Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's Raining Men! Hallelujah!

In case anyone missed it, here's A Guy on Hiring Committees' take on departments that want cover letters to say why the candidate's interested in their particular school:
Writing school-specific cover letters is a pain, and asking applicants to write an essay on the topic of "What special qualities I would bring to your department" is moronic. But I've heard that some schools that aren't in the Leiter top 50 toss files out based solely on the cover letter: if it's generic, the file goes. At first, I was scandalized. They might be eliminating loads of good candidates! But they're not worried about eliminating good candidates. They know that, with 100 or 200 (or 300 or 400 or 500) files, they won't have trouble finding 12 candidates who are good enough. And what they're looking for are 12 candidates who are good enough and who actually show some interest in the job. So what they're doing isn't crazy. (Yes, you could show interest at the interview. But why should they wait until then? They can find 12 people who, before the interview, have evinced particular interest.)
That's right, isn't it? God damn.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yup, that's right!

Start Googling hiring Departments now!

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I do think that depatments should put the specifics they'd like addressed in the ad itself. Forcing someone to guess which part of the mission statement is the crucial bit is pretty pointless.

On the other hand, when an adverstisment asks for an explanation of experince teaching and experience with diversity, the letter should cover that.

languagepolice said...

Something I've encountered a couple of times is an ad in JFP, the Chronicle or various other sources may be rather basic, while the ad on the college/university HR site is somewhat more detailed. In the case of a job I sent out materials to earlier this week, the information seemed very important (specific duties of the position missing in the widely published ad).

If I were paranoid, I would wonder if this means there's a strong inside candidate, but I am hoping to hold off on paranoia for at least a couple more weeks...

Anyhow, in addition to googling departments, double-checking HR sites is a good idea. Some ads tell you to do this anyway, but in the case of the job I applied to earlier in the week, there was no such indication.

Anonymous said...

languagepolice -- Schools are not required to advertise in JFP. One sign that there's an inside candidate is that the job is not advertised in JFP but only in some other, less well-known venue. So that the job was advertised in JFP is a good sign. Or at least there could be worse signs.

-- That Guy

Anonymous said...

For some reason, I was under the impression that advertisements had to be widely distributed in various venues for affirmative action purposes. Something to do with encouraging underrepresented candidates by making sure that they really knew of the opening. Our department still gets emails and paper mailings advertising positions widely--even those I'd seen months before in JFP, Chronicle, HigherEdJobs.com, etc. When I asked the administrator, she said AA was the reason for the redundancy.

But then I have also noticed the barely advertised jobs as well, but figured the college was on a tight budget.

languagepolice said...

Anon 7:10 (aka That Guy) - Thanks. That will help defer any application madness for at least a little while longer...

Anonymous said...

thanks for the post. i still think it's moronic. and while this might generalize for some teaching schools and non-ranked research schools, I find it hard to believe.

I've found a lot of helpful info about aspects of the dossier and the application process from many sources, but the cover letter business is the most anecdotal and least consistent so far. Some just throw them out, others want a bare minimum outlining what's in the dossier, others want a tailored personal statement. Some say you should say a lot, others say that saying too much can only put your foot in your mouth, and make the rest of your dossier seem redundant.

Unless the ad says otherwise, I'm still prone to keeping it minimal.

thanks for your input, though