The Worst Job Letter Ever

The worst job letter ever written:

My commitment to higher education extends to my service activities. I am very active in XXXXX National Organization, currently serving on its XXXXX and XXXXX Committees and as the elected XXXXX Representative for [Public Research University], where it is my job to encourage student involvement in the organization. I also served as the student representative to my department’s XXXXX and XXXXX
Committees and to the College of XXXXX’s XXXXX Committee. My service activities cover commitments as serious as my appointment to XXXXX National Organization’s XXXXX Committee and as fun as organizing and leading the XXXXX activity and hosting XXXXX at last year’s XXXXX Meeting.

[This long para on service is the last nail in the coffin of this candidate’s identity as insecure, overly humble, and excessively eager to serve.  Service does not get anyone a job.  National level service can be given one sentence and no more; campus level service none.  This much on service raises a major red flag that the candidate will be one of those young female hires who can’t say no, expends herself on service, doesn’t get publishing done, and gets turned down at tenure.   “as serious as…. as fun as….” is utterly inappropriate for a job letter, and juvenilizes and genders the candidate as a frivolous female.]

Of course, my job letter was about 1500 times worse, but this one is bad, too. The embarrassment I still experience over my job letter is intense. And it has been over 3 years since I used it. Why is it that one only understands why some letters suck after serving on a hiring committee and not while one desperately needs this knowledge?

3 thoughts on “The Worst Job Letter Ever”

  1. Right. Even being on one search committee improves your own cover letter and cv. You can’t see it from the perspective of the search committee until you have experience on that side of the table. The same for peer-reviewing articles. All of a sudden, you see what it means to have to read someone else’s work.


  2. For balance and as a public service, you might post an example of what you see as a good, polished, and effective cover letter. (No obligation, of course. Your blog, your rules.)


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