The blog Female Science Professor has been running a competition to write the most inappropriate, hurtful or downright crazy rejection letters to scientists applying for research posts and positions at universities. Their realism make them slightly depressing reading but the style will be familiar enough to many job seekers.
They range from the better-late-than-never department…
January 28, 2015
We, at the University of Wisconsin, would like to thank you for taking the time to express your interest in the FACULTY-OPEN RANK position that you applied for on December 10, 2009. We have now completed the search process and unfortunately you were unsuccessful. Nevertheless, it is our hope that you will continue to consider other employment opportunities at our institution in the future. Please continue to visit our job site for the most current opportunities.
Search and Screen Committee Chair
…to the rubbing-your-nose-in-it.
Thank you very much for interviewing for the open position, Director of Herding Cats. We were impressed with your qualifications and we all enjoyed your visit several months ago. I do apologize for the long delay in getting back to you, but I believe Professor Tuna, head of the search committee, informed you that we made an offer to another candidate. We appreciate your continued interest in the position.
At this stage, after negotiating a counter offer with her home institution, the candidate has decided to leave the field and accept a highly lucrative position in industry. The search committee has recommended that, as the second-ranked candidate on the short list, you be offered the position next.
Unfortunately, the Department Head decided to reopen the interview process by inviting someone ranked below the short list, an acquaintance of his. That candidate has been offered and has accepted the position.
Thank you again for your interest.
Then there are the honest-but-not-much-comfort entries…
Thank you for your interest in our advertised position. I am very sorry to announce that after careful consideration of your 36 page application by a panel of international experts, we are unable to offer you an interview.
If this makes you feel any better, please consider that despite flying 12 international experts in from around the world, spending an entire week sorting through all the applications in a very expensive conference centre, the result of this is nearly equivalent to a random process.
I say this constructively, i.e. to encourage you to apply again to any future positions we may advertise, since the quality of applications is ultimately uncorrelated with selection to the short list.
An. Eminent Professor (who also happens to be your former advisor).
…and the short-but-not-so-sweet
The Search Committee
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.