Every now and then I give informal talks on how the economics job market operates. I tell the listeners that they are like an “unwrapped saltine cracker.” They are wasting assets, to borrow a phrase from options pricing theory. If a day goes by and they did not accomplish something important, they decline in value. For most candidates, holding steady is not a viable strategy. You need either publications or some stellar letters from credible writers, preferably both. (At the very top level, publications at the job market stage are less important because it is expected they will come and the recommendations are trusted more.)
Unwrap a saltine cracker, let it sit for months, and then try to eat it. Will you even try?