This post from Philosophy of Brains is pure gold for someone who wants to snark about the philosophy job market. For someone who's actually on the job market, though, it's pretty fucking depressing. There's a lot in it, so I'll be coming back to it at some point. But for now, I just want to highlight this:
Your cover letter doesn’t count in your favor if it’s good, but it can count against you if it’s sloppy. You should address all job requirements and say something about why you want that particular job.
I should say something about why I want that particular job, huh? Why, that sounds pretty darn reasonable, doesn't it? I mean, that's exactly what my high school guidance counselor told my class a cover letter was for, and I have no doubt that b-school kids get told the same thing. "I am especially interested in opportunities to use and further develop my leadership skills, and I think your firm's commitment to creative and team-based management will allow me to acheive those professional goals and blah blah fucking blah. . . ."
Last year, each one of my cover letters was addressed to a specific person with a specific departmental address. And each letter asked that my application be considered for a specific job, as numbered in the JFP. But beyond that, they were generic. They said what was in the application: my CV, my writing sample(s), an abstract of my dissertation, my teaching portfolio, and in some cases, my transcripts.
You want to know why I didn't individualize the letters any more than that? Because I sent out 94 of them. That's right. 94 cover letters with 94 applications. And some search committes want my letter to tell them, all chipper-like, why I think I'd be a great fit for their department? They know as well as I do that, chances are, as soon as they see my AOSs and AOCs, they'll decide I'm not what they're looking for, and then my application's done. So fuck that. 94 different fucking departments are are not going to get individually written cover letters from me, just so they can throw them the fuck out.
94 individually written cover letters? No fucking way.