More on Cover Letters3 ♥
The Pinakes wrote a really good primer on writing cover letters and resume for librarians that is worth your time. I had a few other things that I thought might be worth sharing as an addendum, but reblogging messes up the formatting of the post. But you should go read his post in another window. I’ll wait.
Ok, so now that you’re back. This obviously doesn’t focus on academic hiring specifically since that’s not really (save for a year as an adjunct) in my wheelhouse. I’m a web guy who has been in the field for nearly a decade. I’ve been on hiring committees, I’ve been on the winning and losing side of interviews and I’ve managed enough projects where I’ve had to hire people that I feel like I have one dude’s unique perspective on the process. Like anything, YMMV.
I’ll add a few things:
Don’t go over a page for your resume or cover letter unless you have a really good reason to. If you’ve been in a field 5+ years or something, then it can make sense that your resume will be over two pages, especially for profiling your job history. Entry level folks make this mistake that people want to know everything they ever did that might be remotely related to the job. If they do, they’d rather be told about it in an interview. Be succinct. Get to the point.
Cover letter time is not the time to be modest. But don’t get carried away.You don’t want to use your cover letter or resume to inflate accomplishments. That’s a no-brainer. But you need to stand out. This Guy Kawasaki piece on resumes some years back was instructive because while it was not something 99% of people could really do in a normal, everyday job context without getting laughed off the scene, the boldness and his admonishment to “use every advantage you have” was so true. The hiring market — not just in higher ed, but everywhere — is competitive. TL;DR:STAND OUT.
If people aren’t calling, you need to change your approach.To use a sports analogy, your batting average would be the number of interviews you get divided by the number of resumes you send out. If you’re striking out, you need to modify your approach. Whether it’s geographic considerations, finding a lateral position that pays more rather than trying to apply for a job where you only meet the minimum requirements, etc. You have to switch up the practice to get different results if what you’re doing isn’t working.
You want to always be operating from a position of strength. You need to be wanted and the way to do that is for whoever receives your resume materials to be pleased at their good fortune that someone like you showed up on their doorstep. This might sometimes mean taking jobs in places other people might not want to live. Quality of life is important. But if you’re young, have proximity to things you enjoy and can earn experience while preparing for your next opportunity, it’s hard to beat that. If you set yourself up early, you can be positioned a few years in to work in “your dream job.”
I hadn’t even had my tea yet.