Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Search Committee Serge from Shreveport Joins the Job Search Conversation.

Tell Lex from Lakeland that we like easy decisions when we have three or four classes to teach, exams to grade, essays to write, committee meetings, advisees, etc. and 100 applications to read. We like cutting that huge stack of applications down. But I read your message carefully, and I will admit that you’ve given me things to consider. Is it fair that because I’m busy, you have to work to make my day lighter? No.

My department has no graduate program, and all the typical freshmen courses in my field are housed in another college. Applicants promising to do a great job in courses we do not and will not teach don’t hold my interest—as we make those facts clear in our ad so one doesn’t have to go to our sucky web page. At best, our colleagues work on a 3/3 teaching load with heavy advising duties. Your research plans may be of particular interest to other types of schools, but not to us. I might be more interested to know: What courses are you prepared to teach—in September? Have you ever had to advise thirty or forty majors? Can you balance teaching, research, and service?

So let’s compromise: If you choose to write “generic” cover letters may I suggest that you at least consider three or four generic ones? Don’t make our job easier by sending to us a cover letter that you can use for any and all openings. Come up with three or four cover letters, and send to us the one that makes us look at your application closely. Ease our concerns about “fit.” If you want a job like the one we’re offering, make us know that. Otherwise, we might worry that you’re applying to every job—and you will leave after a year or two to take the job you really want and we will have to do this horrible work again.

The very least you can do: make us think that you have read our ad—and not just copied and pasted the contact info into your job-search-macro.