Job Searches at the AHA Annual Meeting

AHA Job Center, 127th Annual Meeting

Search committees conducted interviews for over 154 positions at the 2013 AHA annual meeting, almost matching last year’s total of 160. The number of searches slipped a bit, which is typical in smaller meeting cities.

For the first time in recent memory, jobs with a European specialization outnumbered those for the United States, 25 to 24 percent. The next highest was Asia, followed by Latin America, and then thematic. These searches, which did not require a specific geographical area, were mostly for public and digital historians. Five percent or less of the searches asked for either African, Middle East, or world history specializations.

Most search committees chose to reserve their own privately reserved suites, in which one member would sleep in the bedroom and then use the parlor for interviewing. Free Job Center tables were only used by 41 searches, while 30 committees rented parlor rooms from the AHA for a limited amount of time. It seems that the committees appreciated the flexibility offered by privately arranged suites, and were willing to pay for it.

In addition, using rooms gave committees the ability to use Skype or in-room Internet connections. While committees primarily conducted in-person interviews, a few reported using Skype when travel difficulties or other concerns arose for candidates or interviewers. The Job Center ballroom had free Wi-Fi this year (a very rare occurrence), so even those doing table interviews could use the Internet or, in one case, stay late to do a quickly arranged Skype session.

The cost difference between face-to-face interviews at the annual meeting and Skype or telephone interviews is already creating tension between many search committees and administrations. We asked candidates for their thoughts about both methods of communication in our annual survey, and early results show that even if the meeting costs more, in-person interviews are still valued by a large majority of candidates.

We’d like to hear from more Job Center participants about their experiences this year; candidates and search committees can still fill out their respective surveys online. We’ll share the final results in a future blog post.

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