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Recommended Guidelines on the Academic Job Market Beginning 2022

Recommended Guidelines on the Academic Job Market Beginning 2022

Monica Gerhardt

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AMA recommends moving the job market from Summer to Fall starting in 2022

The AMA Academic Council seeks to understand and support the evolving needs relating to the Marketing PhD Job Market. To do so, we have conducted focus groups, interviews, and surveys, in cooperation with other marketing academic organizations. We received feedback from over 250 academics, from both hiring institutions and candidates. Thank you for participating in these initiatives!

The key findings of this research were that (1) both faculty and doctoral students prefer a coordinated job market with schedule guidelines, and (2) while the traditional approach had a number of positives, the faculty, and doctoral student respondents also perceived many challenges (see FAQs). Thus, we believe the Covid pandemic engendered upheaval provides a unique opportunity to reconsider and redesign the guidelines for job market participants.

From the survey data and the AMA Academic Council deliberations, a clear theme emerged. Hence, we propose the following guidelines to job market participants:

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  1. First-round interviews through videoconferencing in September-October;
  2. Flyouts in October-November;
  3. Job offers in November-December.

The rationale: First, most respondents preferred videoconferencing over in-person interviews for the first-round interviews. Furthermore, in line with the recently updated Code of Ethics, the AMA requests that no interviews take place in hotel rooms as a strict policy; consistent with the theme that came from the survey. Second, moving these interviews later than the pre-pandemic norm gives candidates more time to prepare and employers more time to secure an open position. In particular, we recommend that interviews begin only after Labor Day. Third, videoconferencing provides greater flexibility than condensing interviews to a few days while also enhancing equity and inclusion as traveling to AMA for interviews is a barrier for some candidates. The below FAQ provides more details on these reasons.

The Academic Council recommends the last week of September and the first week of October as the preferred video conferencing interviewing period. It focuses on both the job candidates and recruiting schools to a clear and targeted time period.  This leaves the rest of October and November for flyouts. Offers are expected to be made no earlier than mid-November through December.

The Academic Council also considered the issue of so-called “exploding offers,” in which students must make a decision within a very tight timeline. The conclusion was that a minimum of two weeks is the preferred norm to maximize fairness and reduce sub-optimal choices by job candidates. Therefore, we recommend that institutions avoid the exploding offer approach.

How about Summer AMA? We are planning several opportunities for candidates and employers to interact, using the current PhD Project and Doctoral SIG activities as catalysts. For this coming Summer AMA, in addition to excellent research content, there are several special programs already planned.  These include the PhD Project Marketing Doctoral Student Association Conference, ten expert workshops, the TCR Impact Festival, the Marketing Meets Wallstreet preconference, opportunities for student/employer networking in-person and within the WHOVA app, and more.

Of course, this vision can’t materialize without your help. We invite you to communicate this proposal to your colleagues. By setting the norms for the job market, both candidates and employers can continue to enjoy the structure that respondents told us benefits all job market participants. The AMA has engaged with other marketing academic organizations, and ACR, ISMS, and SMA support our proposals. Please share with us any questions or feedback. With your support, we can make this transition successful.

Thank you very much,

The Academic Council of the American Marketing Association

FAQ

That is a key question we asked ourselves and the respondents. The answer was an overwhelming ‘Yes’ because “The market is too chaotic post-pandemic”

For students, coordination would provide cohesion and reduce the current stress that comes from uncertainty:

  • “Coordination makes a more efficient and equitable market. The job market is already hard enough on applicants.”
  • “It provides clarity on expectations, reducing stress for PhD students.”
  • “It provides Cohesion and timing. Not accepting an offer because you’re unsure about future offers/interviews. Not stressed about timing as it will be less likely that schools will have large deviations in hiring timelines and motivation.”
  • “Because the current system is horrible. Super stressful for candidates, schools force good candidates to reject good offers in hopes of getting a “better” one (which may not come).”

The survey was distributed via ELMAR, ISMS, and ACR and saw 206 respondents, of which 52% faculty. Pre-pandemic, most were interviewed at Summer AMA while videoconferencing interviews were most common during the pandemic.  Reasons for dissatisfaction with traditional recruiting included:

“That the applicants present their job market paper 20+ times in 3 days is highly inefficient.”

“Too many awkward experiences given space, too much intermingling among schools”

“It is quite stressful and somewhat weird to be interviewed in someone’s hotel room.”

Among job market format options, the highest mean score was for “Zoom interviews to set stability in the market”

As to first-round interview timing, October was preferred over August, which was preferred over January.

As to the overall package ‘virtually in October’ was preferred over the traditional approach and over the virtual directory (no coordination). The majority of respondents wanted a joint statement by key academic marketing organizations about the job market.

AMA embarked on a business review and design sprint for the Academic Placement hiring event.  The design sprint featured 12 academics to act as experts on the existing process and provide insight into future innovations.  These individuals ranged from current students, recent graduates, and a variety of academics at differing stages of their careers, all at R1 universities.

Dhruv Grewal conducted four focus groups on behalf of the AMA Academic Council.  These featured 16 individuals, half department chairs and half early-stage academics.

AMA also conducted a listening session in conjunction with the Doctoral SIG for doctoral students and faculty for 60 attendees.

Finally, AMA conducted separate meetings with concerned individuals and other associations, including ISMS and ACR.

The current proposal has been reviewed and discussed in depth by the AMA Support Center, as well as by leadership at the AMA Board, ISMS, ACR, EMAC, and SMA.

Monica Gerhardt is Director of the Academic Communities and Journals at AMA where she delivers community-driven events, supports volunteer leaders and Special Interest Groups, and continues to foster a “sense of home” for fellowship and camaraderie among marketing academics.