|Employment Center 2011 Statistics Reveal Employment Trends in the Field|
The Annual Meeting Employment Center is designed to ease the communication process between candidates for academic positions and employers seeking to fill available positions. The Employment Center features an Annual Meetings edition of Employment Listings, candidate credentials for review, a message center, and an interview facility.
The 2011 Annual Meetings Employment Center saw a total of 705 candidates and 93 open positions. We experienced a 70 percent increase in open positions registered for the Employment Center from 2010 while the number of candidates registered increased by 40 percent. This was due to the fact that in 2011 we began meeting concurrently with the Society of Biblical Literature and hosted a joint Employment Center with them.
The ratio of registered positions to registered candidates was 1:7.6. Though there was a significant increase in positions available this year in comparison to last year, this ratio indicates that, as in previous years, the number of candidates continues to exceed the number of positions available.
Each year, the AAR gathers data about job positions and candidates registered for the Center. Each position and candidate is required to have a primary classification from a provided list. Employers may also have additional classifications (candidates are limited to only one; this is a departure from previous years in which they were able to elect two additional classifications). The “primary” columns indicate the number of times each classification was chosen as a primary choice (click here to see full chart).
When drawing conclusions from this data, it is important to think of the motivations that guide employers’ and candidates’ choices. Employers tend to choose more broad classifications that correspond to the classes needing to be taught. They are likely willing to consider candidates from an array of specializations as long as each person can teach general courses. In contrast, a candidate’s primary choice is usually his or her area of research, though they can teach more broadly. Take Christian Studies as an example — one need not specialize in this area to teach a course. The fact that the classification had a 1:2.5 primary ratio in 2011 does not automatically mean that candidates who chose the classification each had a 25 percent chance of getting a job.
Another example is Comparative Religions. From looking at the number of times this classification was chosen as primary in 2010, it might seem that each candidate in that field had about a 100 percent chance of getting a job. However, many candidates who chose Buddhism, Hinduism, or World Religions as their specialty have the ability to teach Comparative Religions. So employers needing a Comparative Religions professor are not limited to only those candidates who consider it to be their specialty.
This is where the “all” columns come into play. These columns indicate the total number of times a classification was chosen as either primary or “additional.” These columns often give better indications of the ratio of positions to candidates within a particular subfield. Take the example from above. Many of the candidates who chose Hinduism or World Religions likely chose Comparative Religions as an additional choice. Therefore, the position-to-position ratio of 1:3.1 is a better indicator of how many candidates might have sought a particular position.
Still, because of the different motivations that guide choices and because many of the classifications are interrelated, the candidate-to-job ratios shown cannot give a clear indication of a candidate’s chances of getting a job. Rather, they serve mainly to identify trends in position openings and candidate specializations.
The AAR has been compiling registration data since 1990. This data is available on the AAR website.