This time of year generates a wave of excitement and anxiety as many early-career scientists prepare to face the academic job market. There is usually a flood of advice to help clarify this terrifying process. But for every useful piece of advice, there are a dozen that are idiosyncratic to the person giving the advice or that are unique to their own institution. They might have secured a coveted tenure-track position, but it’s not clear which things (a) helped them get the job or (b) are relevant to the jobs you plan to pursue. 

The job market—both inside and outside of academia—is full of random events. There

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