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Reflections on our job market series

Berk Ozler's picture

As we prepare to sign off over the holidays, we thought we’d reflect on our job market series over the past two weeks (and note that we have one more guest blogger tomorrow). We asked our guest bloggers, for most of whom this was their first blog post, to reflect on whether this has been a useful experience. Their impressions complement our paper on the role of blogs.

First, several of the job candidates noted that it helped them in thinking more about how to talk about their research to a general audience – some noting they would use this in revising the introduction of their papers, as well as in their job interviews and talks. In particular, our push to link the posts more clearly to broader policy discussions was something a couple of guest bloggers noted.

Second, they said it helped in thinking about how to boil down a paper to its essence – the famous job market elevator speech, based on the idea you should be able to explain your work to someone while taking the elevator at one of the AEA conference hotels ; and to see where they need to take a little care to avoid confusion of readers.

Third, it helped in disseminating the ideas. The average post got about 1,000 reads according to our site statistics, which don’t capture reads among the more than 1,600 email subscribers and RSS readers. It also resulted in a couple of other blogs picking up the papers, and twitter links. We heard of one case of the post being used as an exam question for a graduate economics class. In another case, other graduate students told our blogger that this was a great way to market their research. Together this added attention led to increased page views on their personal web pages, as shown in this traffic graph from one of the candidates (with the spike on the day we posted).

The picture was more mixed with respect to receiving substantive comments on the posts. A couple of guest bloggers said they had received useful comments that would both improve the way they present their results and improve the paper in the future with additional analysis – both through personal correspondence and also on the blog itself. Others didn’t receive much in the way of comments at all.

In terms of the bottom line of whether this helped people get job interviews – we don’t have a control group to know for sure, and based on feedback from the candidates, it seems that one or two extra interviews may have been helped by someone seeing the post. We’ll ask our guest bloggers again after the interviews and fly-outs in January and February whether they received any explicit mention of their posts from their prospective employers.

All of those who responded said that this was something their advisors were supportive of, but of course we only have the selected sample of people who wanted to post – we’d love to hear from those of you on the job market who didn’t submit their papers as potential posts to understand what you see as the potential drawbacks or reasons for not wanting to post (of course those people who don’t read our blog might not have known about this opportunity – shame on them!).

Good luck to all those on the job market, and to all our readers, we hope your holidays exceed your counterfactuals…