"Stunned" Job Applicants

Today’s quote comes from the 2012-2013 Academic Jobs Wiki for Religious Studies.  For those of you unfamiliar, a jobs wiki is a site for tracking searches in various categories for academic faculty positions.  The original job ad is posted and then people who applied for the job add comments about the process of the search. 

I couldn’t help but laugh when I read some of the comments about a job in the “History of Christian Thought” at Trinity College in Hartford, CT.  Here is a taste:

  • Stunned that I did not get called for an interview. (x4)
  • If you’re stunned, you must be new to the job market. It’s not equitable, it’s not objective, and it’s not predictable. Rather, it’s capricious, driven by politics and institutional factors beyond your control. Nothing in the job market will surprise you once you realize that fact. Also, you’re up against 170 applicants. Do you really think you stand out so clearly against, say 30 stellar applicants? It’s time to temper expectations: the market’s flooded with talent. Expect nothing.
  • Surprised as well. It would be helpful to know the specializations of those interviewed.(x2)
  • And I was surprised that I was called for an interview: selecting 10-15 to interview out of 170 seems a daunting task, however you cut it. My own specialization is historically very broad (though with an ancient focus) but constructive in method.
  • I think a lot of people were stunned. I think part of it is that this job ad was designed so vaguely that everyone was able to read themselves into it. I think people actually trained to teach “American religious history” have the most cause to be stunned. That criterion in particular made this ad very weird. It seems that they didn’t really know what they wanted. (agreed!)
  • Yep … It seems to me that they may have advertised for a generalist but wound up with something more specialized in mind, at least by the time they were evaluating apps. If it’s American church history or patristics, I can understand my not making the cut.
  • I believe there was an implicit emphasis on be able to teach. Although vague in description a further read of the school shows that all the faculty members teach a variation of this course (sounds like its a required course that every faculty member needs to be able to jump into teach) 

First of all, no one should be “stunned” that they were not called for an interview.  The person who wrote the second comment is absolutely correct about the job market.

Second, I found it interesting that the last commentator above seemed surprised that the job called for an “implicit emphasis on be(ing) able to teach.

Draw your own conclusions.