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Hi Marcus,
I think you are correct to warn people against applying (i) for jobs outside their REAL AOS, and (ii) "open" jobs. At (at least some) state schools, Human Resources Departments keep a close eye on searches, and will not allow committees to stray far from what is advertised. And there really has to be evidence that a claimed AOS is really an applicant's AOS. And, even back in the late 1990s, I received letters from search committees from departments with open ads saying they had over 500 applicants. Be realistic. Do not waste your time.

Marcus Arvan

thoughts: Glad to hear you agree. I think candidates worry that if they don't apply to everything (even real stretches beyond their AOS), they will be selling themselves short. This is basically what I thought: "why not buy a lottery ticket?" This seems to me an understandable thing for candidates to think--but again, after seven years on the market, I did not receive a single interview for a "stretch" job. They do indeed, as you say, appear to be a waste of one's time, not to mention the time of search committees.

Michel X.

It doesn't really seem like there's much of a downside to applying for the "open" jobs, though: they're just another thing to add to the pile. I guess one shouldn't really pin any of one's hopes on the open searches, but then the same seems to apply to any other job ad. Or is there a cost I'm overlooking?

Marcus Arvan

Hi Michel: I didn't mean to suggest that there are costs to applying for "open" jobs (above and beyond wasted time). Far from it. I applied to basically all of them myself! My point was just that--based on personal experience--one shouldn't expect too much from them.

Scott Clifton


I think the argument that setting up interviews before the deadline is unfair goes something like this:

Search committees will have a limited number of interview slots they seek to fill. When they schedule interviews before the deadline, they are beginning to consume the precious resource of interview slots. Those ads that are worded in the way you state above--in order to receive full consideration, you should apply by X--imply that, so long as you apply by the deadline, you WILL receive full consideration. I don't think any reasonable person reads ads worded in this way as leaving open the possibility that you might not receive full consideration even if you apply by the deadline. What this statement signals is that, while you may apply past the deadline--for which some job ads don't even allow--you should be aware that you might NOT receive full consideration.

But if the statement does imply that you WILL receive full consideration so long as you apply by the deadline, it seems to many--and myself, I think--that setting up interviews prior to the deadline is deceptive or outright dishonest. If you apply well ahead of the deadline and get an interview scheduled not long afterward, then when I apply just before the deadline, I am not receiving full consideration, or as full as you did, since some of the interview slots--at least one: yours--are not open to me. The reasonable person, I think, assumes that the full consideration-type deadline indicates that application materials will not be seriously reviewed until the deadline has passed.

Now, all of your practical points are still correct, since what should happen often doesn't, especially when it comes to job searches. So we should all take steps to increase our chances when we can. Nevertheless, it does seem unfair, or maybe just deceptive, for search committees to conversationally imply that you will be equally considered so long as you apply by the deadline, and then to give "fuller" consideration to those who apply early.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Scott: Thanks for your comment. I think that's a fair point! In full-disclosure, I do not know (or have reason to believe) that I received any interviews before "For full consideration, apply by X"-type jobs. I do think it is wrong for those types of jobs to offer interviews before those types of deadlines. But this was not the complaint I recall encountering at the Smoker, and I am not aware of any cases of those types of advertised jobs setting up interviews before their "for full consideration" deadlines (if there are such cases, I would like to know!).

Rather, the complaint I encountered at the Smoker--if I recall correctly--was that it is unfair *simpliciter* for jobs to offer interviews before their deadlines. I think that claim is mistaken, for reasons I give in the post.

In any case, thanks again for your comment. I completely agree.

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