Monday, December 13, 2010

New developments in the economics job market

The web page for the job market candidates from Duke reveals a new development in the marketing of candidates in the economics job market: many of the Duke candidates have video clips on the web, apparently from their practice job talks. For example, I took a look at the clip for Jon James (whose name reminded me of former Washington football coach Don James).

It seems to me that these clips can potentially serve several functions:

First, they provide a lot of information about public speaking ability very quickly. If someone cannot manage two clear minutes during their practice job talk, they probably cannot give the sort of lectures that attain good teaching ratings. That is something that letters, papers and the CV just do not reveal. It will be especially useful for students with first languages other than English (or with names that suggest their first language is something other than English) who want to demonstrate that their skills with spoken English are not a concern.

Second, the videos provide information on both demographics, such as race/ethnicity, and on appearance, in an indirect way. This feature is a bit more ambiguous in its normative and positive implications.

Third, the videos provide a way to get a quick summary of the job market paper without having to read a dry abstract.

I'll be curious to see if this catches on as an equilibrium. I expect it will (but say that in full awareness of the awesome track record of economist predictions).

1 comment:

taylorhui said...

Cool, but the practice in an extreme form will screen out some excellent candidates who are fine in interactive communication but not big talkers. Some people grown up in a culture that discouraged big talk, and they would be in a disadvantaged position in such a job market.

I'm probably digressing, since the economics job market never just look at research potential, ability and skill match, so this could be a natural extension of what is currently going on.