The ritualized and routinized job market for English Ph.D.s begins with the posting of the Job Information List. Open faculty positions in modern languages for the next academic year are submitted in the early fall to the Modern Language Association (MLA), and the Association of Departments of English then posts the relevant listings on a password-protected list made available to those currently affiliated with an English Department.
In the past, I’ve drawn up a list of seventy to ninety jobs for which I’m qualified to apply. I then spend a fair amount of time organizing those job postings to highlight deadlines and the documentation required for application. It’s a fairly compressed timeframe to process applications to these posts, with most of the major research universities asking for documentation to come in by mid-October and second-tier institutions and many of the more prestigious liberal arts colleges having deadlines in November. Less competitive institutions may still have application materials coming in right up to the dates for the MLA conference that happens just after Christmas each year and where many of the interviews are done, with some continuing to interview through January and February. This year the first round of results from my search yields less than thirty job postings. There will be a smattering of positions advertised later, so I can expect to add maybe as much as a dozen to that total, but it’s still a grim sign for the profession and for my efforts to locate a better position within that profession.