There is a national meeting in our field in November. I am curious if I should try to approach people in the departments that I have applied to and what would be the best way to do this. Does anyone have experience with this or know the right or wrong way to do this?
Date: 09 Oct 2013 21:12
Number of posts: 4
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I think that it is good to meet with people, especially if you have some connection via one or two degrees of separation. When you don't have that, it is probably a mixed bag of response. as long as you are polite and show enthusiasm for the position, it can't hurt to say hi. I personally wouldn't grill someone I didn't know, especially a senior person on particulars of position, dept. politics, etc. Typically, I think that people would be happy to hear that someone is enthused about joining their dept. Even if you don't get the job or an interview, networking is so important in this field. Bottom line:it can't hurt, as long as you don't sell yourself too hard.
I agree that it is good to meet people at conferences. When I was on the job market a couple of years ago, I approached faculty from universities where I was applying. I would introduce myself, and then say that I was applying for their position in X, so I just wanted to put a face with the name. It worked out well for me - I had a quick chat and then an informal meeting later on with the chair of the search.
As a member of a search committee, I would be happy to meet candidates. Most search committee members are invested in getting the right person for the job, especially since they could be colleagues for decades. I think the key is to not be too pushy and pay attention to cues about whether the person wants to continue the conversation. Be prepared with your "elevator talk" - an overview of your research and why you think the job would be a good fit - but don't launch into your schpeal unless asked. I also think it doesn't hurt to express your enthusiasm for the job - we want candidates to be excited about our school. So, be prepared and be sensitive to social cues.