Older and On The Market

Searching for employment tends to make people anxious about the ways in which they are different from the “typical” candidate. One such factor is age, especially if you are older than average on the market. I heard from two readers who had such concerns:

  • “A growing number of us earn Ph.D.s post-40, post-50. I’m 58. I’ve been told pointblank not to even think of applying for conventional teaching positions.”
  • “I will be 60 when I complete my doctoral program. I really would appreciate insights on managing my job search.”

I’m of two minds about these concerns. On the one hand, I want to tell you not to overreact to an adviser who rules out entire sectors of employment because of your age, race, gender, or any other personal characteristic. The faculty member giving such advice may be well-intentioned, trying to save you time and heartache. The problem is that such blanket statements can be flat-out incorrect. For example, in a previous column on interdisciplinary Ph.D.s — another characteristic that makes a candidate different from the norm on the tenure-track market — I spoke with one such Ph.D. who was told specifically not to bother applying to traditional disciplinary departments, but then did so anyway and was hired into one. <Read more.>

Via John Cawley, Chronicle of Higher Ed Vitae.