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I will use fake names for the sake of anonymity. I have recently completed my PhD and applied to a professor position at University ABC. It has been almost 3 months since my application and I sent out an email to the Chair of the department (who presumably is the person in charge of recruiting academic/faculty members) but did not receive any response. There is another senior faculty member at University ABC, Dr. M, whose research is similar to mine and whose work I have referenced in my thesis. Moreover, Dr. M also attended the same university as my academic supervisor but they have never formally met.

Dr. M may not be involved at all in the recruitment process. However, I would like to ask for Dr. M's help in case he is able to give my application a push.

I am not sure how to write an email to Dr. M to ask for his help in such a scenario since there is no reason for me to believe that he is involved in the recruitment process. Nevertheless, I do want this job and I wan to do everything I can to make sure my application gets properly considered. How can I go about this task?

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    Was there actually a posted job opening? Your narrative doesn't make that clear. If there wasn't, your application is almost 100% likely to have gone straight into the rubbish can or spam folder. – RoboKaren Feb 9 '17 at 2:55
  • @RoboKaren: Good point. And if there was a posted job opening, it should have listed the appropriate person to contact - usually the chair of the search committee and not the department chair. – Nate Eldredge Feb 9 '17 at 4:25
  • @RoboKaren My application was in response to a posting on their website. The name and email of the chair of the search committee was in the posting; however the chair has a different research area than mine. I sent an email to the chair but I didn't hear back, that's why i'm leaning towards sending an email to Dr. M. – roland Feb 9 '17 at 21:52
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The typical approach is to send an email saying something like:

Dear Dr. M.,

My name is ... and I am applying for the position of ... in your department. (Brief summary of your professional background and research interests.) I am particularly interested in the position because I would look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with you. Please let me know if there's anything you want to discuss. My CV is attached (maybe also a preprint).

This alerts Dr. M to the fact you are applying, so that he can get in touch with the search committee if he wants to support your application.

However, normally you would do this at roughly the same time as you submit the application. You say you applied three months ago, but when is the application deadline? If it hasn't passed yet, or if it was just a few days ago, then there might still be time for an email to Dr. M to have some effect.

But if it passed some time ago, then the search committee has probably already finished one or more rounds of screening. If that's the case, and you haven't been invited to interview or otherwise contacted, then unfortunately, you probably didn't make the initial cut. In that case there is very little that Dr. M can do, so not much point in contacting him.

(By the way, it's pretty much irrelevant that your advisor went to the same university as Dr. M, if they haven't otherwise been in contact. That kind of relationship is roughly comparable to this one. So I'd leave it out of any message.)

  • Thank you very much for your response! I found that Youtube link very explanatory haha. The deadline for the application was around two months ago, and my application says that it is still active. So I don't think that it has been rejected. Do you think it is too late to send an email now? – roland Feb 9 '17 at 21:56
  • @roland: The fact that it's still "active" doesn't really mean anything. Common practice in academic searches is that you narrow down your candidates over several stages, but you don't technically consider anyone to be formally rejected until you've actually hired someone else. You keep open the possibility that you might go back and look again at someone that you previously ruled out; but in practice it almost never actually happens. We don't know what this particular department's timeline is, but I think it's likely that you're not being actively considered anymore. Sorry. – Nate Eldredge Feb 9 '17 at 22:53
  • I think it would be better to write a more targeted email, where you comment and/or ask a question about some paper the person has written. Something that would pique his interest, and trigger a response. Also, if you want him to push your application along, or you want to ask what the status of your application is (neither of which I personally would do in the situation you describe, but if you're comfortable doing that, go ahead), please be explicit. Chances are that Nate's approach would not elicit a response. – aparente001 Feb 23 '17 at 5:08

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