What are the (personal) odds?
Many people publish a Shadow CV of sorts, including Jeremy Fox at Dynamic Ecology and Manu Saunders at Ecology is not a dirty word. Jacquelyn Gill at Contemplative Mammoth advocates for the idea but hasn't published one yet - tsk tsk! Personally, I really liked the post by Jeremy Yoder about time to tenure track.
The Shadow CV is supposed to illustrate that life isn't all peaches and cream. It serves as a reminder that for every success we get to celebrate, there are likely several 'failures' in the background. There is merit to this information. It provides a more realistic picture for early-mid career researchers. It reminds us to be humble and not take 'success' for granted. It's also kinda nice to look back on and think "damn, I did a lot of work".
So, without further ado, here's some quick stats from me.
Here's a quick summary of the 'success' relative to 'failure' to that I have had on various fronts. I've been pretty lucky in some areas, but of course, like most, I have been hit pretty hard in the job and grants categories.
Numbers of 'successes' relative to applications/submissions in academia to date
Focus on jobs:
For the past three years I have been applying for faculty level jobs - be it 'Lecturer' or 'Assistant Professor'. As you can see from above it wasn't exactly a stellar performance, but I don't know too many who do have that feather in the cap.
Number of faculty level positions applied for each year
The first year of applications was a very broad net encompassing a variety of position titles and geographic locations. From this, I learned that I had much better 'success' under certain position titles than others.
Numbers of position titles I applied for by keyword
*Note that some position titles contained multiple keywords
This allowed me to tailor my applications more and start building more 'success' each year. Interestingly, I had proportionally more 'success' in the Southern Hemisphere. Perhaps this was due to the fact that I am from the Southern Hemisphere and did my undergrad and grad studies there. Not sure.
Many more jobs are advertised for the Northern Hemisphere each year so I naturally applied for more there. For the jobs I applied for in the Northern Hemisphere that actually provided me with a rejection and stated how many applications they received, it was typically ~200 applicants. When you make it to the references or interview stage out of that many applicants you tend to feel a little better about it all.
'Success' relative to applications for jobs applied for by location
Like Jeremy Yoder, about 50% of the jobs I applied for I never received a rejection from, although I think it is safe to say I am no longer in the running :-)
So, there you have it. Next time you get rejected you can look at stats like these and know that it happens to all of us. With any luck we keep learning from these experiences and get a little better each time!