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There is no HR reason i can think of to not to notify someone after a flyout, once an offer has already been accepted. That is just the *faculty* being assholes. I do think at the first stage there is admin reasons for not doing pfos earlier.


In the fall I applied to a postdoc position. I wasn't explicitly notified about this, but I've since learned that my application was unsuccessful. They're now advertising open positions for this postdoc with a new spring deadline for applications. So my question is: is there any point for me to reapply for this position?


Unsuccessful: Of course - if, that is, you want the postdoc. Virtually all professors and post-docs you see were not #1 for the vast majority of places to which they applied. That doesn't mean the places didn't think highly of them!


Unsuccessful: also, it's quite unlikely it will be the same search committee. So your past rejection means very little about a future rejection.

Endless Apps

About job titles: I, like lots of people, have a very long list of "adjunct lecturer" job titles on my CV. This is my second year on the job market, and last year I simply put "adjunct lecturer." But this year our university's placement people suggested I just put "lecturer," and that this wasn't a big deal. Even though I'm working a full-time load by most standards (3-5 classes per semester), I'm not technically a full-time employee. What do people think?

Marcus Arvan

Endless Apps: I think you might get away with it, but technically it's lying on your CV. Full-time lecturer positions (e.g. at schools like mine) are a very different kind of job, with different responsibilities. Maybe it's unlikely anyone will catch it and raise a fuss, but if they did it could create a heap of trouble for you.


I think a general problem here is that there's too much variation in how non tenure track work is categorized. At my institution, you can be teaching a course not on the tenure track and have 4-6 different job titles. One of those titles is Lecturer, and our use of "Lecturer" doesn't entail that you're full time or a permanent member of the department.

Slac Tenured Professor & Chair

Endless Apps:
Why attempt to deceive? Just state it as it is. It would be a deal beaker if I discovered someone lied on their application to me. Your experience is not a deal breaker.

Someone this year lied about having a forthcoming article in a special issue that I was a part of. It sunk their application at my institution.

In short, just be honest and keep plugging away and something will work out.

Endless Apps

Yeah, I've gone ahead and reverted my CV. My understanding was that it was a matter of emphasis, rather than deception. But I can see how skirting that line isn't actually helpful for an application!


Slac Tenured Professor & Chair - I'm curious about the lie on the CV. Was the issue the paper was just under review for the issue, and not yet accepted? Or did they just completely make it up?


I think it is worth noting that in mid-feb., two TT jobs have been posted. My guess is there is more to come. This is for sure a change in the pace of things. Interestingly, R1 jobs seem to be posted earliest.

Slac Tenured Professor & Chair

Amanda: It was listed as "forthcoming", when it was not yet accepted (still under review at the time we were reviewing the applicant's cv), and in fact, ended up being rejected (after our assessment of the applicant).

Dr. Job Seeker

Here comes another rant. I had a Skype interview two months ago. I know that two weeks later they scheduled fly-outs and that at least some of those (if not all of them) have already happened. Yet I haven't heard a word from them since my Skype interview. It's ridiculous! And I had another Skype interview elsewhere about one month ago. I don't know whether they've scheduled second-round interviews. But I shouldn't have to wait and guess until I simply lose hope.

I understand that there can be policies about when they can send official PFOs, but there is absolutely no reason that search committees cannot send an informal email to say that, although *technically* I'm still a candidate, they have already moved on to second-round interviews. The job market takes enough of a toll on us without this BS on top of it all.


that's a good point. skype interviewees should be notified within a month of whether they've advanced to the next round, or a month and a half if the interview was right before Christmas.


Thanks slac chair. And yeah, that's not cool. He was probably over confident about acceptance but that just won't cut it in a job search.


Dr Job Seeker and Anon,
You do not get it. They cannot send an informal note saying they have moved on, or some angry job seeker will contact HR and threaten to sue. Because an informal note is NOT official, it does not represent the university. Remember faculty are university employees.
To add to this, I worked in the private sector before. There were absolutely no norms around response from interviews. I do not think you are being reasonable here.

Dr. Job Seeker

Anonymous: I think this talk of possible lawsuits is overblown. Threaten to sue? On what possible basis could they threaten to sue? "Your honor, this university interviewed me. And then they told me that I wasn't selected for a second round interview! I would like $1,000,000 please." Perhaps state laws differ and there is some legal prohibition I'm not aware of. But I have dealt with several universities that were very transparent about each step they took in the hiring process. They did not seem to be worried about such lawsuits.

Furthermore, the hiring practice of the "private sector" is not some univocal practice. So perhaps your experience of the private sector involved being ignored after initial interviews. But I also worked in the private sector for 10 years before going into academia and my experience was quite different. The turnaround times were much quicker and the business were much more transparent about their hiring processes. Not once was I simply ignored after interviewing for a position. And besides, even IF every business in the world neglected to notify interviewees, we could still be justified in complaining about that practice. We all know that "is" does not imply "ought."

Dr. Job Seeker

I was a bit flippant in my previous comment. I apologize. Also, I should add that I am genuinely curious which laws are possibly being violated if schools were to do a better job at notifying candidates of where they are in the process.


I've gotten lots of emails after skype interviews saying I didn't make it. So I guess those schools weren't concerned about being sued. Honestly I think the odds of being sued for getting a rejection email are very low, and the odds of it going anywhere are very, very, very, low. I would be pretty surprised if there was any academic example - but if I'm wrong point it out to me.


Hmm.... lots of moving parts here. So there's a point about an informal note. What's formal vs. informal? There's also a worry about suits and/or threats to sue. There is, among other things, a further thought about representing the university.

So a search chair can't represent the department doing the search, and thus the university, in sending out a letter? Don't they so represent in sending campus invitations? I don't see the unreasonableness, though perhaps there's something else to see here.

(Sidenote: Cool re private sector, but is one's experience representative? If so, does that matter in education, which straddles public/private? Just genuinely curious.)


What's the timeline for the market -- when do all the final offers tend to be out? My guess is May-ish. Any idea?


Well a new TT job was just posted two days ago- so hard to say.


I know from various sources that at least 3 of the places I applied to have made offers which were accepted. Yet I got no rejections... Do these SC's or hum res offices not even bother to hit the send button anymore?!... Are we losers not even worth a sorry pfo anymore?! Where does our abuse by these people end?!...

bewilldered, PhD

Does anyone know what "open until filled" means on job ads? I presume it doesn't mean they take the first good looking applicant who comes along--surely the committee has to review a few and deliberate, right? Does it mean as soon as they have enough to review a few? (Often I end up not applying for these jobs unless I really want them, since there's no deadline.)


It is the opposite of what you are thinking. The search committee is not trying to rush things, and take the first that fits their needs. They are saying they will not hire from a pool that arrives on some set date, if they do not like any of the applicants. It permits them to keep looking until they find what they want.


I applied for a TT Assist Prof position at UNC Chapel Hill in September 2016 - I received an official rejection email on October 2018. That's just one example, I have many: being a finalist and getting 3 rejections emails for that position throughout 2 years, etc. Leaving aside the absurdity and ludicrousness of that, as "socially conscious," concerned about "well-being,and "non-discriminatory" about anything universities / philosophy departments claim to be, they propagate precisely the opposite practices through their conduct during job market searches: not being able to send a peer philosopher and PhD as much as a generic and meaningless PFO after 2-4-6 months (or 2 years) does not have to do with laws/privacy, it has to do with the bubble of affected superiority and hypocrisy that academic philosophy has isolated itself into.


Many of us are putting their best into this process of finding an academic job, while going through mental pain, different types of sacrifices, constant feelings of social and intellectual inadequacy, wonderfully unjustified imposter syndromes, etc. is it too much to ask to be treated with the "decency" of being an automatic receiver in a mass PFO email? We overanalyze, rationalize, and wax intellectually about all these absolutely horrendous practices here, but it seems that when we finally become part of the system, picking up the slightest scrap of a position of "authority," we immediately forget how it is to be on the other side: an awkward, pathetic victor's justice.


I get being upset when you have a skype interview, or a flyout, and don't hear from someone. That is rude and I really think there's no excuse for it. When you have a personal connection with someone, and then ignore them, it shows nothing but blatant disrespect. But I don't get being one of 400 applicants and being mad you didn't get a PFO. Why do you want an impersonal form letter from HR? I mean this question sincerely, I just am confused why someone would care. Obviously sending a form letter doesn't mean the department thinks anything of you. I also don't think when I apply to a job that there is any guarantee I will hear from them. If I don't I obviously didn't get the job.

Dr. Job Seeker

Confused: I completely agree. Getting a form rejection letter doesn't mean anything important. I mainly take issue with the lack of communication after interviews.

However, I will say this. If it weren't for this website and the phylo wiki, I would have a list of about 60+ jobs where I would not know whether they had moved onto interviews. Of course, as time moves on, I have more and more reason to believe that they have already scheduled interviews and that I wasn't selected. But I think the complaint is that we shouldn't have to go through this process of waning hope over time. Several schools issue PFOs shortly after making their short/long list. And it's reasonable to expect/want other schools to do the same.


What exactly is involved in a teaching demo? Does the institution normally assign you a topic/class to teach? Or is one expected to come with a class already prepped? Does it vary by institution? Thanks in advance, Cocoon!

Job seeker

LM - it definitely varies by institution. I had one teaching demo where I was asked to teach anything I wanted for an ancient phil class, another where I was asked to teach anything I wanted in decision theory, and another where I was asked to teach on anything I wanted in my AOS. I've also known people who were told to prep whatever was assigned for that day by the professor teaching the course (sometimes in a course relevant to the AOS, sometimes not). The only unifying thing I've seen was not being able to assign readings of your choice. Definitely ask for details from the search chair.


LM, my experience is quite similar to Job seeker's, though I have had the opportunity to assign reading ahead of time (only once). That was for a teaching demo at an elite SLAC, on an Ethics topic of my choice. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the best teaching demo I've done - the students were coming to the lesson with some background knowledge, and I got to use higher-level/more active activities than I otherwise could have.

A less typical example: I once did a teaching demo at a Catholic SLAC that asked me to plan a 30 minute lesson that addressed the question, "“What is the difference between “studying” philosophy and “doing” philosophy?" I could use any content/teaching methods I liked - that was the only instruction I got.

I second asking for as many details as possible from the search chair - who the students are, how many of them there are, what their philosophy background is, what the room is like, whether there's a computer/projector (if you need it), how long the lesson will be, whether faculty will be there to observe or if you'll just be videotaped, etc. It can be helpful to ask for a copy of the syllabus for the course you'll be dropping into to get a sense of what the students have been reading and to think about how to draw connections to things they've already done.


It is amazing how strong and ubiquitous this tendency of exclusionism is. Also picking some fact and building a hierarchy around it to decide who is worthy of what... Even for a lowly pfo they do this... This is how I see it when people say that only those who got interviews deserve pfos and the losers who did not get an interview deserve nothing. Sigh...


When you say someone "deserves" something it typically implies that something has some type of value, otherwise it wouldn't matter. What I question is why a PFO would have any value. Apparently some people want it to move on - but this seems odd since PFOs are rarely timely, and typically by the time I got one I knew it didn't happen.


LM: I've given just one teaching demo, but I was invited to choose any topic in my AOS, and to assign a reading.

I've seen two demos where the department assigned a specific topic: "what's the value of teaching the history of philosophy?" and something about the relationship between teaching in the AOS and curriculum development across the university.

I've also seen several demos where the candidate just taught whatever was assigned for the class that day.


Confused: I suspect that the point about desert is this. If one has invested nontrivial time applying for a position and/or cares about one's chances at the applied-to school, and if a department knows this, then a department might owe it to the person to provide (and the person might deserve to get) a response not long after applying. It is psychologically costly, for many applicants at least, to need to leave open the possibility that various places just might invite one for an interview. Certainty - via, say, a simple 'no, but thanks for applying' to one's application - is less costly. A thought, anyway

Looking for TT

Hey everyone,

I recently had a Skype interview in which I had to give a 15 minute teaching demo. I found it rather difficult, as there wasn't enough time to do an exercise of any sort, and lecturing for the whole time seems like an odd way to do a teaching demo when I do not lecture for the entirety of my classes. Any advice on how to approach this?

Dr. Job Seeker

Looking for TT: A teaching demo over Skype sounds incredibly difficult. You're trapped inside a little computer screen! I can't speak to that specifically, but I can say what I've done for similar in-person teaching demos. Was this for a community college (CC)? In my experience, community colleges have asked me for 15 min teaching demos in my first round interviews and universities have asked for longer teaching demos during the second round where I would take over an actual class for the day. Your approach to each should differ. I'll speak to CC teaching demos since I've done 3 of them at first round interviews and I made it to second round interviews for all three. But that's a small sample size, so take it for what it's worth. Anyway, here are my two cents.

1. State the student learning objectives(SLOs) at the beginning. You only have 15 minutes. What do you want the "students" (i.e. the committee) to know or be able to do after this 15 minute lesson? I typically have 2 (or maybe 3) learning objectives. This way I can state what I aim to achieve and then they can decide if I actually achieved it. This sort of protects you from them thinking "Oh no. She/he should have talked about X" because you already laid out your objectives and X was not part of it. This also demonstrates to the committee that you have thought about SLOs, which CCs in particular care a lot about.

2. It's ok to lecture, but still try to make it interactive. Don't break them into groups and have them do some think-pair-share activity that will take several minutes. You don't have that kind of time. But you can still have them participate in some way. For example, one of my teaching demos was on Descartes. To start the session I asked them to name some ordinary things that they take themselves to know and then I wrote their answers on the board. I then applied Descartes' method of doubt to their first couple examples. And then I let them apply the method of doubt to the last two examples. Another time I was teaching them about inductive arguments and what makes them good/bad. I saved some time at the end for sample arguments and I asked them to identify whether/why the arguments are good or bad. Bottom line: you can still lecture for a significant portion of time while still making it interactive.


Reluctant here. Very shortly, yes, pfo's are important for me because they provide closure which enables me to think of fewer possibilities and make sounder plans for my future, which in turn gives me relative peace of mind. That is smt every human being deserves! I never thought I'd have to explain such an obviously self-evident truth.
By the way, it's late March and I got pfo's from less than half the number of my apps. Where the hell are the damn pfo's? What is going on?!..

another postdoc

Reluctant, as understandable as your desire is, your expectations are off. There will be jobs where you will get no PFO at all, ever. There will be jobs where you get one... in another year. There will probably be a few mid-summer. You can't rely on them and you definitely shouldn't be pinning hopes on them at this point. Sorry to say.


I am well aware of the facts. What I am saying is that I am not wrong to expect the pfo's as just a matter of expecting common courtesy from the departments. It is not wrong of me to expect this as I am a human being!


I don't understand why you need a PFO to move on. At some point (like now) it becomes obvious it didn't work out, so you can move on. To have your hopes on every job you apply to is not a wise psychological strategy. I don't really know whether people deserve PFO's or not. I certainly believe in human rights, but PFO's aren't on my list. Anyway, regardless of whether one deserves it, that is not how things work, and it seems there are just so many more important things to complain about. When schools send PFO's, people complain they weren't worded correctly.


I need a pfo because over the years I saw and knew of several cases in which people were contacted, invited and eventually hired by departments around late april early may. Add to that the fact that hiring has become a year-long business. These are some of the reasons why I need the pfo. I really thought this was self-evident but apparently not for everyone.


Yes, though bracket the self-evidence bit. The issue is that people don't want to need to guess (at all) that they will not be interviewed for, or offered, a given job. Looking at anonymous reporting sites is not sufficient assurance that one is out of the running.


Following up on an earlier conversation about teaching demos via Skype (and thanks to anon 3/12/2019 for their thoughts): does anyone have any advice on how to structure a 10 minute Skype teaching demo?

I don't have the topic yet, but my concerns so far are mostly structural: how should I place the camera, should I aim to write on the board, how should I be interactive with the group on the other side.

Anyone else have thoughts?


I adjunct at several institutions. One of them is hiring for a renewable lectureship (with much more $ than my adjunct position, plus benefits.) My teaching evals are very strong, I get along with my colleagues, I still maintain a research program alongside my course load, and perhaps most importantly, I live in the area, have successfully taught all the courses the new hire would be expected to teach, and have actual experience teaching the institution's students. This would seem to make me a strong candidate. Yet I was wondering if there would be some drawback to me being an adjunct at the institution-- if they can get me doing a good job for a couple thousand bucks a course, why pay me more, right? Anyone have any relevant experiences on this front?



It is obviously going to vary place to place and search committee to search committee, but I have been at two schools that have these types of renewable lectureships, a research and a teaching school. It is worth noting that often the jobs are almost as secure and nice as TT positions, with the major difference being a higher teaching load and your job not requiring research. (although at my research school you are still given a good yearly sum of conference travel money.) Anyway, in both cases I have seen adjuncts hired for these jobs. I don't think those who do the hiring (typically TT faculty) are thinking in terms of "we are already getting them on the cheap." Besides, what harm could their possibly be in applying?


Yes, I am eager to climb out of the adjunct spiral for obvious reasons having to do with finances and benefits. So I am absolutely going to apply whatever the case. I was just wondering if cases like mine "look" a certain way to a search committee.Thanks for your input, which is very encouraging!

Cleverly Disguised Mule

Can we re-open the question concerning the apparently pervasive practice of conducting a job search that ends in hiring someone in-house?

I know of at least 4 cases this year where a job was posted on PhilJobs, a search was conducted, and in the end someone was hired who was either a VAP, an adjunct, or a post-doctoral fellow at that same institution.

I don't begrudge these people; bully for them that they got those jobs. But I can't shake the feeling that this practice is really, well, icky. The job market is absolutely exhausting and humiliating, and being interviewed and possibly brought out for a visit, all while the department essentially already knows they won't hire you, seems morally questionable at best--and, in the worst cases, perhaps even borderline fraudulent.

I think many folks will say: "This is just so that the department and dean's office can do their due diligence in assuring everyone that they conducted a full search," but I'm skeptical that this is true, when so many of these people are hired anyway. And maybe it's just a stubborn HR requirement, in which case I'm wondering if departments can or should do more, perhaps in less overt ways, to signal to candidates that the department is likely to hire internally.

This is part of a broad school of thought here, which is reflected in many other comments on the Cocoon, that might be labeled the "Don't Torture These Poor Job Seekers" view.


Typically departments are not allowed to just hire an inside candidate. They are required, by HR or by law, to do a "full" search. I suspect any "signal" to job candidates about inside hires will face legal problems, or at least a small risk of them, that departments have all incentive to avoid.

Personally I think search committees should be allowed to just hire an inside candidates if this is what they want. It is a buyer's market and they should be able to make their own decisions. Alas, we don't live in my idea world.

And as I'm sure you know, CDM, lots of times the inside candidates are *not* hired for these positions, even when they thought they would be. We only notice the cases that work out. Most job candidates are desperate, and would be willing to give a job a shot even if there was some chance it might go to an inside hire, since there is always some chance another candidate will impress the search committee more.

SC member anon

I was on a search committee this year and we hired an ‘inside’ candidate. I can say, however, that the search was real. There was no guarantee until the very end that we would hire them. The committee was actually divided. The insider happened to be an excellent fit (that’s actually why they were hired as VAP in the first place; we wanted someone like them before hiring them as VAP, hoping the position would turn into a TT later), we had firsthand evidence of that, and we made the decision knowing very well that we might have ended up hiring someone else. That’s just anecdotal evidence and I’m sure there’s a fair share of fake searches around that, I agree, are borderline unethical (legal though they are). In particular, when job ads are tailored very specifically to suit a single candidate. But seeing a VAP hired on the tenure track is by itself no evidence of a fake search (not even weak evidence). I also agree with much of what Amanda said.

Two anecdotes: 1) I was not hired (not even flew out) when I once was an inside (eligible and very much liked) candidate for a job; 2) I applied to a TT job when I was on the market that was ridiculously precisely framed for a VAP in the department and that very same person was not hired. They failed the freaking search.


I'm all for hiring inside candidates. I think it's desirable, and a small mercy in an otherwise brutally impersonal and uncaring market. I don't lose any sleep over having sent in an application of my own.

european job seeker

"Amanda: It was listed as "forthcoming", when it was not yet accepted (still under review at the time we were reviewing the applicant's cv), and in fact, ended up being rejected (after our assessment of the applicant)."

Posted by: Slac Tenured Professor & Chair | 02/21/2019 at 09:51 AM

@Amanda & Slac Tenured Professor & Chair,

I am in a similar situation. I'll be having an on camus visit for a job in Europe where I know who is the only other candidate and I know that this candidate listed on their cv a not-yet accepted article as forthcoming.

I have evidence for everything (signed letter from the publishing house stating that the article was never accepted and the evidence that the other candidate actually presented that article as "accepted" - a blatant lie).

words fail me


European job seeker - I'm sorry that must be a very frustrating situation. But if I understand you correctly, you are one candidate and for some reason you know the other candidate (your competition) lied about something on their CV? If so, I see no way for you to bring this to the SC's attention without coming off in a bad light. I think you just to go there and put on your best game, hoping for the best.


European job seeker
Isn't it amazing there are such dicks out there. If you are not offered the job, and the other person is, send the stuff to the administration. Unless of course you acquired it in some illegitimate way ...

european job seeker

I obtained the information in a legitimate way. the question is: should I limit myself to informing the administration & the search committee? or should I also inform the police?
(in the country where the job is to lie in an application for a state job is a crime)


Does anyone know the rough timeline for interviews and decisions for the average VAP position? Is it safe to assume that they'd be doing first-round interviews within a month?


We've talked quite a bit over the season about the worst update and PFO notices, so I thought I'd give a shoutout to Clemson and Christopher Grau who sent this around today about their lecturer spot:

"If you are receiving this you applied for the philosophy lecturer position at Clemson. I'm just writing to let you know that we do not yet have funding secured, and we may not receive word from the upper administration for quite a while. In other words, right now we don't know if we'll ultimately get approval for any hires. (It is also possible we could end up getting approval for more than one line.) I understand how frustrating the job market is and I wanted you to know our status so you don't wonder needlessly in case you don't hear back from anyone for a while. In the meantime, if you find other employment options and want to remove your application from our pool, please just let me know."

It's nice to see people and schools occasionally wiling to be helpful and forthcoming with info, and I wish more schools took these steps.


That is a nice update: makes you wonder why things like this don't happen more often. Apparently HR did not stop him from sending that note.

Dr. Job Seeker

I had a funny experience. I was lucky enough to get a job this year (so thank you to everyone at the cocoon for being so helpful!). Shortly after accepting I received an email from a different school inviting me to interview. I thanked them, but politely declined and said that I had accepted another position. A few hours later I receive a stock rejection letter from them thanking me for my application but saying that I was "not selected for an interview." I know it was an automatic response from them removing me from their candidate pool. But it felt like the academic job search version of them saying, "You can't break up with me. I'm breaking up with you!"


Hey, at least they have automated notifications set up?

Last week I received a rejection from a school which said "Thank you for applying to the position of XYZ and taking the time to interview with us. You are to be commended for being included as one of those interviewed for this position. It is only through your interest and participation, along with other qualified candidates like you, that we are able to select individuals through such a competitive process. We need to inform you, however, that you will not be moving forward in the process."

...I did not interview at that school, and was not requested to interview.

They thankfully sent another rejection email the following day that did not include the line about interviewing, so I guess I was rejected twice. Fun stuff.


- how come after several years on the market and so many pfos every single one stings the same awful way?..

- do the people who write and send these things enjoy the torment they are in the position to inflict on their fellow philosophers?..

- do they light a nice cigar or have a fancy expensive latte every time they send out a cold, form pfo to hundreds of real people?..

Sometimes I feel like the answer to the last two questions is Yes!

I just want to ask my fellow rejectees if they feel the same way. I will not read any replies from anyone on a search committee...


Nah, they don't nettle me at all. Unless they're unusual in some way, like the ones that say "I just wanted to write to you in person to say..." but start with "Dear Applicant".

I do wish they'd all tell us the number of applicants, though. That's what I really want to know.

Simone Collins

I'm frankly not sure where to post about this, but it seems relevant to the topic being discussed.

If any of you are interested in starting a company rather than continuing in academia, I recently launched a grant to help with that. To be perfectly honest, it’s more of a pilot grant for one person, but it's better than nothing and I hope to expand it if the first candidate works out.

The program is meant to be open to both people mastering out and those that recently completed their program. However, I have no idea who to get in front of people. Any ideas?

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