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elisa freschi

I am afraid that the solution is easy: They received many applications (who has not?) and excluding the incomplete ones (also on the ground that 'sloppiness' is an academic flaw) was an easy way to get rid of at least some. I once heard someone (in a different context) say "We are fishing for pretexts [to exclude some]". I am not saying this is fair, but I am afraid it might be what has happened.


The university I work at has the HR department handle incoming applications. Consequently, NO ONE in our department would ever hear of an application that was incomplete. Further, I once had someone contact me about the possibility of completing the application just one day late - HR blocked it. So do not expect departments to be checking up on applications. Indeed, it is unrealistic, if there are 100+ applications.


Our HR office has an auto-message that goes out to applicants near our "start reviewing by" deadline, stating whether their applications are complete or not, and if not, what specifically is missing. However, this does presuppose that contact info has been provided. If this applicant was working with an off-line application process, an HR notification might not have been possible. Then it would be down to the committee to look them up, which is not a good way to introduce oneself as a potential colleague. The cv is the first and most important selection tool.

SC member

The OP writes: "I get that is not the responsibility of a search committee with so many applicants". And then they ask: "Thoughts on whether a search committee has any kind of obligation to try and inform applicants of incompleteness in their app and does that fall entirely on the applicant?" The OP has their answer in the first part quoted above.

The only scenario in which I might do the supererogatory thing and chase them down is when the basis is not altruistic but self-interested: I like their application, incomplete as it is, and I want to keep them in the running. But since the CV is the most efficient way to tell whether I want to keep them in the running, I'm not going to chase someone down who didn't include their CV.

Search committee member

These answers are weird to me. We had a candidate who failed to include a CV. We googled them and downloaded their CV from their website. We had candidates who were in the running who failed to include teaching evaluations. We emailed them asking to send along the teaching evaluations (although we would not have emailed them if a quick glance at the CV indicated that they weren’t a strong contender). This seems like part of one’s obligation to the department—to not exclude otherwise excellent candidates because of a technical error.


OP Here: search committee members' response is encouraging and I appreciate that,.
The rest of you--not so much.

Also context: this was unique in that this application involved no HR site. The application process was to email all materials to the search committee chair--so the search committee chair was well aware the application lacked a CV.

I think a bit of grace could be used here on the part of search committees given that, in all likelihood, forgetting to submit a CV is not indicative that the candidate is lazy but more likely than not, they simply forgot and using 'incomplete applications' as some kind of weed out mechanism seems odd to me.

Anon search committee member

Honestly, i our current search, we have 40-50 applicants that are worth interviewing. Given this, I really have no incentive to chase down the material from an incomplete application. There are too many good applicants, and I am already overburdened with administrative responsibilities, grading papers and exams, and finishing off those papers that I promised I'd have to editors two months ago. I agree that it sucks for OP, but that doesn't change my incentive structure.


In my experience, there are normally so many candidates that are strong. The first pass is getting ride of candidates. An incomplete application is an easy call to rule out an application.


Sorry--if the process was to email your materials to the chair, how did they not have your email address?

(FWIW I am afraid that no one has an obligation to find you and ask you for a CV, even while granting that it sucks that this happened to you. But I also think--if they thought you were a super viable candidate, they probably would have bothered to google. So I don't think you should be too concerned here; I think if someone really stood out to a search committee, they would be contacted, and at least for jobs in common/big AOS's, you need to really stand out to a search committee on a first pass to have a chance...)

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