Subject: Thank You
Thank you for applying for the positions we advertised at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. We were very impressed by the range and quality of the applications received this year. I'm not surprised to see how many of the people who applied for the positions here have landed excellent jobs, in departments that are I'm sure delighted to have hired them.
Unfortunately, we now have offers out to other candidates, and if they are accepted that will fill our available jobs for the year. I wish we could have hired more people, and when we next have positions advertised, we will be contacting many of the people who applied this year to encourage them to apply again.
Congratulations to everyone who already has a job this cycle, and good luck to everyone still searching.
Chair, Search Committee,
Philosophy Department, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
I thought this was tasteful and well-done, starting with the subject line. A bunch of this stuff doesn't really apply to me--I didn't land a job, excellent or otherwise; I'm 100% positive that they won't be contacting me to encourage me to apply again--but still. I'll take a "thank you and good luck" anytime. This isn't the best PFO I've ever had, or anything, but I'd put it in the top 10.
The other one, by contrast, went like this:
Subject: Not Selected for Campus for Interview
Thank you for your interest in the Assistant Professor of Philosophy position in the Philosophy Department department at xxxx. At this time, the search committee has selected other candidates whose skills and abilities are better suited for the department. We wish you the best in your job search endeavors.
I was genuinely appalled by this. The blunt and ungrammatical subject line; the fact that has been obvious since December that I was not selected for campus for interview; the reference to my skills and abilities; the way it's not even really signed. This is not how it's done, Search Chair.
Why is it so hard to say "we didn't hire you, but thanks for applying and good luck" without being a total asshole?