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Academic Job Search: the long short list.

September 21, 2016

Even if you’re destined for job market success this season, you’re in for an anxiety-provoking period of silence.  Over the next couple of posts, I’ll give you some stats on how long that silent period was for me.

Official signs of interest: While most places asked for letters right up front, about 15% of places only asked for letters if they were interested.  I got ten such requests, including the two places that asked for letters up front but were missing one.  Those two requests aren’t included in the averages and are indicated in gray in the histogram.

The delay between application and being asked for letters:
Range: 13 to 106 days
Average 32 (+/- 31) days
Median: 21 days


While the first official sign of interest can happen months after the application goes in, most places that didn’t ask for letters up front seem to be eager to get their search going and will contact you within three weeks of their application deadline.

Both requests for a missing letter resulted in further interest, indeed one came after I was asked for an on campus interview.   Only one of the requests for letters from places that didn’t ask up front resulted in further interest.   Those requests probably simply indicate having a competitive application (e.g. making it to the long short list), a step that is not communicated to the applicant if the university requested letters at the time of application.

Next up: when to expect your invitation for a campus visit.

Sample preparation and data collection in Materials and Methods.


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