Our correspondent is a post-doc embarking on the faculty job search and is wondering about reaching out directly to faculty in departments he is applying to:
I’ve been advised to identify someone in each department and write a short, friendly email to put my application on their radar. In some cases this is easy for me to do, when I know someone who I know knows me and we do similar work, so it is not too awkward.
But what about the cold-call cases? Do you get such emails from applicants? Do you think they are annoying idiots?
Here are a few thoughts about this:
(1) If you know someone personally, there is nothing wrong with e-mailing them, although it is likely to have little effect, since they already know you.
(2) Receiving an e-mail from a faculty job applicant whom I have never met or heard of concerning our department’s job search would not annoy me, per se, but it certainly wouldn’t serve any purpose whatsoever vis a vis “getting on the radar”.
(3) There is a much more important point that isn’t even touched on in the correspondent’s question: Your fucken *mentors* are the ones who should be working the phones and e-mails of their colleagues in the departments you are applying to. This is the only thing that can really move the needle; communication from the applicants themselves outside the metes and bounds of their applications is meaningless. We already know *you* want a fucken job, and your zeal means nothing. However, the extent to which other people–mentors and other colleagues–are willing to expend the time and effort to call or e-mail has some meaning.