My university department is hiring – two positions at once, which is unusual and extremely exciting for us (both positions close February 29, 2020, if you’re interested). We’re looking for a food web ecologist and a neurobiologist. Except that if you read the job ads, we’re looking for those things with the usual laundry list of preferably subdisciplines, study systems, and techniques. Not long after the ads posted, a colleague of mine described the neurobiology one as “so focused… cannabinoids in zebrafish?” and wondered if there was any point in anyone else applying; indeed, wondering if the ad might be targeted at a single individual. This raises a question that’s much more general than our Neurobiology ad: when you see a job ad with a preferably, how much should you read into it?
Image: Still from “Silly Job Interview”, Monty Pythons’ Flying Circus, Season 1 Episode 5.
Years ago, I went on a really, really weird job interview. I’ve told the story many times since, but I’ve realized that the way I tell it has shifted. There’s a moral there, only part of which is that I was dumb. (Readers of Scientist Sees Squirrel really like stories about how I was dumb, and fortunately, it’s a deep well.)
As a postdoc, back in the mid-1990s, I applied for a lot of jobs (all of them in the university professoriate, at universities with at least some research emphasis). Most of them, of course, I didn’t get. Continue reading
Several months ago, I wrote about how to write, and read, a job rejection letter. I know a lot about those. I also know quite a bit about manuscript rejections (as most of us do). I’ve received so many I’ve lost track, and I’ve written as many or more as an editor. Just as with job rejections, there are better manuscript rejections and worse ones. Continue reading
Image: Feedback © Alan Levine CC BY 2.0
This post is jointly written by Steve Heard and Jacquelyn Gill, and appears in addition on Jacquelyn’s blog The Contemplative Mammoth
Early this summer, we asked for your experience and your attitudes about the practice of candidates’ asking for feedback on their (unsuccessful) job applications (with respect to university/college academic jobs). We polled both job candidates and search committee members, and here we’ll report the results and give you some of our thoughts. We also hope you’ll leave your own thoughts and share your experiences in the Replies.
(1) It’s hard to write a poll Continue reading
Photos: Header: (part of) one of my many, many rejections. Embedded image: the whole thing.
I’ve gotten a lot of rejection letters over my career. Job rejections, grant rejections, manuscript rejections, fellowship rejections – you name it. Every scientist does. I’ve also written quite a few rejection letters – mostly, in my roles as an editor and as Department Chair. I don’t like writing them much more than I like receiving them. But if there’s a bright side to this coin, it’s that my all-too-extensive experience suggests that there are better rejection letters and worse ones. I can suggest a few ways to steer the ones you write, and the ones you read, towards the “better” category (and please add your own thoughts in the Replies). Today, rejection letters for academic job applicants. In a future post, I’ll tackle rejection letters for manuscripts. Continue reading
Warning: gets a bit wonkish near the end.
Have you ever noticed that the mayor of a small town is fairly often a bonehead? There’s a simple reason we’d expect that to be true – and that simple reason has implications for academic searches, the traits we analyze in ecology and systematics, and lots of other things, too (please add to my list in the Replies). The simple reason is this: it’s really hard to estimate extremes. It’s also really hard to understand why so many people act as if they’re unaware of this.
Let’s start with those mayors. Continue reading