I have recently been offered an industry position in the US (we live on another continent). My wife is a an academic, with a position roughly equivalent to tenure-track asst professor in the US system. If we move to the US, she would likely take 1-2 years off (she's too busy right now to go on the job market this round). She has a decent, but not amazing publication record: Google counts 16 publications, 310 citations and an H-index of 9 - this is in applied mathematics. The publications she has are of fairly high quality, but because of various pressures related to childcare and starting her academic position, she hasn't published much in the last 2-3 years. Her PhD was at a high quality institution (think, Harvard-like but non-US) with a highly regarded supervisor, she did a postdoc at Harvard. She also has very good student evaluations.

So my question is - what would the impact of a 2 year gap be on an application to an academic institution, and how should it be addressed? In answering, I'm most interested in the opinion of people who have been on hiring committees, and I'd like to know whether you're coming from a research institution or a liberal arts college (or something else altogether).

  • 5
    I would be more worried about trying to find a job when the search is limited to within commuting distance of a spouse.
    – StrongBad
    Aug 31, 2016 at 0:41
  • @StrongBad We're definitely thinking about that (we've faced that problem before - part of why we're now not in the US).
    – user61164
    Aug 31, 2016 at 4:07

1 Answer 1


If I saw an application from someone with this history and the cover letter explained why the applicant had taken time off work, I would treat the application as though those two years simply didn't exist. I think that most search committees would also be willing to give a candidate (especially a female candidate dealing with family issues) that kind of treatment.

As @StrongBad noted in a comment, there's a much bigger issue in that it could be extremely difficult for your spouse to find a tenure track research oriented faculty position in the city where you will be working. The job market is so competitive that even the most qualified applicants have to apply at lots of schools across the country in order to find a tenure track position.

For what its worth I've served on many search committees in applied mathematics over the years. My institution is a lesser ranked research university.

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