Saturday, January 24, 2015

Contest Entry : Rejection Letters, 6

Sad but apparently true, though I hope it wasn't recently true and I hope the administrators concerned all ended up spending their days dealing with major, expensive all-encompassing software upgrades that were supposed to link many vital academic/administrative systems but instead caused mass chaos that never ended.

Submitted by a reader:

Dear Jane:

Thank you very much for interviewing for the open position, Director of Herding Cats.  We were impressed with your qualifications and we all enjoyed your visit several months ago.  I do apologize for the long delay in getting back to you, but I believe Professor Tuna, head of the search committee, informed you that we made an offer to another candidate.  We appreciate your continued interest in the position.

At this stage, after negotiating a counter offer with her home institution, the candidate has decided to leave the field and accept a highly lucrative position in industry.  The search committee has recommended that, as the second-ranked candidate on the short list, you be offered the position next. 
 
Unfortunately, the Department Head decided to reopen the interview process by inviting someone ranked below the short list, an acquaintance of his.  That candidate has been offered and has accepted the position.

Thank you again for your interest.

Regards,

Wira Mess
HR Representative

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Contest Entry: Rejection Letters, 5

A late but great entry!



Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in our advertised position. I am very sorry to announce that after careful consideration of your 36 page application by a panel of international experts, we are unable to offer you an interview.

If this makes you feel any better, please consider that despite flying 12 international experts in from around the world, spending an entire week sorting through all the applications in a very expensive conference centre, the result of this is nearly equivalent to a random process.

I say this constructively, i.e. to encourage you to apply again to any future positions we may advertise, since the quality of applications is ultimately uncorrelated with selection to the short list.

Sincerely,
An. Eminent Professor (who also happens to be your former advisor).

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Friday, January 02, 2015

Contest Entry: Rejection Letters, 3

Would you want to get a letter like this?

(Too?) Much Information Letter

Dear [applicant name],

We received 154 applications for our advertised position. Of these we selected 32 for a "long list" of applicants and we requested letters of reference for those. You were in this group of 32.

Of those 32, we narrowed the list further to 12 individuals. One or more members of our search committee met with most of these 12 at the Big Conference or at least attended their conference presentation. You were in this group of 12.

Of those 12, we selected 5 to interview. You were not in this group of 5. The selection of the 5 individuals was not based on merit. How could it be? All 12 on the next-to-final short list are highly qualified. In fact the 32 on the long list are highly qualified and probably another dozen or more beyond that.

It might not make you feel better to know that the selection process is nearly random in the end. The struggle is to make that semi-random selection fair (that is, not favoring those we happen to know and like or whose advisors are our friends, trying not to let unconscious bias creep into the process, and so on).

So how did we decide? Is it about that nebulous concept of "fit"? Sort of, but fit can go both ways. The faculty could decide that the best "fit" would be someone who "builds on our strengths" in a certain subfield or "fit" could be defined as needing a person who works on something new and different that would nevertheless somehow "fit" with our vision of exciting future directions. In this search, we interviewed some of each type.

Was there anything in your letters of reference that caused you to be non-selected for an interview? No, there really wasn't anything. All the top candidates had excellent letters of reference.

Was it number of publications? No, it was not. Was it the impact factor of the journals? No. Citation index? Definitely not, you are all too early in your careers for that to be any useful indicator of anything.

In the end, the interview list was selected by the search committee, with input from other faculty and other interested parties, after reading and discussing the application materials, including publications (Perhaps it is useful to mention that the research statement can be quite useful as an indicator of what each applicant's ideas are for future research and teaching.). It is a time-consuming process so even if there is some randomness, it is a thoughtful randomness, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, we interviewed the interviewees and a few stood out and we made an offer to one of them and that person accepted, so our search process has now been completed and we wanted to let you know that.

Sincerely,

The Search Committee Chair, on behalf of the Search Committee

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Contest Entries: Rejection Letters, 2

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Here are two more beautiful examples of the genre, each crazy-making in their own special way. 

(By the way, I am not sure if those submitting these want their names attached to their entries; without specific information I am erring on leaving names off but am happy to include names if so instructed -- and I can add names to entries already posted.)


Dear Candidate,



Thank you so, so much for your application to our Department. We were overwhelmed with the enthusiasm with which the scientific community rallied around our job posting, and to date with have received 1,217 applications (and counting!!!) from kindhearted individuals across the country. I'm sure you will agree that this is a very special achievement, which we could never have managed without your contribution. 



As I am sure you will appreciate, it was very difficult for us - after we had read through the documents of all the incredibly talented hotshot Ivy League academics (each with their own truly inspiring pedigrees and publication record) - to narrow the selection down to just one eventual winner. We wanted to award all of you a tenure-track position in our department! But in the end we had to make just one choice, and I am sorry to say that your application didn't quite make the cut. 



But you were really close, though! 



Thank you once again for applying to our Department - it was really sweet of you to consider us. Keep your eyes peeled for details about our next academic opening! 



Warm regards and gratitude,

Department Search Committee 



 *************



Dear Applicant,



Thank you very much for your application for a position in our department.  Due to the large number of applications we receive, if you are not on the short list for the position then this will be the last you'll hear from us.  On the other hand, we request that you take the time to let us know if you accept a position elsewhere.



Sincerely,

Search Committee Secretary

Top-10 Science Department

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Contest Entries: Rejection Letters, 1

Here are two entries in the Rejection Letter writing contest, including one (the first one) that is based on a real letter that may (or may not?) be needlessly a bit cruel.

We wish you well

On behalf of Dr. Marty Bloom, Chair, Dept. of Many Words for Science and the MWFS Search Committee at Badly Located State School  we greatly appreciate your applying for a faculty position in our department.   We regret that your name was not on the short list.  We wish you well in your search for a position appropriate to your accomplishments and interests.

Sincerely,

Mary Sue LogginsSearch Committee Secretary

 *********************

Auto-Rejected

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for applying for Job [ID code 87340000001]. 

Your application passed audit.

You have not been selected for this job.

(end text)

 


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Write This 2014

For the past couple of weeks I have been feeling occasionally distressed that I had not yet announced the theme of the annual Academic Writing Contest, and then I noticed the date on last year's announcement -- December 22. So now I feel better, though only if I don't think too much about what that means about the past two years.

A summary of the themes of the last six (6) contests:

And now, to celebrate the end of 2014 and get everyone in a festive mood for 2015, the theme for this year's writing contest is: The Rejection Letter.

The rules are simple:

- Write a brief rejection letter that exemplifies whatever interests you most about this type of communication -- how awful they can be, how insincere, how kind, how bizarre, how cryptic, or whatever.

- Entries can be made up or can be (anonymized) real ones that are somehow noteworthy for their awfulness, awesomeness, bizarreness etc.

- Email entries to femalescienceprofessor@gmail.com, and as usual I will arbitrarily post some or all of them whilst the FSP family makes its annual expedition to somewhere interesting.