I am applying for faculty jobs. As you all know, it is a stressful and frustrating experience. Many institutions explicitly state that they will not contact candidates who were not selected for an interview. It is like feeling my way around in the dark: I do not know if I was already rejected, I can only suspect it. If I was rejected, I can never be certain about why this happened, and whether it is because of a reason that I have any control over. Is my application simply weak, and if yes, can it be improved at all? Did they have a particular profile in mind even if they did not state it? Did they already have a preferred candidate? Am I too old, in real or academic years (it matters, regardless of what they say)? Am I being disadvantaged by not having networked enough (which does not come to me naturally)?
I have not yet managed to secure any interviews. I am losing hope that I will ever succeed. I have no doubt that this is what I want to do, and I think that I am capable of doing it, but I find it more and more difficult to believe that it will work out for me. This causes a psychological block that makes it difficult to keep going, to keep rewriting applications, to keep working over weekends to get papers out in time to include in applications, etc. Don't get me wrong, I am not consciously giving up, but again and again I find myself having spent a day in front of the computer trying to work but not making much progress. This should not happen, it's been a while since I was a student. Yet writer's block and unintentional procrastination are worse than ever. By the end of the day I loathe my documents and find it hard to trust that they are any good, and just can't make yet another revision. What makes the application experience stressful is that I do not have a very solid basis to judge how realistic my chances are. My supervisor is generally encouraging, but that is not sufficient at this point.
To make this question concrete: I am certain that my problem is far from unique. How have you dealt with this, and how did you manage to keep positive and keep pushing forward? How do you decide in a non-emotional way when it's time to stop and give up?
I sometimes wonder if the fact that I am affected so badly by the situation, up to some psychosomatic symptoms, is a sign that I am simply not suited for a career in academia. One must have better resilience to stress and a better fighting spirit. A professor is responsible not only for themselves, but also for their students, and must support their students and postdocs through similar crises. If I cannot manage myself, how could I support others? This thought does not help at all.