procrastinatory post: CV writing is hard

amy posted this March 9th, 2008 | filed under: library skül, ranting | 2 comments »

thanks to some great folks i’ve met in the twittersphere, i’ve been able to check out what other soon-to-be MLISed people are doing CV-wise. both, like me, are looking at working in academia, and also like me, are technologically-inclined (though i really know very little next to them – i like what Meredith calls herself – a “cut-and-paste techie”). and all three of us have radically different CVs – both in appearance and content.

but is that a bad thing?

mine has a funky layout because i used to work in newspapers and can remake the scoreboard page between deadlines (which involves a ton of agate type and shmooshing text until it’s barely readable), so i guess i like people to know that i can do that. it also has only three bullet points detailing responsibilities after each job i’ve had. but i’ve had a lot of jobs (in my former life in publishing), and if i do 8-10 bullet points, the CV will be way too long for someone just starting their academic career.

but if i want to present myself as someone who loves tech and sees how it can help an academic library reach out to students and faculty, what format should i be using? can i be funky because i’m applying for emerging tech positions and thus want to project an aura of “i’m so cool and with it” (do people even say that anymore?) or do i go the academic-CVs-must-look-a-certain-way in a bid not to freak anyone out?

and cover letters… my GAWD cover letters. i am getting pwned by cover letters. i used to think they were no big deal.

Dear Señor Withjob Iwant,
I would like to apply for position A because I can do X, Y, and Z. I’m a hard-worker and a quick-learner and thrive in fast-paced environments.
I am eager to talk to you about the possibilities at working at AnywhereThatWillPay Inc. and look forward to our meeting.

Best,
Howdid I. Evergetajob
aka amy

then i found this post over at Caveat Lector

The question you are trying to answer in your cover letter to me is not “Why are you awesome?” It is triply not “What do you want?” I don’t care what you want right now. (I will care once I decide to interview you, but I’m not there yet if I’m just staring at your application package.) The questions you are trying to answer are “Why should I hire you? How will you solve my problems?” You had better speak compellingly to that, and “I am awesome!” is not a compelling answer by itself. How do you know whom I want to hire, and what my problems are? I told you in the job description I wrote. This is why your cover letter needs to repeat as many of my buzzwords as possible.

In other words, your cover letter is all about me. No, that doesn’t seem quite fair, but it’s what will get you an interview. Look, I’ll tell you a secret, okay? I’ve been on search committees. The way we do the first cut on applications is to sit around a table with a grid in front of us. Across the top of the grid is a list of the skills we asked for in the job description. Down the left is a list of applicant names. We sit there and we check off boxes. If you don’t have enough boxes checked when we’re done, you’re chucked. Get it now?

yowsa. back to the drawing board for moi…


2 Comments on “procrastinatory post: CV writing is hard”

  1. 1 Jason Puckett said at 9:51 am on March 11th, 2008:

    I think that’s good advice about cover letters, and something I don’t do enough of when I’m writing mine. The absolute best thing I have done to prepare for professional job hunting has been to serve on search committees. Our HR director is brilliant, and serving on committees with her has taught me a hell of a lot about how librarians get hired. (It’s also taught me not to take rejections personally. You never know what the rest of the pool looks like, and it only takes one small thing to tip the balance in favor of one candidate or another.)

  2. 2 in forming thoughts » Blog Archive » your privacy is in the way of my ads said at 11:22 pm on August 10th, 2011:

    […] social media a lot. A LOT. i have talked and blogged about how i fully believe that twitter got me my first job. and how it has helped me meet awesome folk. and how it inspires me daily. so i understand social […]


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