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The committees themselves create job descriptions and screening instruments, but at many institutions, a human resources officer reviews these.Such oversight by a legal authority means that a candidate could be the brightest nabob of post-colonial literature and have published five articles in the last two years, but if the college hasn’t advertised for that specialty, the committee cannot legally value it highly. Since the subject of your letter is way you’ll fit the institution, show yourself to be professionally active and intellectually engaged.
If your heart is set on teaching, however, these hints may help in crafting a rhetorically effective letter. Explicitly match the description of your skills to the requirements of the job as it is posted.Screening committees don’t want to hire slackers, so they look for candidates with intellectual muscle, believing those people to be more professional and thus likelier to grow the department.Every act of hiring is an act of molding a department, infusing the fresh ideas incarnated in the new hire.(Fortunately, the CV format does not invite this practice.) Your audience does not know you and is therefore indifferent to your needs; rather, they focus acutely on those of their department.Your job is to convince readers that you can fulfill those needs, and starting with your ideal job description makes that document “all about me.” The audience will worry. Don’t overuse “I.” It’s possible to show your accomplishments by having others recognize them.Instead of being one of a hundred, you’ll be one of four or five candidates. Alexis Nelson remembers the 60s as a participant rather than as a student of pop culture; she has taught writing and literature classes at Spokane Falls Community College since the early 1980s and currently serves as chair of the English department.Sharing another post in our new semi-regular series, “Missives from the Editing Trenches” written by long-time TPII editors.Here are three stylistic choices to avoid (admittedly fussy, perhaps idiosyncratic, but nonetheless worth noting): 8.Avoid the salutation “To Whom It May Concern”; instead, use “Dear Members of the Screening Committee” or “Dear Selection Committee Members”—more accurate and personable. If the posted job asks for a résumé rather than a CV, do not tell your audience the kind of job you seek.Landing an academic job is tough, and at no point in the process are the odds longer than in getting a foot in the door to interview.Often the number of applicants for a position, particularly in the humanities, exceeds 100.