Academic job search tales of the uncanny

I’m on sabbatical, but I agreed (in a moment of weakness) to do a task with a job search. I have to read through the files (though not much else) in order to be sure the committee is doing a fair and equitable job. 87 folders (luckily they aren’t actually all complete, so I can skip incomplete ones).

So I was reading along through the middle of the alphabet yesterday. One candidate’s name began Mil- and the next folder was an Ras-. I assumed one of the other folks had put a block of folders back into the drawer carelessly, so I stepped over in the office to find the rest of the M candidates. Turns out there were no candidates with a last name beginning with N, O, P, or Q.

Weird.

(Oh, once again – if you’re a grad student who has completed the Ph.D. your advisor, at least, ought to want you to get a job badly enough to personalize the letters of recommendation. “To whom it may concern” letters that stress the likelihood that you yourself will be an excellent advisor of graduate students don’t do you much good at small liberal arts colleges. I understand that your fourth reader may not be much invested in your career – but your advisor?)

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