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The major at my school was cut and I am first to go in the department.

What do I do different when applying for new AP (in US) now compared to when I was coming off a post doc?

Do I address the reasons for being let go in my cover letter? What other tips are there for coming up with a good application under my unfortunate circumstances.

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  • By "cut", do you mean "laid off"? – GoodDeeds Dec 15 '20 at 18:40
  • @GoodDeeds yes. major cut, so I am now expendable – BeauGeste Dec 15 '20 at 18:44
  • This does not answer the question, but: Carefully consider a non-academic job. US universities have laid off 500,000 people and they are not finished. Owing to low birth rates, recovery might take decades. – Anonymous Physicist Dec 15 '20 at 23:29
  • yes, I realize that I may need to consider non-academia. I want to test waters this round to see how competitive I am right now in academia. – BeauGeste Dec 16 '20 at 1:29
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You are being let go for a reason that apparently has nothing whatsoever to do with your individual performance; your program was cut, and you as the (most?) junior person, are being let go first. That should not be interpreted as a reflection on you personally, or the quality of your work. Everyone in academia knows that things can be unusually difficult right now, and people are losing jobs that would have been totally secure under normal conditions. Of course, you will need to explain why your position has gone away in your application package, and your recommenders can explain it was well.

Actually, the kind of recommenders you have available in this situation could potentially give you a significant advantage, relative to other applicants for the same positions. You already have experience working as a full-time (possibly tenure-track) faculty member, and you should get a senior person in your department (the department chair being the most natural choice) to write a letter on your behalf that talks not just about the quality of your research, but also addresses your capability as a teacher in a full-time faculty position and your service work. A chair's detailed recommendation that says that they are extremely unhappy about losing you, due to budgeting changes completely beyond your control, could be very compelling to hiring committees.

All this being said, given the current economic situation, you are probably going to be in for a rough ride. In fields where whole majors are being cut, there are likely to be few new jobs opening up, so competition is likely to be extremely fierce, even for people who already have faculty experience.

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I think it's important that either you, or a reference letter writer (if they are accepted in the first round) provide some context about why you're leaving your previous university. This is especially important for a move to either a "lower-ranked" or peer institution, where assessors might wonder if there's a back story here.

I wouldn't dwell on it, and you want to stay positive – it's an opportunity to bring your expertise that you've developed at your current institution to bring to this new one.

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    A search committee that does not know about wide-spread layoffs in 2020 would be unusual. – Anonymous Physicist Dec 15 '20 at 23:31

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