Reading tea leaves
What? Has the UM gone in for tasseography? No, but that’s about the level of reliable information available in the job market.
Last fall I applied at 85 schools for something like 130 different jobs overall. Of course, each one only has a handful of possible slots, so the whole thing’s a long series of shots in the dark.
Here’s how the application procedure works. You see an ad for a job. You write up a letter of application and assemble the materials the school wants. You send them in, either over the internet or through the mail, and wait.
And you wait.
And you wait.
And there’s really nothing to do and almost no information comes back down the pipe unless it’s a confirmation that your materials were received or an early no.
So yesterday I was surprised to get an email from one place I applied. Their application deadline was the 8th, so this is two weeks along — a bit late for just confirming that they got my stuff. It didn’t say the words “short list” though, which would explicitly indicate passing the first cut, and it didn’t try to set up a job talk (tenure-track jobs, like this one, usually have you come out to the school to give a talk and interview with various people), so i have no idea what it means. Basically all I have to go on is a phrase I’ve heard other applicants mention last year: “Are you still interested in the position?”
I’ve asked around the department and signals are mixed. Does this indicate a shortlisting? Does the two-week delay? Ask two mathematicians and you’ll get three answers.
I’m left feeling like there’s a whole sub rosa protocol in place that somehow I’ve missed hearing about.