How To Find a Job Step One: Crafting Your CV and Cover Letter

Presentation originally given by Dr. Therese Lysaught on Wednesday, October 6, 2010. A .pdf file of this text can be found here, and the original PowerPoint presentation here.

Further helpful comments on this topic may be found in this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

When do you start crafting your CV?

  • At least three years before you start applying

What are you doing during this time?

  • Looking at job ads
  • Presenting at conferences
  • Attempting to get one or two high quality publications
  • Applying for internal and external fellowships
  • Getting limited teaching experience
  • Preparing Future Faculty
  • E-learning Certificate
  • Taking advantage of every free or low-cost program at MU
  • Pursuing career-related or interest-related graduate student activities

Job Ads?

  • Chronicle of Higher Education (free)
  • AAR website (not free but pay up!)
  • SBL website (free)
  • Other discipline specific websites
  • Jobs at MU (free)
  • Association of Jesuit Colleges website

What kinds of jobs?

  • Everything for which you are even a slight fit!
    • Now is not the time to be picky or snooty
    • There is no job that is “beneath you”
    • There is no job that is “above you”
    • Why?
      • Good practice
      • You never know
      • It’s easier to get a job when you have a job
      • Be open to novel possibilities
        • Non-academic
        • Non-US
        • Post docs
        • One, two, or three year positions?
        • Academics are itinerants

Set Up Your Credential File

  • Cynthia Howard
  • $4.00/dossier (plus $5.00 for transcripts from registrar)
  • Three to five letters of recommendation
  • C.V.

Crafting your C.V.

  • Good white space
  • Not too many words
  • Clean horizontal lines
  • Clean vertical lines
  • Consistent intelligent font usage
  • Click here for one example, here for another.

Crafting Your Cover Letter

  • Yes, it’s longer than one page
    • You are too interesting to fit on one page
    • You are not interesting enough to spill onto page 3
    • This is a persuasive essay – you are making an argument
    • Fit in key details where you can, without too much elaboration
    • Have other people read it for typos, grammar, syntax, style
    • Tailor your template for each job
    • Make sure you take out all references to other job applications
  • Create a template
  • “Five (er, seven) paragraph essay”
    • Intro: why I want to work at your college/university: end with a ‘thesis statement’ if possible
    • P2: my academic/career path
    • P3: me and research/presentation/publications
    • P4 me and my dissertation (good paragraph)
    • P5: my teaching experience and philosophy (in brief)
    • P6: anything else cool/relevant that I have done
    • P7: conclusion: why I would be a great fit for your university (based on the foregoing)
    • Information must be true and current

Additional Items

  • Writing sample
    • Published article is best
    • Interesting conference presentation
    • Dissertation chapter
    • Teaching philosophy
      • Ugh
      • Consult with Center for Teaching and Learning
      • What you try to achieve in class and why
      • How you try to achieve it and why
      • Techniques that have worked for you and why
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