There are many questions here on applying for the same position again, but my situation is a bit interesting.

I applied for a Lecturer position in the UK half a year ago, and I was not even shortlisted (or "longlisted"). Now a call virtually the same as before has been announced.

I am thinking of re-applying following the general advice here (in addition to me being desperate and having had a publication in the top venue). The advertisement encourages the applicants to informally write to existing faculty (one from each subdiscipline). Last time, the idea was that each representative of the subdiscipline would select an applicant (or more?) before they are brought to the department-wide committee.

Now I feel extremely awkward about writing to the contact of my area, the same person as before. I was not deemed even good enough last time, and I do not want to appear that I waste his time. At the same time, I might want to solicit his help in improving my application.

How should I contact this person?


3 Answers 3


First, the previous posting is irrelevant. You applied with your then-CV, and were not even interviewed. Without inside information on the process you can only speculate on why, and such speculation is where your self-doubt is coming in. Perhaps they wanted an expert in X, and you are seen as being an expert in Y. If they hired an expert in X, well, they are no longer looking for an expert in X, so the reason for not being interviewed last time no longer applies. If they hired nobody, those that made the short list came up short (you don't know why, speculating is fruitless). This is a new search.

Second, if the posting says you should contact a range of people in the department, well, their people will be expecting to be contacted. So contact them about the position. Quite likely they will be open about areas of expertise they are looking for in this search. Perhaps they will remember your application from before, but again this is a new search with new goals. If your main contact from before does remember you, then it would be reasonable to ask if you fall in their main search area or not.

Either way, you should apply with your current CV, and talk to people across the subdisciplines as requested.

  • 9
    Exactly. Don't read entrails, that's not the applicants job. Sep 12, 2023 at 17:39
  • 6
    @CaptainEmacs "I will consult the bones. The bones tell me... nothing"
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 12, 2023 at 17:42
  • 3
    At least with a Magic 8-Ball you always get an answer, even if it doesn't help...
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 12, 2023 at 17:52
  • 1
    @JonCuster "I see great opportunities in your next decision." "Important events are looming ahead." "You are uncertain about the future, but it will develop as it has to." Sep 13, 2023 at 2:58
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    @DanielHatton - fair enough, but the result is the same - if all the previous short list candidates failed to get enough support then not being short listed before has no bearing. I added a bit to cover that.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 13, 2023 at 15:35

The applicant pool changes each time, so just because you were not the preferred applicant last time (and maybe not even close) does not mean you will not be the preferred applicant this time. In particular, bear in mind that they would have already selected their best applicant last time so this person is now probably out of the pool of applicants. I recommend you follow the instructions to contact relevant faculty and apply again --- you've got to be in it to win it.

  • 1
    As with @JonCuster's answer, the practical advice is good, but the logic leading up to it fails to account for the (very high, IME) probability that the department didn't fill the vacancy on the previous occasion. The empty chair is always in the applicant pool, even (perhaps especially) if it's already been selected. Sep 13, 2023 at 9:48

Apply again. Contact the person again. Not only are you a different applicant with your new publication, but your competition is also different. Who knows if Dr. Wonderful applied last year and got the job, but turned out to be a nutcase. They now swear to give the job to a different type of applicant, and ta-da, your now-perfect CV shows up in their inbox. You gotta throw a line for the fish to bite.

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