Dr. Brazen Hussy posted yesterday about her faculty job search this season, and made the following remarkable statement:
This is about 1/3 of the job listings that I could conceivably apply for, but I am restraining myself and only applying to jobs I want - and only to jobs with a description that is reasonably similar to what it is I actually do. I'm keeping an eye on the job listings but I don't anticipate applying for more than about 10 jobs.
This is fucking crazy talk!!!1!1!
You must apply to every single possible faculty job out there for which you are even remotely qualified, and regardless of whether you would ever take the position.
There are a number of reasons to do what I am saying:
(1) Frequently, the job ad does not really reflect what the department will end up realizing it wants out of the search.
(2) You need practice giving job talks for realz, and the lesser institutions that you wouldn't necessarily want to take a position at tend to interview earlier in the season.
(3) Offers beget offers.
(4) You need other offers to give you a strong position to negotiate the offers you really want.
And don't be afraid that people, departments, or institutions will be "mad" at you if they figure out that you are using their search in this way. Everyone understands that this is how things work.
And less prestigious departments/institutions figure that by bringing some out-of-their-league candidates in for interviews, they do have a chance to dazzle them with their whatthefuckever and score one. And less prestigious departments/institutions protect themselves by also inviting candidates they know they have a decent shot of recruiting.