Friday, March 10, 2006

Tacky, but I'd expect no less


Got a rejection letter from my old department in today's mail. You know, the department that wouldn't consider me for a post-doctoral faculty fellowship. This is from the same chair who wrote I am sorry if I slipped up if the obligation was mine. This was for a faculty post in the same department. The fellowship was intended to hedge my bets.

The funny thing is this is nearly the exact letter they sent out two years ago when they first opened the search. See... by the time they got around to interviewing then, ALL of their top picks had already accepted posts elsewhere. And it took them a full season to convince the dean they should be allowed to reopen it.

As a model for tacky rejection letters, I think this one is tops:

Dear Dr. ________:

Thank you for applying for the position of Assistant Professor of ______________. We had many fine candidates, making the process of selecting a small group of finalists difficult and lengthy. I am writing to report that your candidacy for the post is no longer under consideration.

[So far nothing too bad. Nothing pleasant, but standard drab... then he writes:]

The finalists chosen were considered to have the skills, knowledge and experience that closely meet our needs. We appreciate your interest in employment at the [University of Paradise], and wish you success in pursuing other opportunities.

[Oh, so you mean everyone else was considered not to have the skills, knowledge and experience that fit your standards... I see.... Oh, and by the way, good luck in landing a dishwashing job somewhere. You know, other opportunities] And... to top it off, the signature is a really bad pixelized digital reproduction.

Okay, a little bit of sour grapes on my part I suppose. But it is one of the worst written letters I've gotten. A little bit of dignity and respect for having completed a PhD wouldn't hurt, now would it?


ABD Anonymous said...

I almost wish these letters would just say "We regret to inform you that you were not chosen for this job/grant/whatever" and leave out all the other BS.

ArticulateDad said...

For all those curious, I was already informed of not being on their short list by a friend (who happened to be on their search committee) in an email back on January 10. That gives you a sense of how long these things take. It took them two months after deciding I was no longer being considered, to get around to officially informing me of the fact.

That alone tells me something about their attitudes toward candidates. Does it mean they were holding out, and didn't want to inform anyone until they had made an offer? What were they going to do, go back to the rejects pile? I don't think so. It's just a matter of professional courtesy.

Insert-alias-here said...

Actually, most search committees do not contact candidates (except outright rejected/no way in hell candidates) until a contract is signed, or a search is declared dead in the water. This leaves them the option of dipping deeper into the pool should the original candidates reject them, without having to reopen a search.

It definitely sucks for those who get the late late letters, but after enough time on the job hunt, you generally get a sense of the time table and know when too long has gone by. Pus, you can always call HR and ask after the status of the search -- they'll tell you if candidates have been brought to campus yet, which should give you a sense of where you fall in the pile...

Caleb said...

I once got a late letter that opened, "As you may have guessed, we have selected another candidate for our position in ..."

Okay, maybe the veil of memory is distorting the wording in my mind a little bit, but I know the "as you may have guessed" part was there.

Professor Zero said...

Sounds to me as though the committee didn't agree easily, and whoever wrote the letter felt they needed to affirm that the finalists chosen were the right ones for the department.

My chair did something similar just this week: in a letter to advisors campus wide about a course description change that they need to know about, he went on about the reasons for the change, and forgot to explain what it meant in practical terms, for advisees.
Which was the point.

Practicality for you: it's only March.
Something for next year still has time to appear. It'll be nice not to be in this department--although I know that's cold comfort now.