So I’ve been reading PGS and friends gripe, in a sympathy-eliciting sort of way, about how hard it is to get hired. I’m not trying to get hired this year. (I already have a job, thank you very much.) But my department is trying to hire this year, and I’m on the M&E search committee. So I thought it was time for someone to gripe, in a sympathy-eliciting sort of way, about how hard it is to hire. But I realize that it will be well-nigh impossible to elicit sympathy, from those who are trying to get hired, for those who are trying to hire. So I won’t try to elicit sympathy. Instead, I thought I would do something else: namely, induce panic, despair, angst, ennui, etc. by telling those who are trying to get hired what those who are trying to hire actually do.
I’m at a Leiterespectable department that has aspirations of being Leiterrific. Our deadline was last week, and we’ve received hundreds of applications. We’ll be holding a series of meetings over the next month to come up with a list of a dozen or so candidates that we want to interview at the APA. The first step is to rule out all but 50 or so of the applications. Each file will get looked at by more than one committee member. We’re responsible like that. But on what basis do you think that we will rule out all but 50 or so of the applications? I’ll give you a clue: it doesn’t involve reading any writing samples. It’s not that we’re not required to read any writing samples. Nor is it that some irresponsible committee members won’t read writing samples. It’s that we’re all encouraged not to read any part of any candidate's writing sample at this stage.
That’s right, boys and girls. I know you’ve been slaving away at your writing samples for months now. I just wanted to tell you that, if other departments are anything like ours, chances are that most of the departments that reject you will reject you without reading your work. (Whether this is better, or worse, than being rejected by someone who has read your work, I don’t know.) You may get indignant if you like. I’m just here to tell you how things actually work.
Don’t shoot the messenger. If you shoot the messenger, I won’t come back and tell you about all the other horrible things that we do.