This begins to get tired and old.
Today's mail brought:
Dear Mr. [ArticulateDad]
<--Interesting. The envelope was addressed to Dr. [ArticulateDad]. Is this a bit of informality, or simply an (un)intended slight? Am I petty to notice these things?-->
Thank you for your interest in the Department of [Field] at [Leading Ivy League Institution]<--in their own humble opinion as gleaned from their website--> We have completed the faculty search and chosen a candidate who best fits our needs at this time.
On behalf of the search committee, I thank you for your interest in the position and wish you well in your job search.
Chair, Faculty Search Committee
[SIGH] I'd say, with my growing expertise on these matters, that this is a middling sort of rejection letter. It's polite enough. Perhaps too brief. But at least they wish me well in my job search, rather than pursuing other opportunities. I feel like I'm describing the bouquet and finish of a nice Merlot, rather than the repeated misery of yet another place where what I have is not what they want.
The problem is what are departments' needs? But then, if I knew, would I be able to reform myself to fit their mold? Mostly, I try to avoid the postings that specify in a bit too much detail exactly what they are looking for. But it all depends. The size of the program determines a great deal about the sorts of classes one will need to cover. I'm happy teaching.
I try to read each posting individually, judging it on its own merits. (I'd like to think each committee extends the same courtesy to me.) I research the school and the department and try to envision myself working there, teaching there, interacting with those faculty as colleagues. I investigate other departments with which I might seek collaborations. I look at faculty research interests within and beyond the department. Only when I'm satisfied there is something workable (and let me tell you, if I've applied for nearly 50 jobs this year, my standards can't be too restrictive, now can they?) I draft up a cover letter, and whatever other materials are needed, and I send them off.
So far, what I've gotten in return does not quite fit my needs at this time.