Crafting Academic Cover Letters: A Reminder

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I know I’ve written about this before, but just a quick reminder for those on the market for the late arriving community college job openings:

  • Please re-read the job description and make sure you meet the minimum qualifications: you WILL be weeded out if you do not, and since HR is overwhelmed, faculty designees, such as myself, are doing the weeding, and it makes me quite grumpy to find several folks a day who think they alone are qualified despite not meeting the minimum qualifications, though I do sometimes enjoy the verbal gymnastics that some candidates go through to try to make themselves appear to meet the minimum qualifications. My advice: if you wish to argue for meeting a qualification that you truly do not have, at least concede in the value of that qualification rather than dismiss it as irrelevant.
  • Please tailor your letter to the position:An eight page cover letter that includes a detailed overview of your current research, and a  list of graduate students you have worked with, by name, with their research project titles?   For a position teaching first and second year students? No. A cover letter that is only one paragraph long is too short; one that is over 3 pages is probably too long (and there is debate about 3). A letter that does not even mention the name of our college, or the position you are applying for, is just not going to make it clear to us that you truly want THIS position.
  • And yes, I know the software requiring you to upload documents is cumbersome, but you may want to double check before you hit submit: one candidate submitted hir cover letter 4 times (instead of including hir CV, for example).
  • You may want to update your reference letters, fyi: one candidate submitted letters that were all addressing a four-year old job opening at an entirely different type of institution. 
  • Yes, this one is a true oddity, so I mention it only for kicks and giggles: a cover letter written in the third person is very funny, and truly bizarro.  I’m curious: what professional fields require or encourage cover letters written in the third person?

Dear Search Committee,

Candidate Archie Simpson is simply perfect for your college. He has years of experience, and an admirable education to boot!  Let me tell you more about Dr. Simpson in as much detail as possible, and, while you read this fascinating description of Dr. Simpson, imagine you are hearing a big, booming radio personality voice reading it aloud to you. Believe me: you WILL hire Dr. Simpson after reading this letter!

It made me laugh at least!