Or do you feel a nagging sense of dread? Nervousness that's out of proportion to how you normally feel when facing a new or high-stress situation? Sick to your stomach? Are you having trouble mustering up any enthusiasm for the posted jobs, and feel like you're just going through the motions when you're writing up your cover letters?
When you're contemplating the market, I echo PostAcademic's advice to listen to your gut:
...pay attention to that feeling in your gut. One of the first steps to knowing whether you should leave academia is being able to separate what you want from the desires of others.This is tremendously good advice. As I and the other postacademic bloggers have written in the past, grad school sets you on a distinct track toward a particular type of job - an academic job. It may be that you started out in grad school thinking that you'd consider a wide range of jobs after graduation ... but you're going to just "test" the academic job market because that's what graduating Ph.D.'s do. Or it may be that you came into grad school thinking you'd be a professor (or with no particular career goals in mind), and now that you're graduating, you're going on the academic market because that's what graduating Ph.D.'s do. You may have never considered any other options or stopped along the line to consider whether you still want to be a professor. It's just what people in your line of work do, so you're going along with it.
Now of course, there are people who go on the market because they're truly determined to be a professor and are tremendously excited to start applying. If that describes you, then I wish you well. But if you're looking at the job ads and you aren't excited? If you're abnormally nervous or depressed or feel sick over the whole thing? Give yourself some time to think about what that means before you start going full-bore into the academic job hunt. Chances are, you haven't had much of an opportunity to think critically about academia or about what other jobs you might be able to do. But now that it's up to you to decide where to apply? Now is your chance to put some thought into what you want, not what other people tell you you should do.
Okay, it's time for a personal story. I've never been someone who gets overly anxious or nervous. I like trying new things and meeting new people, and I'm generally confident in my abilities and eager to pursue new opportunities. I've never been someone who gets sick with nerves before an interview or who has trouble getting enthusiastic about new things or selling myself to others.
Until I went on the academic job market last year.
Words cannot even describe how unenthused I was about the jobs I was applying for. Writing cover letters bored me - I had to feign enthusiasm for the jobs, and it was a chore - not something I was excited about. And when I started prepping for interviews, I was physically sick for weeks. It wasn't just that I was nervous about how I'd do. I couldn't even sit down to prep. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, and I flat-out could not make myself sit down to prepare. I didn't want to. I wasn't excited, I wasn't enthusiastic ... I was miserable. I did not want the interview or the job. I could feel it. But I had to go for it ... because I was lucky enough to get a call.
Of course, I didn't get any of the tenure track jobs (boy, did those departments dodge bullets, huh?) And when I got the last call and learned that I wasn't going to be a professor in the fall? I was never sad or upset. I was elated. Overjoyed. Thrilled. It felt like a thousand weights had been lifted off my shoulders. I had an out. I had "failed" ... and could now do what I wanted! It was a wonderful day. And since then, I've had a few nonacademic phone interviews and haven't felt the least bit nervous while prepping or doing them. If you ask me, my gut was trying to send me a serious message.
Man, would I have saved a lot of time and heartache if I'd listened to it from day one ... when I was looking at those job ads with dread.
PostAcademic speaks the truth. Listen to your gut.