Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Applying for a community college job: Filling out the application

[This is post 4 of 9 in a series exploring how to apply for a full-time community college teaching position. See this page for links to all the posts in the series.]

When filling out the application, keep one thing in mind: make it easy to use. Multiple people, all with different backgrounds, will read over your application and search through it for evidence that you meet both the minimum and desirable qualifications of the job ad. They will be doing this with both your application and with the dozens of other applications they must read through. They'll probably be doing this late at night, close to a deadline, and all at once. Yours might be the first application they read or the eightieth. The harder you make it for these faculty to read through your application and learn about you as an educator, the less likely it is they'll rank you highly.

While ease of use is critical, length is not (unless specified in the job ad); there is no reason to try to fit all of your experience onto one page. In fact, doing so will likely harm your chances, as you can't possibly fit all relevant details onto a single page.

Your task in filling out the application is to provide documentation that you meet all the minimum and desirable qualifications of the job. You also need to provide evidence that you not only meet the requirements, but you excel at them. Therefore, cover all your prior experience in as much depth as possible; having a CV that is ten pages long is (generally) not a bad thing. The only thing to keep in mind is, as I said above, that you must keep your entire application (including CV) extremely easy to use. If your CV is ten pages long, it absolutely must be easy to flip through (gleaning all the key points of your experience) in only a few seconds. Thus, use headers, bulleted lists, and bolded fonts to highlight key points you want faculty to read.

Assume that faculty will spend about two to five minutes reading over your application before they rank it and move on to the next application. That's precious little time, and if they can't find experience relevant to the advertised qualifications in that time, they'll assume that you don't meet them and will rank you accordingly.

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