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One year ago I withdrew from one job application. I met the committee, the interview lasted nearly 2 hours, they showed me the institution, I had lunch with one of the senior team member. Then I suddenly withdrew before results were announced. The job was in a different country and I haven't got an opportunity to meet anybody again. After some time I see that it was a mistake.

Is it a good idea to send them an email that I regard my actions as a mistake or as unprofessional? Let say to the senior member with whom I had lunch, or to the head of the project.

I have a feeling that I have made a mistake and it was maybe too harsh to withdraw. Maybe in the future they will seek another sort of collaboration or there will be another job available at the institution.

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    What do you want to achieve? – henning Mar 19 at 9:07
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    By "I've made a mistake" do you mean "I want a job", or something else? Please edit your question and title to make this clear. – David Ketcheson Mar 19 at 9:12
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    If you just want to stay in amicable terms, and you work in similar fields, then it's very likely that you'll meet in future at a conference somewhere, so you can start the conversation in person more naturally than with a cold e-mail. – Federico Poloni Mar 19 at 10:24
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Dropping out of a search isn't really unprofessional (unless you told them to go to hell I guess - but then it will be way too late to apologize). In that light, and under the assumption that you just dropped out suddenly and politely (as most people do), mailing them is not so much unprofessional as much as it is pointless. As Henning says in a comment: "What are you trying to achieve?"

  • Get a job with them? Way too late for this - the previous position is either filled or allocated differently. If a new position opens up, you can always apply again.
  • Apologize? No need for that - people drop out of a job search for all kinds of reasons all the time. They have almost certainly moved on, and so should you.
  • Just let them know that you now regret your decision? Why would they need to know this, or even care?
  • Start a collaboration? "Hey, I dropped out of your search a while ago" is hardly the best ice breaker.

We all make mistakes. It's best to learn to let things go.

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I don't see any strong reasons not to do this, but I would turn it around a bit. Rather than emphasizing the apology over the "seeking collaboration", you might consider doing the opposite. If it makes sense to seek some collaboration with them, then you could do that, and then, maybe later, mention that you made a mistake in withdrawing.

I don't know why you use the word "harsh", however. If the words of your withdrawal could be interpreted as insulting in any way then the situation is different and requires a different, fence mending, approach. But otherwise, withdrawal is really just a normal thing, especially if the job was in a different country.

  • well, my withdrawal was someting like "I see the importance of the project and its goals but I am not interested". – user3624251 Mar 19 at 10:16
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    @user3624251 That's not harsh. I am not interested in a lot of important things. No sensible person will hold this against you. (granted, one typically phrases it a bit more indirectly, but whatever) – xLeitix Mar 19 at 10:18
  • @user3624251 Well, scientific projects are like pets. Some pet owners are tolerant for people not liking their pets, others are more partial. Unless you know which one is the case, choose your responses accordingly. – Captain Emacs Mar 19 at 12:15

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