Rejecting candidates

I’m currently screening candidates for a fixed-term position and thought I would share some views “from the other side”, so to speak.

It’s not an easy task, especially if you do your best to provide a fair and equitable selection. One thing that really struck me this time was how strongly the advert resonated in some disciplines and not in others. The advert was for a “Post-Doctoral Researcher”, with a clear preference for “economics; sociology, or political sciences”. That’s simply because for this particular position — in a specific project — that’s the skills we need; and it worked, we have received mostly applications demonstrating excellent quantitative skills. Another generic observation concerns LinkedIn. It’s the first time I’ve also advertised on LinkedIn, and this enticed a fair number of applicants to press the “apply” button, even though the advert asked for applications by e-mail. One thing I noticed compared to the applications by e-mail is that the share of speculative applications was noticeably larger: applications without any reasonable fit. Some of them obviously clicked through the screening questions, because the CV did not always back up the skills. On the other hand, LinkedIn also makes it almost too easy to reject applicants.

The hardest cases are always those truly excellent candidates that just don’t match, but impress otherwise. Let’s be clear here, there are positions that are open, where you set your own research agenda, and there are jobs in projects where the general direction and research design are given.

Reasons we rejected you

Here’s a list of reasons why we have not continued with your application into the second round (in no particular order):

  • very poor English in the cover letter; I know not everyone has had the same opportunities to learn English, grew up with a similar native language or was given the necessary resources, but if your cover letter fails to demonstrate good language skills, we cannot count on your writing those articles in English
  • you did not demonstrate any of the skills we asked for; these are the skills you need to carry out the job, so a motivation to learn advanced quantitative methods is not going to be sufficient, certainly not when you’re up against more than 100 other candidates
  • you really want to work on a (widely) different topic; in this case, it’s a job for a specific project, so no matter how great your “project” is, it’s not useful. I know you need a job, but when you tell us that you really want to work on a different topic, you’re not going to be happy in this job.
  • your best quantitative skills are QCA or Atlas.ti (I’m not making this up!), or you’ve done economic theory up to now
  • you provided a list of keywords from my webpage, but there is no coherent statement. Yes, you got my attention for 1/4 of a second, but not more than that
  • your e-mail bounces when I sent the acknowledgement mail. OK, technically you have not been rejected, but how should we communicate?

Some bad signals we ignored

Let’s be clear here, with over 100 applications, we could be very picky and work only with the applications that immediately impress us. But we also know that we might have missed something in the first round. Here are some things you might want to avoid next time:

  • you’re not following the instructions (i.e. send a single PDF by e-mail in this case, like sending 7 PDF and Word documents, or sending me an updated CV twice); this doesn’t really signal attention to detail
  • your PDF application is poorly organized, like putting the job market paper first, not the cover letter (sure, we love scrolling through documents… .~)
  • your personal website doesn’t work — when did you update it last time?
  • you use a script font for the cover letter — it’s just very hard to read, OK?
  • you can’t spell STSTA [sic.]

Stuff we appreciated in the first round

It’s not magic really, but there are things you did do to aid the screening process, thank you:

  • you have the skills asked for, and you clearly show this
  • you demonstrate in the cover letter that you have read the advert beyond the word “postdoctoral researcher”, like mentioning how your previous work relates to the project we advertised. I know you’re probably writing many applications, but it does make a difference for jobs with clear requirements.
  • that one applicant using Julia
  • your material and especially your CV is nicely organized
  • your cover letter is short and relevant; it’s not just your CV in prose, and probably you don’t want to lead with your teaching statement when applying for a pure research position.

Now on to the second round …

Hiring: Postdoctoral Researcher

We have an open position for a

Post-Doctoral Researcher (30 months, 80% FTE)

The start date will be 1 September 2021 or as agreed. The successful applicant is expected to contribute to a research project on the long-term impact of refugee shocks on the labour market, health, reproductive behaviour, well-being, and attitudinal outcomes of the resident population (quasi-experimental setup).

Requirements: You have completed a doctorate in one of the social sciences (preferably economics; sociology, or political sciences). Excellent knowledge of quantitative methods is required (preferably Stata or R). The project uses register data, as well as data from the Labour Force Survey, the Swiss Health Survey, post-election surveys, and results from selected referendums and popular initiatives. You are open to collaborate in an inter-disciplinary team. Experience in the analysis of register data, matching datasets, experimental methods and a keen interest in immigration, health, or labour market outcomes are an asset. Excellent written and oral command of English is required; knowledge of French or German is an asset.

You will be attached to the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies at the University of Neuchâtel (http://www.unine.ch/sfm/) and will join a team in economics, sociology, and demography. An affiliation to the national centre of excellence NCCR on the move (https://nccr-onthemove.ch/) is possible and will open up exchange with other postdocs and researchers across the country.

Benefits: The salary is in accordance with the university guidelines (https://www.unine.ch/srh/post-doctorant-e-s-fns). There is a budget for conference participation, and we will support you develop your own research agenda.

Employer: The position is based at the University of Neuchâtel. The University of Neuchâtel is an equal opportunities employer. Qualified women and candidates with a migration history are encouraged to apply.

Submitting application: Applications (letter of intent, CV, names of two referees, a relevant research paper as a writing sample) should be submitted as a single PDF to didier.ruedin@unine.ch (also for queries). The position is open until filled; for full consideration, apply by 15 June 2021.

NCCR Postdoc opportunity in Geneva

Postdoctoral Position in Sociology 60%

The nccr – on the move and the HETS School of Social Work of Geneva are seeking applicants for a Postdoctoral Position in Sociology to carry out research and contribute to research projects in the area of post-retirement international mobilities, transnational lifestyles, and care configurations. Applications should be submitted before the 10th of June 2020.

Mixed methods, Stata or similar

Deadline: 10 June (!) 2020

Further Information

PhD Opportunity at Nijmegen — ethnic inequalities and discrimination in the labor market

A colleague is offering this excellent PhD opportunity at Nijmegen:

The project is on ‘The sources and consequences of beliefs about ethnic inequalities and discrimination in the labor market’. The PhD candidate will join the Department of Sociology at Radboud University Nijmegen and the ICS graduate school.

They are looking for excellent candidates who gradua­ted or will graduate soon in Sociology, Economics, Psychology, Public Administration, Management or related disciplines. Those with strong interests in ethnic labor market inequalities, discrimination, workplace diversity or inclusion policies as well as a strong background in quantitative research methods and interest in collecting data using survey experimental approaches are particularly encouraged to apply.

More information about the project, the ICS graduate school and the application procedure can be found on the ICS website http://ics-graduateschool.nl/vacancies/. More on our department and on the research school within Radboud University of which we are part can be found here www.ru.nl/sociology/ and here www.ru.nl/rscr.

Join us at the NCCR on the move and the SFM in Neuchâtel! — Postdoctoral Researcher (70%)

Postdoctoral Researcher (70%) at the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) on the move and Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies at the University of Neuchâtel

Deadline: 15 December 2019.

Work as part of its project entitled ‘Migration, Mobility and the Democratic Welfare State’ to examine, in a historical and comparative perspective, how European welfare states have adapted to the twin challenges of international migration and mobility, from the redistributive ‘Golden Age’ in the 1970s to the present.

You will produce high quality original research and collaborate with other senior and PhD researchers already involved in the project. You may be given the opportunity to teach.

Suitable candidates should hold a PhD in History. Applications from persons with a PhD in Sociology, Political Science, or Political Theory and with an interest in historical analysis will also be considered.

Priority will be given to applicants with a proven track record of research experience in one or several of the following sub-fields: Migration; Social Policy; Comparative Politics; Welfare.

Starting date: 1 February 2020

Duration: Until May 2022 (26 months)

Full details here: https://nccr-onthemove.ch/wp_live14/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/IP22_Unine_PostDoc_final.pdf