(Guest Post by Claire Kenyon)
This is the time of year when job candidates are getting ready to send out their applications. I have done this many times over the years. Here are a few suggestions based on my experience.
Candidates want to find a job where they will be successful; department want to hire candidates who will be successful in their job: this is not inherently adversarial; it's just a question of finding the right match.
1) Don't call a place "College" if it's a "University", and vice-versa. Get the names of committees and of people right. Obvious, yet, it took me a few years to learn this!
2)How to get the reader to look beyond the cover letter? Catch their attention. Give a specific reason why you are interested in that place; preferably personal (something that says something about you, and that few other candidates are likely to say.) "I am interested in the computer science department at University Lambda because of its unique research interest in Reducing the Number of Greek Symbols in Analysis of Stuff, and its joint project with the Humanities department on that subject. My publications have a lot of greek symbols in them (see [1,2,3,4,5] for example), and I would be very interested in applying the lambda methodology to my work."
3) How to get the reader to forward your application to the right person? Give specific names. For example:
Professor Big Shot, who I met during the 2007 Symposium on Theory of Unreasonable Protocols for Integer Data (see ), encouraged me to apply.That context will help Big Shot place you in their memory when they get the application.
4) Be self-consistent. Do not tell UC Big
I just love the idea of public service in the rich environment of a large university
and simultaneously tell Happy University
I love the idea of mentoring a small group of select students in the focused environment of a small high-quality university.
The reasons are that this may become known (we do talk to one another) and would cost you your credibility; that you won't be able to follow through by arguing convincingly both ways; and that such blatant mis-representation of yourself makes it more difficult to find the right match.
5) Read the ad, and address obvious issues upfront.
You said you're looking to hire a researcher in human-computer interaction using ergonomic mouse pads, and my area, cryptanalysis of public-key cryptosystems using elliptic curves, may at first sight look somewhat remote; however there are surprising connections that I intend to reveal in my future research: elliptic curves