I keep thinking there might be something wrong with my research and/or teaching statements because my applications are unsuccessful. If faculty can give critical feedback before I apply, that can help me feel less of a sense that I fell into a hidden trap that is causing my application to not win the application game.

For more clarification, I have started to think of academia as being a giant mine. There are hidden traps and bombs all over the place. Some people are told by experienced people where the bombs are. They get a leg up and are playing on easy mode. Some are playing the game (the end game of which is to get tenure) on the hardest difficulty level, where they are given no hints.

Thus, I got an email about a panel where grad students can learn the "secrets" to a successful job application. The secrets are to know how to avoid the hidden traps.

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    Of course you can, why not show it to your PhD/postdoc advisor?
    – Ben10
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 17:20
  • Well I did. But he is more familiar with me. I want feedback from someone who is unfamiliar with my work, because that will be most people on the committee.
    – cgb5436
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 17:22
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    When you say "other faculty" do you mean at the institution where you're applying, or in a broad sense?
    – user137975
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 17:35
  • @AnonymousM - no, I was thinking about faculty I know. Like, the people writing recommendation letters for me
    – cgb5436
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 18:03
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    The truth is that there are significantly more total applicants than total jobs. A significant fraction of people on the job market will never get a job simply by the Pigeonhole Principle. Many of the people who do not get a job are not doing anything wrong. Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


It is common practice to ask people for feed-back on these types of documents. There are even institutions where any official letter is supposed to be proof-read by another person just to avoid grammar and spelling mistakes. So much more reason to subject something as difficult to write as teaching and research statements to helpful criticism.

The institutions to which you apply cannot give you this feedback. Interacting with a rejected applicant will open them up to potential legal problems or invite discussions that are pointless because hiring decisions cannot be revisited. The same goes for people working there as there answering could be construed as acting in an official capacity.

The more familiar people are with the processes of academia, the more their feedback is useful. The more familiar they are with you, the more their feedback is useful, because you might be unconsciously misrepresenting yourself.

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