The Unknown Adjunct

February 27, 2009

He drives for the hoop — Rejected!

Filed under: Applications,Job Hunt — unknownadjunct @ 1:50 am
Tags: , , ,

Got my first formal rejection from my job-hunting efforts — an application I sent back in October of last year. No feedback: just “The position has been filled”.

What is the feeling on asking for feedback? Or should I just be glad that I got notified?



  1. Glad to hear about the consulting prospect, but sorry that it’s been sandwiched between the usual job market miseries.

    I don’t think there’s any harm in asking for feedback, although I’m not sure I would bother unless I made it over enough hurdles to wrangle a campus visit. Before that point most candidates tend to exist as names on a very long list of the comparably qualified, and I don’t think members of the hiring committee would be able to offer you much constructive feedback. Some will be bound by confidentiality laws, and those that aren’t probably can offer only a few generalities–that you weren’t a good fit for the job as they envision it, or that the pool of candidates was so wide and so deep that they didn’t catch you when they were skimming the cream.

    After the campus visit stage they tend to offer more of the same, but at least then (given a willingness to comment candidly) they can be more specific. I learned from one kindly committee member, for example, that I lost out on a 50/50 proposition because the hiring folk decided they wanted a Miltonist who could teach the 18th century rather than an 18th-century scholar who could teach Milton. That’s perhaps the most pointed feedback I’ve ever received. As much as I’d like to hear about them, I’ve never gotten feedback regarding credential shortfalls, or gaffes in my cover letter, or a conversational faux pas that cost me a job. Few hiring committees will be so forthcoming or so insensitive.

    It’s also worth knowing that most members of hiring committees will be exhausted with the search (though perhaps not so exhausted/exasperated as you are). They’ve been through a five-month process, they’ve winnowed through 100+ applicants, they’ve juggled a month of scheduling commitments to take part in campus visits, and then they had to wrangle for the candidate they preferred in the all-out scrum of Final Deliberations. They may not have much stomach left for continued engagement with candidates at that point. Even then, assuming the usual academic habits, they’ll probably plunk all job-related communiques in their “To Be Answered Later…Much Later” folders, where requests for feedback will collect virtual dust.

    Although I didn’t feel this way when I was on the market, nowadays I tend to think that the kind of feedback I might eventually receive from such a request would not requite the time and effort I’d take to frame and phrase the request itself.

    Comment by williamhwandless — February 27, 2009 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks for the insightful reply … your view from the other side of the process is helpful. I have sat on both scholarship and promotion boards in my previous life, and like you said, you don’t spend very much time at all on a package that isn’t noteworthy or “on the bubble”.

    Comment by unknownadjunct — February 27, 2009 @ 12:44 pm | Reply

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