1) Don’t Panic, because there’s nothing to be done about the history job market. It probably sucks. It’s always sucked. The only thing you can do is work your ass off–write a good dissertation, do some teaching, maybe get an article published–and cross your fingers. If you’ve got connections or favors, call them in. But try not think about the state of the job market; doing so only wastes time that you might spend getting something else done.
2) Then again, if KFR is worried, what hope is there for me? KFR is fucking brilliant and really nice. If KFR can’t get a job, that either (a) proves that it’s all just a crap shot or (b) bodes ill for the less skilled, like me. Which brings me to…
3) Back-up plans. In this area, I think people who have worked outside the academy have an advantage: we know that regular work isn’t the end of the world. Serve coffee? Okay. Computer support? I guess so. Sales? I’d rather not, but it’s a job. I’ve done shitty work in the past, and I’ll do it again if I have to. So will KFR; that kid hasn’t been locked in the tower all his life. But the Straight-Throughs (k-12 -> undergrad -> grad) seem unable to conceptualize doing regular work. Maybe that’s why I notice younger grad students clutching their pearls more than older grad students. Except for occasional lapses like KFR’s.
And mine, right now.