Sunday, September 30, 2007

Win or loose - writing the cover letter

I'd like to say I'm working on a cover letter for my job application, but rather I'm fretting over getting started. I'm now on my third cup of coffee this morning and a good deal of surfing on the internet, laundry and baking preparations have been done in lieu of writing. It shouldn't be so hard. It's only one page of text after all, and it's about myself whom I know fairly well and I have already thought a good deal about why I would want this job and why I think I would be a good fit. I have also thought a good deal about the fact, they this particular department in the past have tended to hire people with significantly more experience than me and about my embarrasingly short publication list.

I know this institution, I know what's important to them and I know they think I'm a good fit, but I don't know a single soul in the evaluation committee who will be judging my application. I have no idea what they will be looking for and how to emphasise my strenghts in a way where they will be convinced those are more important than my weaknesses. Outlining my strenghts in a well-organized and compelling way in a one page narrative suddenly seems frightening beyond reason. It's not that I don't think I have any strenghts. I know I have a strong teaching record. I have gotten grants. I'm in the middle of succesful research that will yield publishable results. I have ideas for future research that I think would fit the goals for this particular institution and ideas about how to involve students into this. But looking at the cursor on a blank page make me sick to my stomach.

I think that more than the doable job of jotting down notes, reorganizing sentences and crafting the strongest possible letter, what I really worry about is putting myself out there. Actually joining the competition where you win some and you loose some. It's so easy for me to put all the arguments for why I should be a good candidate together in my mind, but so difficult to send these thoughts off into the world where they will be scrutinized by people who don't know me, who don't care about what I would like, but care about getting the best candidate. It also makes the job search real in terms of the possibility of leaving my current job. Once the application is out there, it's official that I'm looking for something else. Even though I am looking for something else, for a different type of institution and more focus on one of my sub disciplines than the other, it's strangely sad to let go of what I have here.



At 2:54 AM, Blogger Wayfarer Scientista said...

Oh...I'm doing the same thing! And I find writing cover letters the absolute hardest part of a job application for reasons that can't really be clarified. Good luck.

PS - glad to find you, a fellow circumpolar dweller, recently via the Scientiae.

At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Writing a Research Paper said...

Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.


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