This is yet another phrase that readers have Googled to find this blog, and, truthfully, you could write volumes about the insanity of the academic job market.
And maybe I will give it a good long rant at a later date, but after reading this post today, in which Sisyphus wonders whether a search committee will care if a candidate has ndependently designed yet one more course, after years of adjuncting, I am reminded about one particular type of insanity that the academic job market reproduces year in and year out:
That is, the insanity of believing that you have any degree of control whatsoever over whether a search committee decides you are a good "fit."
Because, beyond reasonable measures like writing a non-stupid cover letter, having the requisite publications, conference presentations, recommendations, and modest teaching experience, there really isn't squat doodle you can do.
Why? Because everyone else has those things, too.
Above and beyond, you cannot anticipate what may or may not stand out to one committee or another. One committee might give you props for that fancy fellowship you got one year, but, alas, that committee isn't searching for a candidate in your field. Another committee might see a particular publication or certain class you taught as beneficial, but, odds are, someone else has similar credentials.
So, people, please stop stressing out and rearranging your lives trying to anticipate what some clueless group of 4-6 people (who don't know you and don't care about you) is going to think of one thing or another on your application. You can beat yourself up believing it might make a difference, but, from what I've observed these past few years, it won't make any.
What matters is this mythical beast called Fit, and, if you are going to cast your fate with the Job Market Gods, you might as well just leave it up to them. There is no point wasting your time and energy trying to determine if planning and prepping that new course in the spring (or whatever it is you think you need to do as job season launches into full swing) will make a difference -- much less actually doing the planning and prepping -- because ONE CLASS after all these years of adjuncting is not going to mean much of anything.
You know what Einstein said about insanity: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
You may or may not get a committee interested in you this year, but, at this point, if you have several years of adjuncting under your belt (or postdocing or VAPing) it won't be because of any one thing you've done.
And what bothers me most about this particular breed of insanity the academic job market spawns? That it hurts people who seem like otherwise good people, people who not only haven't done anything wrong but have done a good job at their jobs, people who are conscientious teachers, thoughtful scholars, cool colleagues. And it is just totally wrong and insane to reduce them to false hopes and desperation -- and that, through this abuse and exploitation, the system reproduces itself year after year after year after year ... as we all play along ....
It's time to break the cycle.