A Philosopher's Blog

Search Committee Blues

Posted in Universities & Colleges by Michael LaBossiere on July 28, 2010
giant stack of resumes
Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

No time for a proper post today-I got assigned the chair of a search committee on Monday and have to complete the process right away.

However, based on my experience so far I have some advice for people applying for academic jobs:

  • Include a brief cover letter. Be clear, concise and focus on how you match the position.
  • If you are not qualified at all for the position, it might be best not to apply. Your call, though-sometimes luck can be a marvelous thing.
  • When asked for a brief writing sample, select what you take to be your best work and include a brief sample. No committee member wants to read through a 100 page “sample”, let alone a hundred of them.
  • Do not go overboard in what you send. The odds are that the committee does not need to see your high school transcripts nor a scanned copy of all your diplomas. As a general test, ask yourself how much you would enjoy going through what you are sending in twenty or two hundred times. Sometimes less really is more.
  • It is generally a good idea to print only on one side of printed documents. The odds are that some poor fellow (like me) will have to photocopy or scan your application material. Having to deal with two sides is annoying (unless the right equipment is on hand, which it was not).
  • It is generally a good idea to not staple every single document. Again, some poor fellow will probably have to scan or copy the material. Pulling 20 staples out of an application package so it can fed through a scanner is not much fun.
  • Be sure to send everything that is asked for in the job description. While there are some exceptions, an incomplete application will generally not do very well. In fact, some are simply rejected outright.
  • Be patient.
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2 Responses

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  1. Job Description Template said, on July 28, 2010 at 5:33 am

    Great advice! seems there few real articles like this written online these days, thanks for sharing..hope you put a link about this in any social media network..thanks once again!

  2. T. J. Babson said, on July 28, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Lots of advice about how to make the lives of the people on search committees easier.

    Here’s one for the search committees: you should hold off on asking busy people to write letters of recommendation until you have made the first cut of the job applicants. If I am going to take the time to write a detailed letter, I would like to feel confident that the candidate I am recommending is being seriously considered for the job.

    Too many search committees want 3 letters of recommendation for all applicants.


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