I was curious if people thought it appropriate/inappropriate to approach faculty at a conference to ask about the status of a job posting at their institution. This would be to get information, and at the very least to put a face to a name. And even if it was appropriate, is there any utility to doing this?
Date: 15 Jan 2012 21:25
Number of posts: 11
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I'm curious about this as well but I was mostly curious in terms of postdocs.
I think it is inappropriate. The person you ask at the conference probably either has no idea what is going on or may not be able to discuss it if they are on the search committee which could make the situation awkward. If you are interested in the status of a search, contact the person you sent your application to via email.
If you are looking for someone to do a postdoc with specifically or are interested in writing a grant to do a postdoc with them, I think the situation is different. I think you could introduce yourself and say that you were interested in working with them and then can have a conversation. It is more personal than just asking about the status of an application which just makes you look desperate.
I also was curious about this. My poster slot changed, and I wanted to e-mail and update the few schools that I applied to about this, in case they wanted to stop by. Also inappropriate?
i had an experience earlier this year that speaks to this issue. i had applied for a position and i made it a point to meet a member of the faculty there who i thought to be a likely candidate for the SC based on the job description. i talked to him in several places and he came to my posters, etc. i felt like we had some good conversations about research, but i never asked about the job. didnt get an interview and while i doubt that is solely the reason why. in retrospect, i wish that i had at least mentioned that I had seen the posting and that i was considering applying (not that it would have nec mattered, but it could have upped the chances).
i don't think that grilling the faculty about the needs of the dept is appropriate, but an acknowledgement that you like their dept and would consider working there, at the very least, is a compliment to them. at best, you have someone that recognizes your application amongst the pile of 130+ apps
in other words, done carefully, it cant hurt. dont hand a vita and research statement to the person, but showing that there are complementary interests are important (assuming that there are)
the above was at a conference, in case not automatically inferred ;)
I think there is an appropriate way to do this. I did this at a conference and it resulted in a campus invite and offer later so I don't think it's a major faux pas. Everyone at these things wears name tags. Why not try a subtle approach. Notice the name of the school on the name tag and say something like "oh! I see you're from XXXX University! I've heard great things about your program! In fact I just applied to the open position there! Nice to meet you!" You're expected to network at conferences. MANY of my friends have had similar experiences where talking to someone at a conference resulted in positive consequences. I've never met anyone for whom this backfired. Although I'm sure if you were obnoxious or pushy about it, it might be annoying for the person. Just be conversational and normal! :)
"i don't think that grilling the faculty about the needs of the dept is appropriate, but an acknowledgement that you like their dept and would consider working there, at the very least, is a compliment to them. at best, you have someone that recognizes your application amongst the pile of 130+ apps"
I think better articulates my initial question about approaching a faculty member who is likely on the committee. thanks for the advice everyone!
I did want to bring up the point that it might really matter where they are in their search. I had great luck at a conference in October chatting with people about positions whose deadlines hadn't even arrived yet (that is probably the best time to talk with people) but our big social psych conference is in a couple of weeks and it's definitely too late in the game to really be talking to people about jobs in their department for the first time or asking about where they are in their progress. Late in the game, those kinds of requests need to be made to people via E-mail.
Another approach is to introduce yourself, say that you're an applicant for the X position, and that you wanted to introduce yourself to put a face with the name.
I used this approach with a search chair at a conference back in November. She asked a little about my background, then suggested that we find a time to talk. We met for about 20 minutes to talk about the position, research interests, etc. Note that this occurred only 1 week after the application deadline, so the chair had not even begun to look at applications yet. The introduction may lead to a meeting, or the chair/faculty member may just take an extra minute with your application when they return from the conference. In this economic climate, and with the ridiculous number of applicants, every little bit helps.
Prior to this experience, I was uncomfortable with approaching faculty with an agenda, but the chair seemed genuinely pleased to talk with me. I think it is important to mention you are a candidate, but not to press on for additional information.
Good luck! It is not nearly as scary as it may seem beforehand.