Number of jobs applied for during my 3 years on the market: more than 50, less than 100!
Percentage that bothered to get back to me at all: estimated 10%
After reading this article in The Chronicle this week: http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2008/02/2008022001c/careers.html I started thinking about the way that institutions deal with our job applications, especially at the lower end of the academic ladder. This pseudonymous article seems to encapsulate all that is wrong with the way that young academics on the American job market are treated. But are things so much better over here?
In my own jobseeking experience I sent out far more applications than I should have…employing a ‘scattergun’ rather than a ‘sniper’ approach. However, even if I was totally unsuitable for a position, under- or over qualified, not an expert in the right area or whatever, surely my application required at least an acknowledgment of its arrival and/or subsequent rejection? Am I being old fashioned or is that just the ‘proper’, courteous way to treat professionals seeking employment at your institution?
Funnily enough, my rejection letters that stand out were from the Oxford and Cambridge colleges. Applying for their hugely competitive fellowships may have been over-optimistic on my part but certainly these colleges sent out a lovely rejection letter! Encouraging, apologetic and beautifully presented, they showed that someone at some point had read my application. These bastions of old-school manners were sadly untypical though; most institutions simply said ‘if you haven’t heard from us in a month, assume you have been rejected’. Great!
Obviously it’s difficult when there are sometimes a hundred people applying for one post, but how long does it really take to run a mail merge and print off a load of rejection letters, or send out a group email. Applicants’ contact details should be logged somewhere anyway, so it can’t take more than, at a guess, an hour, to contact the rejected cohort. And as you can see from the Chronicle article, to a jobseeker who is already on tenterhooks about his or her employability, this little courtesy would mean a great deal.