I recently came across Aidan Horner’s CV of failures, following a tweet by Dorothy Bishop. I’d seen other examples, but nothing I could relate to as much as his – and I thought it was the most encouraging thing I’d seen in years. Progression in Academia is not easy – not even for successful people! I wish I had seen that in my toughest year, 2015 (more on that below). So I hope, this will cheer up at least someone, somewhere out on the jobmarked. Just one last note to put you into my mindset during that period – I had a choice between 3 funded PhD positions and before I’d finished my PhD, offers on 2 post-doc jobs. Tough awakening at the end of that postdoc!
Rejected after interview: post-doc positions
March 2015, Oxford University, Department of Experimental Psychology
May 2015, Oxford University, Nuffield
May 2015, Cambridge University, Department of Psychology
Rejected after interview: lecturer positions
February 2015, Birmingham University, School of Psychology
March 2015, Heriot-Watt University, School of Psychology
November 2015, Winchester University, Department of Psychology
December 2015, Durham University, Department of Psychology
Rejected without interview: lecturer positions
March/April (?)2015 Roehampton University
November (?) 2015 King’s College London
2016 British Academy Small Research Grant
No fun. You could easily believe, I’m probably a terrible person in interview situations. Maybe a terrible person, fullstop. I thought it would be good to know, so I went back to some of the people who didn’t give me a job, and spoke with people who interviewed me and offered me a job/wanted to offer me a job. Reasons I’ve heard for not getting lecturer positions were: “great research, too little teaching” / “teaching the wrong thing” / “research too close to what rencent recruits are doing” / “research doesn’t fit political strategy of the department”. I think they’re all very good reasons. (Better than being a terrible person, anyway, though that may still be the case.)
Reasons for not getting a post-doc ranged from the obvious “we had a better candidate”, to “you’re too senior, you should apply for Fellowships”.
Some of my applications were clearly a bit silly (with regard to my fit). For example, in one instance it could have been as obvious to me as it was to the respective department that I’m not doing applied research.
I have a nice job and two small start-up grants now. And I’m collaborating with fantastic people I met on my tour through the country.