Society for Classical Studies Placement Service Data and Analysis (2021-2022)
This report details the past academic year in the SCS Placement Service. We have exported data directly from the Placement Service portion of our website (classicalstudies.org), and most of it is self-reported by the candidates and hiring institutions that filled out their profiles and placed job ads. The data are incomplete in places and some portions use outdated categorizations that are in need of revision. However, the data remain a helpful picture of hiring in Classics in the US and Canada for this year. Since there was no midterm placement report this year owing to staff transitions, this report also includes information from the spring (midterm) placement candidate survey and a summer survey issued to candidates on hiring timelines.
You can use for personal analysis the data in the Excel documents that accompany this report. The data were downloaded from the SCS website on Friday, July 1, 2022. Confidential information has been removed, and some data analysis that requires the use of confidential information has been presented in this report, but the raw data are not supplied to the report’s audience.
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There were 144 job advertisements on the Placement Service in 2021-2022 prior to July 1, 2022. These were placed by 106 institutions, departments, organizations, and programs. The figure of 144 total job advertisements compares to prior years as follows: 91 in 2020-2021, 135 in 2019-2020, 149 in 2018-2019, 145 in 2017-2018, and 146 in 2016-2017. The number of advertisements placed on the Placement Service does not equate to the number of jobs available. Occasionally a single job ad will list multiple job openings. Most, but not all, jobs listed are placed by US or Canadian institutions. 2020-2021 was marked by the effects of COVID-related hiring freezes. In fact the number of openings during 2020-2021 was as low as in the mid-1980s, as shown in this table. Hiring in 2019-2020 was also somewhat affected by the pandemic. The total number of advertisements has bounced back in 2021-22 to 96.6% of the 2018-19 total. However, the news is not all good, as the majority of ads this year were for contingent faculty jobs of which a significant number were short-term positions of twelve months of less.
For several years, we have noted the terms for job “Rank” (e.g. “Assistant Professor,” “Associate Professor,” etc.) no longer track consistently with the classification of that job as being tenure-track or contingent. We have therefore decided to present the data for "Type" in the paragraph below rather than the data for "Rank."
Overall, 67% of jobs placed on the Service this year were considered contingent, meaning they are classified by the hiring institution as non-tenure track, adjunct, or part-time positions. This compares to 71% in 2020-21, 54% in 2019-2020, 62% in 2018-2019, 57% in 2017-2018 and 62% in academic year 2016-2017. 5% of jobs were classified as Open and these were editorial and administrative positions and some fellowships. 28% of job ads in 2021-2022 were for tenured or tenure-track positions, an increase of just 6% over the 2020-21 percentage of 22% of total job ads. However, in absolute terms, there were twice as many tenured and tenure-track job ads in 2021-22 as there were in 2020-2021. 39% of the total job ads placed were classified by hiring institutions as non-tenure track up to and including 12 months. Indeed, this classification is now the most frequent type of job ad. Short-term positions are becoming the norm and this has serious implications for the career trajectories, personal lives, and mental health of early-career scholars. As in previous years, there is no classification for non-tenure track positions that could turn into tenure-track positions, though some advertisements stated this possibility explicitly in the body of the ad.
The following chart and table plot the number and percentage of tenured and tenure-track position ads relative to total Placement Service job ad postings over time since 2003-04. Given the trajectory of the academic job market, it is questionable whether the percentage of tenured and tenure-track positions will exceed 30% of total ads in the foreseeable future. If the long-term effect of the 2008 Great Recession was to decrease the percentage of tenured and tenure-track positions to below 50% of total job ads annually, the long-term effect of the pandemic may be to push that percentage below 30%.
It is true that the early 2000s may have represented an unusual boom in classics and archaeology hiring, and that in 1990s there was great concern about the lack of tenure-track positions available. In the APA newsletter from February 1998 (21.1), the Vice President for Professional Matters, Erich S Gruen, announced that a special forum would be held at the upcoming annual meeting on the worrying growth of adjunct, part-time, and limited term teachings jobs. However, as Simeon Ehrlich has shown in his detailed analysis of the job market, “The average total number of job posts post-2008 is comparable to levels in the 1990s; however, the proportion of limited-term positions increases significantly.” (Ehrlich, "The Health of the Classics Job Market During the Pandemic: a Long-Term Perspective", Mouseion, Series III, vol. 17: 561-62, p. 571)
In terms of specialties sought by hiring institutions in 2021-22, the generalist category is the most popular this year and accounted for 1/3 of all job ads. The generalist category has been popular since the 1990s. However, several respondents to the midterm placement candidate survey noted that the term "generalist" is vague, and can be exclusionary when it is used to refer to jobs that require teaching Greek and Latin literature and language, rather than a more expansive generalist scope encompassing history and material culture. It should be noted that institutions are increasingly creating their own descriptions of specialty areas and combinations of areas. Race and ethnicity are appearing with increasing frequency both in the structured data fields for specialty and in the body of job ads.
As always, caution must be applied to the following numbers. Changes in the job market and Placement Service have altered the meaning and significance of data collected on job candidates. When most institutions ran interviews at the annual meeting, the number of placement candidates was roughly equal to the number of active job seekers in a given year. That is no longer the case. Further, as placement ads are now public, there is no necessity for job seekers to sign up as placement candidates, though doing so provides the important benefits of email notifications of job ads, and the ability to upload a CV to the SCS website that can be viewed by hiring institutions. It is also worth noting that not everyone filling out a candidate profile will have been on the job market this year. All demographic data collection is opt-in for candidates. The SCS is firmly committed to the protection of all its members' data, and as an organization with international membership has taken steps since 2018 to become GDPR compliant. This has made it impossible for us to make mandatory the collection of demographic, personal, and career-related information from placement candidates. Demographic information was collected in two ways this year, via confidential candidate profiles on the SCS website, and via the midterm placement survey. We strongly encourage all candidates to provide demographic information but realize that we need to update several categorizations within the candidate profiles, replacing sex with more inclusive categories of gender identity and revising categories for race and ethnicity.
As of July 1, 2022, 170 job candidates had filled out in whole or part candidate profiles, although not all provided detailed demographic information, and 334 people were subscribed to the placement listserv. This compares to over 200 individuals filling out candidate profiles last academic year. Of candidates who filled out demographic information, 49% were female and 6% were BIPOC. 53% of candidates indicated that they were married or in a long-term relationship. The vast majority of candidates had at least one article published or accepted for publication but only 23% had a book published or accepted for publication. 35% of respondents indicated that they were graduate students, while 48% indicated that they were contingent faculty. Compared to 2020-21, these percentages have stayed relatively stable, although the percentage of graduate students using the Placement Service rose slightly from 28% to 35% of candidates from 2020-21 to 2021-2022.
70 people filled out the midterm placement survey, although only 40 supplied detailed answers. Demographic information submitted was overall very similar to that provided within the candidate profiles.
Of note regarding the financial situation of job candidates is that 44% of respondents reported that their workplace had provided COVID-related financial assistance from institutional or third-party funds. 46% reported receiving no financial assistance and a further 10% reported that financial support / benefits had been cut in whole or part.
Candidate Experiences on the Job Market
As recommended by the Committee on Career Planning and Development, the SCS office issued a second placement survey in June 2022 specifically on hiring timelines and the hiring calendar. The decoupling of hiring from a regular schedule that was once partially determined by the timing of interviews at the annual meeting has also been a long-running concern of the Committee on Diversity on the Profession. The survey received 50 responses. However, despite the low response rate, the results are presented here as the comments in particular are consistent with discussions of candidate experiences on social media, and point to trends that should be further investigated and to factors that search committees should take into account when running searches.
39 (78%) of respondents applied for jobs with application dates prior to November 1. While 72% of respondents reported that they had sufficient time to prepare application materials, 43% reported that they had one week or less to prepare for a first-round interview or single-stage interview process. 30% of respondents reported having under a week to prepare for a campus visit / second-round interview. It should be noted that these percentages reflect very low respondent numbers. However, the short notice of interviews provided by hiring committees was clearly an issue that created great stress for some job candidates given the level of preparation required for academic job interviews, as was reflected in the comments.
While only two respondents had been asked to commit to accepting a job offer for Fall 2022 prior to February 1, 2022, many candidates responding were given less than two weeks to accept or reject an offer (29% less than a week, and 43% 1-2 weeks).
Many comments on the survey noted the hectic and chaotic job search calendar. With very early and very late deadlines for Fall jobs, candidates can feel like the job search process is never done during the academic year. Candidates noted that time windows are too short at many stages of the process at many institutions. Candidates also noted a lack of clarity from many institutions about deadlines, procedures, process, and lack of notification about whether the search was over or not. These problems are not new. For years, job candidates have turned to networks such as academic jobs wiki sites for updates on searches. However, as hiring ramps up after the worst of the pandemic, communication from institutions to candidates has not improved and the year-round hiring cycle is proving debilitating.
The Placement Service received correspondence from three job candidates about ethical issues that had arisen during searches. The issues raised concerned racial equity and discrimination, treatment of contingent faculty, and lack of transparency and communication during search processes. The Chair of the Committee on Career and Planning and Development or the VP for Professional Matters contacted institutions about these issues and tried to resolve them. One issue was ultimately handled by an institution's EEO office.
The Placement Service
The Placement Service has changed radically in the last twenty years. It is unlikely that the service will ever again host onsite interviews at the annual meeting. Essentially the service is now a job advertising conduit, and also aims to uphold ethical standards and norms in academic hiring and to provide other career development services. Although the majority of respondents to the midterm placement survey indicated satisfaction with the service, there is plenty of room for improvement, as shown by the midterm survey, summer survey, and the experience of SCS staff this year.
The chaos of academic hiring, noted by respondents to our summer survey, has also been felt by SCS staff. A significant number of job ads are now submitted, either by hiring institutions or third-party services, that do not conform to the placement guidelines. Many institutions submit ads at the last minute that do not align with guidelines on application deadlines that state a 15 day window between job posting and the beginning of application review (for rolling deadlines), and a 30 day window between posting and the deadline for hard deadlines. During the pandemic, owing to the lack of jobs and the difficulty that departments face in getting searches approved, SCS staff have been posting jobs with application windows shorter than those stated in our guidelines. Staff have been reaching out to institutions to ask them to extend deadlines but this has not been successful in all cases. Once an ad has been approved by a Dean’s office or central HR office, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to change deadlines; and we do not want the Placement Service listing to be inconsistent with the institution’s own official posting. We need to rethink our guidelines so that they are reasonable both for candidates and for hiring institutions. Many ads also come to us with internal discrepancies or omissions. We try to address these with hiring institutions, but inevitably some issues fall through the cracks. We do have the ability to edit job ads after publication and notify candidates that major changes have been made. This is a helpful feature of the service's web and email presence.
We also need to consider how to address excessively early or late job searches. One option would be to flag such searches in accordance with parameters that could be added to our guidelines. We should further encourage or require institutions to be transparent in job ads about the expected timeline of a search; and provide support so that hiring institutions and search committee members treat candidates equitably and with compassion at all stages of the hiring process. Guidance is also needed for institutions outside the United States and Canada on EEO statements that both represent the relevant laws and norms and are understandable to an audience of job candidates who are, for the most past, based in the US and Canada. Salary transparency in job ads and some way to address the bloat in application materials now required for many jobs have also been raised recently both on the midterm survey and on social media as issues that the Placement Service could address. A final and important point is to reassess whether the Placement Service should be listing jobs from institutions that do not conform in all respects to the Society’s Statement on Professional Ethics. This work will surely require updates to our placement guidelines and new resources that will need to be discussed and developed by staff, the Committee on Career Planning and Development, in collaboration with other groups including the Committee on Diversity in the Profession and the SCS Board.
A frequent comment on the midterm survey was that the Placement Service should be advertising a wider number of jobs both in and outside higher education. We will work on how to achieve that in our listings. In addition, in recent years, the Placement Service has attempted to provide resources to job candidates who are looking for employment outside research and teaching in higher education. In the midterm placement survey, 85% of respondents said that non-academic jobs were a useful addition to the Placement Service. However, only 28% of respondents attended Career Development Seminars. This response tracks will low attendance overall at the seminars, which have not been as successful as hoped and we will need to regroup to determine what events and resources will be most helpful throughout the year. We will continue the Career Networking Event at the Annual Meeting, which has been a successful addition to the conference since 2018, and we encourage job seekers to consult Careers for Classicists: Graduate Student Edition and to join the LinkedIn group, Career Networking for Ancient and Classical Studies. For those focusing their attention on the academic job market, we recommend Joy Connolly’s Going on the Market (hosted by SCS and updated in November, 2021) and the resources recently published by the WCC on the job market, including helpful advice on CVs, cover letters, and statements on research, teaching, and diversity.
The Placement Service was run from July 1, 2021 – January 8, 2022 by Erik Shell. Helen Cullyer acted as interim placement coordinator from January 9 – April 30, with new hire Colleen E. Buske taking over the role as of May 1.
We will be supplementing this report later in the summer or early Fall with a list of individuals hired during years 2020-21 and 2021-22. The Placement Service is currently open and accepting job ads with Fall 2022 deadlines. Later in August the Placement Service will shut down for a short period to undergo its annual maintenance. When the service reopens, job ads placed after July 1, 2022 will be reposted under Placement Year 2022-23 to ensure comprehensive data collection and for the benefit of candidates.
August 11, 2022
Helen Cullyer and Colleen E. Buske