Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cover Letter Contest: The Vote

Thanks to all who submitted entries to The Cover Letter contest. Some of these were very memorable examples of the CL genre. I apologize if I didn't post yours; I read and appreciated all entries, but think I've probably posted enough (for now). I feel that it is time to VOTE.

Before you vote, however, I think it is important to mention that at least 99.42% of real cover letters that accompany applications for tenure-track positions* are professional, inoffensive letters; it is the others that are much more memorable**, and it is these we celebrate in this 'contest'.

Those who look at entitled, patronizing, and/or obnoxious cover letters as a symptom of all that is corrupt about academia should not focus on these outliers. It is a bit of a leap to assume that someone writing an egomaniacal (or whatever) CL will be offered a job just because they say they are so awesome. Also, I believe that at least some of the apparently obnoxious letters were actually written by well-meaning people who just didn't know how to write a letter; maybe they were told to "sell" themselves in the letter, and didn't know how to do this in a non-obnoxious way.

* but, alas, many more cover letters sent to potential postdoc supervisors are strange and/or obnoxious.

** I still remember one from >15 years ago that stated that the applicant had given "countless" presentations at conferences; we all counted, of course. He had given 16. Impressive, perhaps, but a number that could be easily counted by most hiring committee members. I remember almost nothing else about that search.

In any case, it is time now to vote for your favorite. A key is provided below, with numbers keyed to entries. Vote for your favorite cover letter, using the number associated with the relevant entry. (I have not included the last entry because it was just a copy of something that has appeared elsewhere.)

1: Dec 23, 2011: letter from a nanoherpetologist, containing the phrase "A copy of my press releases.." (is available on request)

2: Dec 26, 2011: Dear Search Committee Chair. This one sparked a useful discussion of whether it is OK to address such a letter in a generic way.

3: Dec 27, 2011: "Herewith I submit to you my application materials thereof.."

4: Dec 28, 2011: Clueless Cover Letter.

5: Dec 29, 2011: I Plan To Collaborate With You

6: Dec 30, 2011: I Would Consider Being a Postdoc in Your Lab

7: Jan 02, 2012: I Am Exactly What You Are Looking For

8: Jan 03, 2012: I Can Tell You About My Vision

9: Jan 04, 2012: Sent From My iPhone

10: Jan 05, 2012: Your Research is Systematic and Penetrating

11: Jan 09, 2012: I Really Really Want To Work For You Now

(There seems to be a problem with the voting for CL #11. The html code looks fine, so instead of fixing the main poll, I have added separate poll for 11. If you want to vote for #11, vote in the green poll in the lower box.)

Which was your favorite Cover Letter entry?

pollcode.com free polls 

Vote here for Cover Letter 11
none of the above
pollcode.com free polls 


Unknown said...

I looked at the poll, and wondered why the 2nd letter got no votes, so i went to have another look. I have to agree that although it made me laugh, and the author said too much, it was not a letter that would have me deleting the person from my list of potential colleagues. Shame, the job market is really baffling and the help you receive from your advisor may not be interpreted well (or might just be non-existant). I have really enjoyed this series of posts - thanks!

DRo said...

For me it was a tie between #7 and #9, but I voted for #7.
Thanks for the laughs.

Anonymous said...

Aw, The Vote - this means that the best thing about the holiday season is drawing to a close.... :(

I noticed that you can vote for #11, but there's no #11 showing up on the results page...? Maybe some polling glitch?

Anonymous said...

I can't seem to vote for no. 11 (my personal favourite)! The poll results only show 1-10.

Anonymous said...

All the cover letters are amusing and enjoyable. I felt, # 11 was deceptively simple and close to reality. We always have preferences among the available choices. We really really want to get the best. But, when we don't get that, we would love to go for the ones that are next to best. This has been conveyed well in this cover-letter in an amusing way. Whenever I apply for something, I would always try to convey that 'I'm very serious about this' and that 'I badly want to work with you' or 'I have heard that you are the best' and so on. The truth though is 'among the options available, .... '.

mandarin.orange said...

Can we not vote for the "the time is ripe for me to ascend" one? That was my favorite.