I'm applying to 35+ individual universities (some of which have multiple postings). This feels a bit excessive to me but I'm growing weary of the post-doc pay and I'm quasi desperate to get out this cycle. I was wondering if there were any available statistics regarding the relationship between the number of applications an individual puts out and their chances of landing a position. As a clinical PhD I know that there is a relationship for clinical internships where each new application >~10 adds little to your chances and I'm curiously if the same holds for TT faculty positions.
Date: 19 Sep 2011 19:36
Number of posts: 4
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If we think about this in terms of simple probabilities, assuming each job search is independent* then yes of course your chances of landing a job would increase for each application submitted.
*Individual schools' decisions are not likely to depend on the decisions of other schools at the interview stage. I suppose that would not necessarily be the case when it comes to offers.
Probabilities aside, the more applications you submit the more likely you are to find a school with a good fit. That said, I would only apply to schools you *would* consider going to if you got the job.
I would think you'd see a rate of diminishing returns only because there are only so many openings that will be a really good fit for your qualifications. If you're applying to >35 places, you're probably stretching on at least some of them. Also, applying to a large number limits the time you can spend targeting your application to each place. That said, to some extent it's a numbers game so probably your odds do go up with each application, they probably just don't go up as much as they would if you're comparing, say, 1 application to 5 or to 10.
I wonder if "too many" is subfield specific? I'm in social psychology and I already have a list of about 55 jobs, and have been told by my advisors that I will probably apply for 70-80 when all is said and done. This includes social psych, open area, and a *few* cognitive jobs. But a friend of mine in clinical was on the market last year and only applied for 15 jobs (and landed a TT job).
Ultimately, the best advice I have received is "you can't turn down a job you don't have." So if you're even slightly interested and somewhat qualified then just apply, and don't worry about sending out "too many" applications.
All the best to you in this crazy process! :)