"My question is whether I will be able to find an academic job after leaving a Tenure-Track position, with about 1 year gap"

I am currently in a situation to leave my assistant prof position (TT) in the area of business and management due to personal reasons- relocating with my partner overseas. I like my job, and I intend to reapply for academic positions in about a years time, and meanwhile will try to publish with my former colleagues and find casual teaching in local universities.

I have heard of frightening stories that once you leave academia you can never come back, unless you are a research superstar.

Just for further info, I have been working in a relatively reputable East Asian university, and my PhD was completed in the Australasia region. However I am relocating to US/Canada.

I have 5 years experience working in my current role, with ok publications - I am not a research superstar but I am regularly publishing in relatively good journals (but not top, approx 1-2 articles per year). I have extensive teaching experience and can cover more than usual topics in my area.

I don't think getting references would be a problem, but am still worried that i will not be able to make it back into academia due to the unusual career gap. Taking an unpaid leave is not an option as I do not intend to stay/come back to my current institution. Also I have been making last minute job applications to US/Canadian universities but haven't heard back from them yet (the relocation decision was made recently, so I wasn't able to target the full recruitment season).

I have seen similar posts but in the area of science - any comments on business/management area or something that may be applicable to social sciences would be greatly appreciated!

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    Could you take a leave of absence (or an early sabbatical) - not everyone returns from those? Can you find a university to be a visiting professor at for the duration?
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 11, 2022 at 13:26
  • Thank you for your suggestion. I could definitely ask, but it is highly unlikely that my institution will allow a leave at my level (unless its a severe medical issue). Also, our relocation decision was quite sudden and we plan to leave in Feb. Would universities accept visiting professor applications at such a short notice? (Im curious and just asking, please correct me if im wrong- the few that i did see seemed to work on a "pool" basis where they contact you if they have a spot, which is assumed to take some time) Oct 11, 2022 at 14:11
  • Especially in the humanities but also in the sciences, there are far more highly qualified people than permanent positions. This makes it unlikely for anyone to find a job regardless of what is on their CV (superstars excepted). As I understand it, business is one of the few academic areas where there is actually a reasonable balance between the numbers of qualified applicants and available permanent positions, so what you hear in other fields may not apply. Oct 11, 2022 at 15:40
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    I am worried you might not yet understand that the US and Canada are geographically large countries. Also, for historical reasons, many major universities are in remote places where there is little employment other than the university. My university is 130km from the nearest small city and 400km away from the nearest major city. I wonder if availability of employment for your partner is going to constrain you to a very small number of potential jobs. Oct 11, 2022 at 15:46
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    A visa should not be an issue in the US. Universities are almost always able to sponsor H1B visas for international hires, and it's rare for this to be a factor in hiring decisions. Note universities are not subject to the annual quota on H1B visas. I believe it is similar in Canada. Oct 11, 2022 at 17:36

2 Answers 2


I don't know that you can "never come back", but just purely by the numbers the odds are likely not in your favor. Most people find getting a teaching position a challenge even in the best of cases, and one's research CV tends to decay the longer one works outside of academia. That is to say, I believe it's not that search committees are somehow biased against people who worked in the real world, but regular jobs just don't give you much opportunity to build your CV in aspects that are normally looked at by academic search committees (papers, acquired grants, taught courses).

When I see people move back from business to academia, they usually fall into one or multiple of the following groups:

  • People who acquired marketable skills in industry, which sufficiently compensate for a slightly lower paper count. In my field these are mostly people working in industrial research labs or on well-known products.
  • People who re-enter academia in lesser-known or more practice-focused universities. Clearly, at a University of Applied Sciences some time in industry would be beneficial rather than detrimental to your application, but these positions tend to be teaching-focused (nothing wrong with that, but it may be something to be aware of).
  • People who re-enter academia in very specialised roles, sometimes roles specifically created for them. This tends to be the case mostly for (very) high-profile practitioners looking to transition, and will likely not apply to you as a junior with only a year or two in industry.
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    Thabk you for your comment. Just to note, i do not intend to work in industry during my 1 year (planned) gap, but hope to look for casual/sessional instructor jobs at universities while writing papers full time. I am fortunate enough to have a good data set to write papers on, and my partners has agreed to financially support during the process. However i am particularly worried that i will not be gaining the industry skillset you mentioned during my gap, and neither hold a formal academic position during the period. Oct 11, 2022 at 13:23

There is risk, of course. Nothing is assured. I suggest that you prepare for the worst and work toward the best.

Academic positions are difficult to obtain at the moment. That doesn't seem likely to change soon. So, make sure you have a plan that is acceptable if you can't return.

Your plan to stay connected during your absence is a good one. Keep up with your circle of collaborators.

You can also judge to some extent how hard it will be for you to return if you examine how hard or easy it was to obtain your current TT position. If you were highly desirable and had multiple offers, is certainly much better than if you had to do several postdocs and then compromise at the end.

Good luck.

  • Thank you for your comment. I agree that the jobs market is tough these days. I did get a few job offers before graduation, but these were from smaller institutions outside us/canada so wasnt sure how much i could hope to return based on these factors. Oct 11, 2022 at 13:28

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