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Academic Job Search: Rejection pie.

October 12, 2016

While my application was officially rejected by many fine institutions, it was unofficially rejected by nearly as many.  Forty-five percent of my applications have not been officially rejected more than a year later.  I’ll represent this poor record of conveying information with a poor method for displaying information.  A good old fashioned academic rejection pie chart, made with a bitter blend of two flavors of 100% pure rejection: official and intuited.  Artificially sweetened by expressions of interest.


Maybe some institutions don’t have the tech support to figure out how to send a couple hundred emails.  Maybe HR prohibits communication, or makes it difficult or full of legal pitfalls.  Maybe the search fails and the committee is too busy or exhausted to officially close it.  Maybe there are administrative reasons to technically keep a search open. Interestingly, even a few places that expressed interest never bothered to get back in touch (you’ll notice that thin white sliver of pie).  But although it’s true that I never officially heard back, I did, eventually, get the message.

In some respects, it is pretty amazing that I heard back from more than half of the places I applied.  I suspect that is relic of an earlier era – one where each position didn’t garner hundreds of responses.  My impression is that people in other fields don’t expect to hear from a company that isn’t interested in their application.  Receiving that rejection email  stings, but at over half of the universities honored the time and interest I put into applying and wrote back.  Delicious!


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