by Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper, Ph.D.
(Atlanta, GA, USA)
I am ending my six-year term as Chairperson of the Department of English at a wonderful liberal arts college. During these six years, we have both advertised positions and filled adjunct positions as needed.
In both cases, I must say that the successful candidates are people who were specific in their applications. Candidates who had researched our web page, had Googled our other instructor's profiles, and who knew something about our actual offerings, were able to apply with specific accuracy.
Our search committee is always pleased to see that candidates know about our online literary magazine or are aware of a course that is required of all students. Likewise, when candidates have met successful graduates, they can say how much they would enjoy teaching students...such as that graduate.
Even an unsolicited resume' is more appealing, when the applicant names specific courses. "If you have an opening in World Literature, please keep me in mind. Or, If you need adjunct coverage for journalism, I would love to be considered."
Obviously, the resume' should indicate graduate preparation, experience, and/or publications that would support such applications.
By contrast, folks who send a letter and a resume', "To whom it may concern" (without looking us up to get a target name); or even worse, "Dear Sir" (which is extremely offensive to a woman who receives the letter) are not attractive candidates.
If a candidate does not take the time to investigate the place to which he or she is applying, then the candidate really doesn't seem to care very much. Some time spent preparing can reap wonderful benefits!
When a candidate knows what he or she might be best qualified to do, then the candidate makes it much more likely that the recipient of the letter -- especially an unsolicited letter -- will keep the application and the resume' on file...just in case something becomes available.
Dr. Donna Sullivan-Harper has many years of experience in the field of Higher Education; both as a Department chairperson as well as an Instructor of Undergraduate & Graduate students.
When she is not attending to academic affairs, she enjoys quality time with her family and friends. Donna also enjoys traveling domestically and abroad. To comment on her article and/or to contact her personally, please comment via the hyperlink below.
Comments for Job Applicants: Be Specific!
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