This post is jointly written by Steve Heard and Jacquelyn Gill, and appears in addition on Jacquelyn’s blog The Contemplative Mammoth
A couple of weeks ago, one of us (Steve) posted “How to write, and read, a (job) rejection letter”. (I should clarify that we’re talking here about the university/college academic job market*). One piece of advice to job candidates got some interesting pushback on Twitter, including from Jacquelyn. It was this piece:
Finally, realize that the letter isn’t an invitation to further conversation…Don’t contact the letter writer, or anyone else, to ask for further feedback (not even “so I can improve my future applications”). Believe me, we understand how much you want that feedback, because when we were in your position we wanted it too. But the same confidentiality considerations that kept the letter short and a bit vague apply to later conversations too.
A number of people reported having asked for and received such feedback, and others suggested they thought they had the right to do so. This interests me!
It’s possible Steve is wrong about this (he hastens to point out it’s possible he’s wrong about almost anything). It’s also possible that Jacquelyn has gotten bad advice, or that there’s been a cultural shift as the job market has become more competitive. It seems there’s quite a bit of variation in experience – and we wonder if there might be some disconnect in preferences from the applicant and search committee sides of the interaction. So, please help us get some feel for what people do about feedback and why, from both the job-applicant and the search-committee perspective. Here are some simple poll questions. Please answer the “job candidate” set or the “search committee member” set (or both if you’ve recently been in both roles):
Poll questions for job candidates:
Poll questions for search-committee members:
We’ll compile responses and post them, with some thoughts, in a week or so. (UPDATE: here it is). If you have comments that don’t easily fit into poll responses, please leave a Reply below!
© Stephen Heard and Jacquelyn Gill June 21, 2017
*^There are, of course, other job markets academics/scientists will find themselves on, including those for scientist and other positions in governments and NGOs. And there are other markets still for non-academic jobs. In this post, we’d like to hear about experiences with university/college academic jobs. This does not mean that other jobs are or should be valued less; merely that we have to bound our sampling universe somewhere! Thanks to Alex Bond for forcing me to think more clearly about this.