A nice way to be rejected & thoughts on the job search.

I’ve been applying for jobs over the past year, and it’s a pretty terrible task. Asking people to judge me is not one of my favorite things in the world. Even when I was playing bass in the world’s greatest band that you’ve never heard of, I always focused on packing up the gear and getting things organized after a show. That way I didn’t really have to deal with finding out what people thought about us.

Now it’s pretty much the same. The one great outcome of these applications is that I keep reinforcing the progress I’m making in my post-doctoral research. Over the past year and a half I’ve been able to get a lot of work done, and I think it’s reflected in my cv and my publication record. It’s nice to be able to update it each month with a new talk, a new paper, a poster or two, and know that I’m getting somewhere, making myself more competitive, and slowly shrugging off that horrible impostor syndrome.

I’ve been thinking about posting a list of everywhere I’ve been rejected so far, and how they’ve rejected me (no notification, email notification, phone call, bottle cast into the sea), but I’m not sure how a future hiring committee would process that kind of list. I did want to mention one specific rejection though. I applied to Concordia University in Montreal, QC for a tenure track position, and the rejection letter came signed in the mail. Honestly, it’s the little things that matter. That kind of care is a good reflection on the faculty in the department.

It’s a message I’ll take to heart, and I promise that when I reject people (someday!) I’ll send them a letter too. Won’t that be nice?


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Assistant scientist in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Studying paleoecology and the challenges of large data synthesis.

2 thoughts on “A nice way to be rejected & thoughts on the job search.”

  1. Interesting idea. I’m surprised there’s not an anon wiki somewhere about job rejections (maybe there is). When I talk to my advisor about my job search she is always surprised by “bad” rejections and SC behavior. But then will admit that they do the same to applicants all the time.

    Best rejection I got was from a SLAC. It felt both nice and honest. I may actually have the letter sitting around here.

    1. There’s certainly the opportunity for something like this. The Ecology Jobs wiki could have this functionality, but what is the point ultimately? To shame SCs into being nicer to applicants? To re-assure applicants that perceived poor behavior is common? Or to let us all know that at the very least, decisions have been made?

      Of course, I’d like to see it happen to some degree, but I’m not sure what the point is myself! Just to make me feel better?

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