Wednesday, March 24, 2010

search committee woes

I am chairing a search committee for a coordinator position in another department. Although I've chaired several professional searches before, I've experienced enough annoyances this time around to warrant the creation of the "how to improve your chances of getting a job" list below.

1. Read the position description carefully, especially the "minimum qualifications" section. Although coordinator positions at my institution are sometimes considered entry level, not all of them are. If a position requires five years of full-time work experience, do NOT apply if you've never held a full-time job in your life. Likewise, if a position requires a college degree and you don't have one, don't apply!

2.  These days many colleges and universities are sophisticated enough to have an online application system. UMD lags behind, which means that search committee chairs have to field hundreds of applications packets with little or no administrative support. Take pity on the search committee chair. Submit your cover letter, resume, and list of references as ONE pdf file, preferably named with your full name. Please do not attach every file as a separate document, or (gasp) send a separate email for each document.

3. When submitting one file, proofread to make sure you've eliminated blank white pages. It's really annoying to print an applicant's packet to find blank pages interspersed throughout it.

4. Use one method to apply for a job: email, fax, or snail mail. Do not use all three and end up applying for the same job three times!

5. It's certainly acceptable to ask for a confirmation of receipt of application materials. But do not email and call every hour on the hour--you'll just come off as paranoid. Give the person time to return your call.

6. If you've never worked at a college or university before, do your research before you apply. Searches take FOREVER at institutions of higher education. Expecting a two-or-four-week turnaround time like in other sectors is unrealistic. It normally takes months to hire someone. Be prepared to wait.

7. Don't try to bully your way into an interview. There is such a thing as being too aggressive. If the search committee is interested, they'll call you.


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