Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The worst things about applying for a faculty position

From the 2016-17 Chemistry Faculty Candidate Survey, the answers to the following questions:

What was worst about the hiring process?
  • Inconsistent requirements in different universities, makes things tedious. Also, lack of transparency and knowing what a university is looking for makes it hard to know where to apply sometimes, or where to put more time and effort.
  • Lack of humanity. Sending a rejection takes ~5 seconds (form letter) and is usually done by a secretary. We spend ~30-60 per application AFTER having a template, and for many schools much longer if they require something unique for that application. It's a demoralizing a shitty feeling to toss your application into the circular file when you put so much work into every single submission.
  • All the various complicated systems for submitting materials. I thought interfolio might help that, but strangely the 4 applications I put in through their system were 4 of the 8 applications that I got no phone/Skype follow up. I preferred the option to simply send a pdf directly to the committee, because at least then there's no uncertainty that the materials got through. Also, phone interviews are terrible compared to video interviews. Lots of awkward silences while people take notes, or whatever, and it's so hard to get a feel for how things are being recieved when you can't see any body language.
  • Waiting to hear back from schools
  • recommendation letter
  • Non transparent hiring procedure, high research expectations even from small PUIs
  • The time I committed to the faculty position process with the disappointing realization that I likely will not be able to continue pursuing a faculty position.
  • Late Responses
  • The lack of jobs
  • Everything else, but especially that each University requires a different number and type of documents, with varying page lengths/contents, etc. Of course they are different employers so I will put some effort into each of them, but that makes it stressful and time-consuming.
  • The amount of time it took to hear back after applying, interviewing, etc.
  • Some of the schools had wonky HR websites, that were full of bugs. One school made me mail physical LORs, which was a pain. 
  • The wait between interview and hearing (or not) about an offer.
  • different submission websites that wasted my time
  • Having to ask people for recommendation letters for positions they clearly thought I was overqualified for.
  • Writing proposals and the fear of being judged for your ideas. 
  • Deadlines all over the place
  • No feedback
  • Large amount of time until hearing rejections
  • The uncertainty (of getting interviews, offers, not knowing where I would be)
  • Skype interviews can be very awkward. Coordinating all the support letter submissions, especially for faculty who are doing everything themselves (no administrative assistant). On campus interviews are usually pretty intense, tiring, and require a lot of preparation.
  • Waiting. That's obvious, maybe how each university's application process is ever so slightly different it makes it difficult know how to apply to a specific one. 
  • I could go on and on and on about this. In brief, I think the most frustrating part was that academic merit matters little. What matters most is who you have worked for and how well connected your PhD advisor/Postdoc advisor is to the department you are applying to. I don't have a fancy "academic pedigree".... But I have a very strong publication record and even bring some of my own $... So foolishly I hoped to get more then just 2 interviews. I continue to ponder why I fell short. My field of expertise was not the most popular niche during this hiring cycle it seems, but guessing from the people who ended up getting a lot of interviews, unfortunately, academic pedigree and connections beat publication record and even pre-existing funding any time. 
  • Waiting
  • Not getting a job
  • stupid job application websites; 
  • Mental anguish
  • lack of transparency and poor timing of rejections
  • Juggling timelines for visits and offers

5 comments:

  1. What is this existing funding that one candidate thought they might bring with them? I'm curious, assuming this is someone applying for a first-time assistant prof gig.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Could be an NIH K99, it's postdoc-->faculty funding

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    2. NIH K99 or Burroughs Welcome

      Delete
  2. -Also, lack of transparency and knowing what a university is looking for makes it hard to know where to apply sometimes, or where to put more time and effort.

    -Lack of humanity. Sending a rejection takes ~5 seconds (form letter) and is usually done by a secretary.

    -Some of the schools had wonky HR websites, that were full of bugs.

    Sounds an awful lot like applying for a job in industry!

    I'm surprised more departments don't try to bypass university HR. When I applied to graduate programs, it was a pretty standard thing for me to be asked to send my application directly to the department and bypass the university's official application process.

    ReplyDelete