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Monday, May 16, 2011

Job Applications

I've spent the past week reviewing job applications for a full-time history position at CMC.  This position is split 50-50 between on-campus and online.  The job was open for approximately 2.5 weeks and we received 163 applications.  (An English one posted at the same time received over 100 more than that.)  So how do you distinguish yourself from the crowd?
  1. Fill out the application correctly and send in all of the requested material. Just over 1/2 of the applications were eliminated by human resources because they didn't have all of the requested material or didn't meet the minimum requirements.  Several people uploaded the wrong file - an extra letter of interest instead of a CV for example.
  2. Be timely.  Once the review of applications begins we really aren't going to look at applications that come in after that unless the pool is shallow.  A shallow pool isn't a strong likelihood in these economic times.
  3. Tailor your cover letter to the position.  
    1. Specifically mention both the minimum and preferred requirements and show us how you meet them.  Many applicants for this position didn't mention the words "online" or "technology".  That's a mistake when applying for a position that requires online teaching. It's great that you love teaching in a F2F classroom, but I need to now you are also excited about teaching in the online environment.
    2. Mention something that shows us you looked at the college website and researched the position.
    3. Mention something about the geographic area in which the position is located.  
    4. Tell us why you are excited about the position and why we should be excited about you.  What makes you special?  We know you meet the minimum qualifications, so what sets you apart? 
    5. Think about the buzz words people reading a lot of applications might be looking for:  1st gen college students, working with diversity, languages, technology, online, pedagogy.  (Community colleges, for example, are teaching institutions.  What extra training do you have in F2F and online teaching pedagogies?  How about andragogies?  No one mentioned that word at all.)
  4. If you have a good teaching philosophy (that includes online and technology) include it in the same document as your letter of interest.  That's a good place to ensure it's read. A teaching philosophy is a good place to include more personal information (and pictures) without extending the letter of interest.
  5. The C.V.:  I have to admit I didn't spend as much time on the CV as I did on the letter of interest.  Almost everyone has taught the history courses from the first two years of college. What stood out here was mistakes - people who told us which courses they wanted to teach for us and obviously hadn't looked at the spring or fall schedule first.  I did look through presentations and highlighted those in teaching theory, technology, American history and Western Civ.  I looked for community college teaching experience, although that should have been high-lighted in the letter of interest also.  And I noted when applicants explicitly stated which courses were developed and taught in the online format.  After a few dozen CV's I really appreciated those that grouped and summarized information and tailored the CV to the position.  A 5 or 6 page CV is too long. 
Sound excited, sound friendly, and sound fun to work with.  Consider using multimedia (a picture) or providing a link to a website with more information or some content you have developed or maybe a lesson plan.  This position involves technology, show us you can use it and that you are excited about using it.   No one gave us a website, a twitter ID, a blog URL.  I would have loved to see any of those.

More Advice from Inside Higher Ed:

Good Luck!


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