Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Blog CLXVIII (168): Job Hunting Tips: The Application

What "dos" and "don'ts" would you pass on to a new scholar going out on the job market.  That is a question I asked a number of friends and colleagues.  The response was overwhelming.  Dozens and dozens of people replied.  These comments come from scholars working at community colleges (Lorain County Community College), small liberal arts colleges (Concordia University Wisconsin), regional state schools (Humboldt State University and Texas A&M University—Commerce), and research universities both public (Ohio State and North Carolina) and private (Brigham Young and Vanderbilt).  They are mostly historians working in academic departments, but some teach in professional programs (U.S. Naval War College and the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University).  Click here to see Part 1 entitled "Before Hand." Here is part 2 entitled: "The Application":
  • Follow the rules—Jason Parker, Department of History, Texas A&M University
  • Pay attention to application directions. If the committee asks for letters to be submitted electronically by writers, don't collect and send the letters via postal mail. Committees often are restricted by institutional software on what they can and cannot add to an application.—Craig Friend, Department of History, North Carolina State University
  • If you want to stand out or make a positive impression, get the application (all of it) in early; the committee will notice and have a bit more time to look at your letters and resume, before they are flooded with applications in the last two or three days before the deadline.—Nicholas Evan Sarantakes, Department of Strategy and Policy, U.S. Naval War College
  • Limit your cover letter to 1 page. Search committees put a premium on succinctness.—T. Michael Parrish, Department of History, Baylor University
  • Limit your resume to 2 pages. Same reason.—T. Michael Parrish, Department of History, Baylor University
  • Proofread. A cover letter filled with careless errors will not impress a committee.—Stanley J. Adamiak, Department of History and Geography, University of Central Oklahoma
  • Fashion your letter and resume to fit the specific job, but don't distort your strengths and credentials.—T. Michael Parrish, Department of History, Baylor University
  • DO tailor your job letter to the needs of the university. Don’t stress your research to a teaching school, or your teaching to a research school.—Mitch Lerner, Department of History, The Ohio State University
  • Write a lucid your job letter that indicates how you are highly qualified for the job you seek; explicate the central contribution of your dissertation.—Steven Reiss, Department of History, Northeastern Illinois University
  • I think that the thing that I see the most in reviewing applications this is problematic is cover letters from candidates that are not specifically tailored for the position—lacking a sense of the department's courses, current faculty, etc., sometimes not even focusing on the advertised position.  In a job market with so many candidates, this really shows an astonishing lack of time investment that really does make a difference to a search committee.—Andy Johns, Department of History, Brigham Young University
  • DO craft a letter tailored to each position. Although much of your cover letter will be fine for every position, make sure that at least a paragraph explains how well you fit the advertised position/complement other specializations in the department/long to live in that part of the country. Make the committee believe that you actually want that particular job.—Judy Ford, Department of History, Texas A&M University—Commerce
  • DO send sample syllabi in the teaching areas of the specific job, not just syllabi of surveys.—William Ashbaugh, Department of History, State University of New York—Oneonta
  • Check with letter writers a couple weeks before the application deadline to make sure that they wrote and sent letters.—Craig Friend, Department of History, North Carolina State University
  • After submitting your application materials, do follow up with the head of the search committee or HR to make sure that your package is complete.—Hillary Gleason, Laredo Community College
  • DON'T bug the committee about the status of your application. A lot of the schedule is beyond the control of the search committee members—really! If you haven't heard anything after submitting an application, it may be that the institution's HR department issues all the rejection letters, at their own pace, without reference to the wishes of the committee. The committee may not be allowed to inform you that your application was rejected. If you are interviewed by phone or in person and weeks go by without hearing anything, it may mean that there is nothing the committee can say. Maybe another candidate has gotten the offer, and is dragging out negotiations which, if they fall through, means that you will get the offer next. Don't worry about being a second or third choice—if you get an offer chances are that someone on the committee thinks that you were the top candidate. It is not uncommon for committees to like several candidates very much, nearly equally.—Judy Ford, Department of History, Texas A&M University—Commerce

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