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Author Topic: rejection notices  (Read 18423 times)
elven
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« on: February 23, 2010, 3:33:52 AM »

A few days ago, I received a phone call informing me that I was rejected for a job for which I had a very positive campus interview. For me, this was a difficult rejection because it means that my academic career will not continue past this year. If pigs fly, I might be successful next cycle, but I cannot imagine being a desirable candidate if I am unemployed or working at a big box store. With this in mind, I was not as poised as I wanted to be when I heard the committee's decision.

Some of my colleagues have also received rejection calls,  and found them quite unsettling. If the call allowed for some discussion, it would be useful, but that's never the case. Given that the call is made with the sole purpose of delivering bad news, is there a reason that search chairs might prefer a phone call to a letter?
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barred_owl
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2010, 3:43:09 AM »

Sorry to hear your report, elven.  Hope you'll have better luck in the future.

As far as phoning vs. alternative forms of delivery, my guess is that (1) it's faster, and (2) it's more personal.  After all, the committee spoke to you in person, probably had dinner with you, etc.  You were one of 3-4 invited for a face-to-face interview, so there may be some sense of obligation to deliver the news more personally, via a phone call, than to send a relatively impersonal letter.  Not all committees take this route, of course, but there are times when a committee chair is compelled to make a call rather than cause you to wait until a letter is delivered.

In some ways, the phone call is a blessing, as it could allow you to consider other options--if any remain--this late in the season.

Oh, and FWIW, don't sell yourself short regarding next season.  There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of others who are taking survival jobs until the next hiring season starts.  Even if you have to work at a big-box store, as long as you keep up with pubs and such, there's no reason you shouldn't be just as viable next time around.
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elven
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2010, 8:12:38 PM »

Thanks for your kind reply.

I understand, but many of us really are at the end of our ropes due to this terrible hiring season.

The search committee doesn't know my personal life, even though we chatted about personal things at dinner. They don't know that they were the last hope for this hiring cycle,  and they don't know that I will have no job at all in a few short weeks, despite applying for everything and anything I could possibly do, with or without a degree.   I'm sure that the caller heard the disappointment in my voice, and although I wish I could have kept my disappointment to myself at such a painful time, I couldn't.

I'm in the camp that would have preferred a letter. It's hard to be neutral or congratulatory to someone delivering the bad news, and a letter would have allowed me to save face.  A colleague got the bad news call right before going to class, and claimed allergies, when he was actually tearing up during his lecture.  It's just really tough right now. 

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lornadoom
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2010, 11:07:04 PM »

elven, I'm very sorry, and I completely relate--both to the sense of futility/frustration/defeat, and also to the discomfort with the phone-notification, which, however well-intended (as it surely was), is so very hard to handle. Don't feel too bad about letting the disappointment show--it's only natural. And good luck with whatever you do; I'm hanging in there in the contingent-faculty trenches for the moment, but I have friends who are smart, dedicated, and accomplished who are dropping out of academia for precisely your reasons. I hate to see it happen, but maybe in a few years I'll wish I had followed you and them . . .
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libarts
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2010, 6:58:40 PM »

Elven, I'm sorry that you got "the call." I actually have to make "the call" to people on a regular basis, and it's one of the more unhappy things I have to do. First, please don't think of it as a "rejection" in the sense that you were deemed "unworthy" of a given job. Of course I don't know your particular case, but most of time when I'm letting someone know they didn't get the job, it's not because they wouldn't have been a great hire--it's because someone else just had a little bit of an edge and we only had one position. I really am as sorry that we can't hire this person as I say.

Second, why a phone call? Because I don't want to leave people hanging. I know how important this is to each candidate; my call will either change their lives or bring huge disappointment. I feel that I owe the courtesty of a prompt phone call. I understand that the "no" call is a very challenging one to receive, but keep in mind that your response tells the caller a great deal. I expect to hear disappointment (if the person isn't disappointed, I wonder if they really wanted the job in the first place). When someone is gracious--thanks me for calling, says they appreciated the interview, whatever they can muster--I hang up the phone thinking that this is someone I would like to work with. And more than once, the person's name has come around again--we've even hired people for a second position. Heck, I didn't get the job at my current institution the first time out. On the flip side, when someone is angry or rude, I end the call thinking I dodged a bullet in not making that particular hire.

So disappointing as the no call is, try to think of it as one last opportunity to show your class and composure. You just never know might happen with the same people in the future.
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quasihumanist
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2010, 7:20:00 PM »

I don't put my phone number on application materials, and so far no SC has asked for it, as they have all seemed to be happy with e-mail.  So I doubt I'll get any rejection phone calls.
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biop_grad
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« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2010, 7:50:57 PM »

I don't put my phone number on application materials, and so far no SC has asked for it, as they have all seemed to be happy with e-mail.  So I doubt I'll get any rejection phone calls.


Did you receive offers despite your ... lack of ability to be phone interviewed?  I'm intrigued ....

(not meant to be snarky, just finding it odd)
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quasihumanist
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2010, 7:59:57 PM »

I don't put my phone number on application materials, and so far no SC has asked for it, as they have all seemed to be happy with e-mail.  So I doubt I'll get any rejection phone calls.


Did you receive offers despite your ... lack of ability to be phone interviewed?  I'm intrigued ....

(not meant to be snarky, just finding it odd)

Conference interviews rather than phone interviews are standard in the segment of the job market in my field I'm applying in.

Let me make it clear that I have nothing against giving out my phone number; it's just that calling me without setting up a time first is an extremely poor way to try to reach me.
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post_functional
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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2010, 11:51:21 PM »

Elven, I'm sorry that you got "the call." I actually have to make "the call" to people on a regular basis, and it's one of the more unhappy things I have to do. First, please don't think of it as a "rejection" in the sense that you were deemed "unworthy" of a given job. Of course I don't know your particular case, but most of time when I'm letting someone know they didn't get the job, it's not because they wouldn't have been a great hire--it's because someone else just had a little bit of an edge and we only had one position. I really am as sorry that we can't hire this person as I say.

Second, why a phone call? Because I don't want to leave people hanging. I know how important this is to each candidate; my call will either change their lives or bring huge disappointment. I feel that I owe the courtesty of a prompt phone call. I understand that the "no" call is a very challenging one to receive, but keep in mind that your response tells the caller a great deal. I expect to hear disappointment (if the person isn't disappointed, I wonder if they really wanted the job in the first place). When someone is gracious--thanks me for calling, says they appreciated the interview, whatever they can muster--I hang up the phone thinking that this is someone I would like to work with. And more than once, the person's name has come around again--we've even hired people for a second position. Heck, I didn't get the job at my current institution the first time out. On the flip side, when someone is angry or rude, I end the call thinking I dodged a bullet in not making that particular hire.

So disappointing as the no call is, try to think of it as one last opportunity to show your class and composure. You just never know might happen with the same people in the future.

Screw that.  I say let candidates have their bitter moments in private.
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palla
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« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2010, 11:08:52 AM »


Screw that.  I say let candidates have their bitter moments in private.

But candidates can have their bitter moments in private.  As soon as they hang up the phone.

libarts, I appreciate the call and your post.

elven, sorry for your tough times.
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paulsa
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« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2010, 12:36:30 PM »

Living in the age of Wiki, and considering what the passage of a certain amount of time suggests to me, I've never been in doubt about whether or not I got a job by the time I got "the call," and I've received four of them now over four hiring cycles. I'm sorry this happened to you though. First of all, unless somebody is a cold-hearted bastard, they're not going to hold it against you if you melted a little on the phone under such circumstances. So don't give it a second thought. In my case, I tend to think that the person on the other end of the line could very well be somebody I'll have professional contact with in the future, in some capacity, or be connected to those with whom I will. If you can manage it (fake it if necessary), I think there's some benefit to showing yourself to be a good sport during the call. While I don't exactly send them Christmas cards, I've actually kept up a small amount of contact with some of the people who served on search committees who rejected me, and without (I hope) being stalkerish about it, have approached and said hi to them at conferences and the like.

There's absolutely nothing pleasant about such rejection, but if you really do want to work in academia, not landing a job this year does not mean the end of the line. Far from it, and there are loads of very employable people out there whose times just hasn't arrived. It feels hopeless sometimes, and this from somebody who knows, but if it's what you really want, you must keep plugging away. A few months after my first rejection call after a campus visit, I unexpectedly picked up a nice little two-year visiting job in a much better situation and at a higher salary than the school that rejected me & took a year off from job-hunting. Since coming back onto the market, Iíve had three campus interviews over  two yearsóall of which led to nothing but that awkward phone call. Between my first phone call and my last one (last week), Iíve published two fairly well-received and well-reviewed books in my field, and am quite frankly now being turned down by some committees composed of people with fewer professional and educational accomplishments than I have.  Annoying and aggravating? Yes, but my point is that if itís something you really want, donít give up. There are ways to keep your hand in the game besides holding a tenure track job.
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offthemarket
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« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2010, 12:56:19 PM »

I think calling people to tell them they didn't get the job is cruel, I'd much prefer an email.  It usually is a letdown (though in some cases a moment of relief), and I'd rather have that moment in private.

I've never gotten a call telling me I didn't get the job.  All but one of my offers came by phone (one initial offer by email!), and all my rejections by email or post (or once, just saying nothing).
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icicles
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« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2010, 3:31:37 PM »

I think calling people to tell them they didn't get the job is cruel, I'd much prefer an email.  It usually is a letdown (though in some cases a moment of relief), and I'd rather have that moment in private.

I've never gotten a call telling me I didn't get the job.  All but one of my offers came by phone (one initial offer by email!), and all my rejections by email or post (or once, just saying nothing).

Agree completely. There's nothing wrong with a simple, kindly-worded email, especially if you're trying to send news out on your own schedule, and especially if you want to leave precise records of your interactions with a candidate.

One of the worst job market experiences I have had was getting a phone call from a search committee chair at an odd hour on a weekend day rejecting me for the job. I had previously considered weekends a "safe" time from job market correspondence, especially the negative kind, but apparently some committees have different ideas.

It's cold comfort when people say, "you wouldn't have wanted to be there anyway" because I would die for any employment next year at this point. 

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paulsa
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« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2010, 8:36:45 PM »

Well, there are obviously strong differences of opinion about this. Perhaps search committee chairs ought to ask finalists at some point in the process how they'd like to be notified of developments in the search? That wouldn't be difficult at all.

I don't understand why, however, if you're gonna feel crushed by not landing the job, an email is really any better. The email could also arrive during the weekend, right before you teach a class, just before you head to the doctor's office for your colonoscopy, etc., and the real problem is the news, not the medium. You've got to get the news somehow, and do you really expect them to be able to somehow time the news to your personal schedule and emotional ability to receive it? How are they supposed to do that?

I guess it's just me, but considering how cold and impersonal (if not downright Kafkaesque) most of these interactions with academic employers are, I really appreciate the phone call. After going through all of the trouble and expense of applying, traveling to a conference to meet with them, flying out to their university, putting my heart and soul into my presentations, eating meals with them, even meeting their children and spouses in some cases, I'd consider it rude and even downright cowardly of them to send me an email. Call me arrogant, but I see what they're telling me as something akin to a shameful confession of their own lack of taste and discretion! I almost pity them.
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larryc
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« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2010, 8:46:22 PM »

So sorry, Elven.
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