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Fit not fitness

I suppose it depends on how much time you have to spare. In my limited search experience (around 3 searches in the last few years), and longer experience on the market, you’re unlikely to get an interview much less an offer if you don’t fit the description or the (much harder to gauge) internal hopes and aspirations of the department. I’ve gotten interviews for prestigious places with little tailoring of my materials, and I’ve been completely ghosted by institutions where I thought I was a perfect fit and knew a fair number of people and spent hours prepping my materials to match. Fwiw all the places I interviewed and in those few cases where I got an offer, it was evident that they were looking for the strange cross-cutting AOS blend that I and few others work in. Where does that leave us? I tend to agree that it’s worth a shot, but it’s unlikely worth spending much emotional energy (much less bringing your partner’s hopes in to it) on any of the possibilities until you get the on-campus invite.


I'm also in the "go for it camp".


My experience is purely anecdotal but it may be helpful. When I applied for the job I now have, the ad listed an AOS that was one of my AOCs. I figured it was a long shot, but I applied because the job was in a desirable location (the region of the country where I grew up and did my undergrad). In the Zoom interview, my connection to the region came up organically, and I was later told that it factored into the committee's hiring decision. I also learned that the "AOS" was more of an AOC, as the position was teaching-heavy and the committee was looking to cover multiple sections of a specific course. So I was a better fit for the job than the ad initially led me to believe.

All that to say, I think there is enough ambiguity in the process to justify going for it, as long as you have the bandwidth to put together the application. I agree with Fit not fitness that you shouldn't invest emotional energy early in the process. "Submit then forget" was my strategy both times I was on the market.


I have been on three committees in the last seven years. In each case there are candidates who really match the job description, and it's just not likely that we're going to go out of our way to look at you with that fact in mind. We have specific teaching and research needs and we are trying to fill them. At my school we really need certain courses taught and taught well because this is what helps our majors . So if you're not close on the ad description there's not much point in applying in my view.

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