This is the time of year — again! — when they start cleaning their desks and send holiday greetings to unsuccessful applicants. I don’t even have to open these emails anymore to know what’s there. I just got one today.
Dear Dr. Doctor,
Thank you for your recent application.
The appointing committees have now had a chance to consider your application and have on this occasion decided not to take it any further.
You were up against some outstanding candidates and the choice of the shortlist was very difficult.
On behalf of whoever it is who couldn’t bother to write himself, I should like to thank you for your interest in applying.
With best wishes,
The other one came last week. I don’t remember what the application was about because the letter referred to it by some number and right now I am too tired to look it up. Most probably it was regarding the position advertised last Summer. I liked the wording so much that I made a note of it:
To continue its policy of investment in excellent people, the School of Something Else at the University of Poshborough is seeking to appoint up to (some number) high calibre individuals at either high or even higher level.
But I am the excellent people! How come they don’t see that?
I know. This is all my fault, really. Instead of just sending the application off and forgetting about it, I am worrying that they will expect more of me than I can deliver. So I put all sorts of ridiculous stuff in my covering letter. For example:
As you can see from my CV, I do not have a strong record of teaching at the university.
How’s that? I bet nobody else is doing this. My goal is to convince them that I am the best candidate to fill the position, not some sort of impostor. If they can see something from my CV, then they will see. Or maybe not. The point is not to worry about that.
Another mistake I keep on repeating is to do an informal enquiry, whenever such an option exists.
Dear Professor Professor,
I would like to apply for a position of Somebody in Something as advertised somewhere. However before sending the full application, I am asking for your kind advice.<insert a stupid bit about not having a strong record of doing Something>
I do not wish to waste the expert committee’s time. <Why?> Therefore I would greatly appreciate your frank opinion whether I should proceed with full application.
Dear Dr. Doctor,
Thanks for the email and CV. Your career track is a bit unusual and the fact that you have not been active in science in the last three years will probably catch the attention of the assessment committee.
I can not tell you whether to apply or not, it has to be your own decision.
See? Totally absurd query and deservedly useless response.