An honest cover letter
Thank you for skimming my desperate plea for a full-time job in your department. I’m still working on my dissertation, but before you trash my application please send me a request for additional materials, so my friends and family don’t think I’m a complete loser. My research interests include the latest words and phrases from journals you read, and I’ve babysat freshmen for five years now. Academic cover letters are supposed to run two full pages, so I apologize in advance for what comes next.
My dissertation goes into a lot of detail about literary theories in vogue right now, and I manage to talk about them in a way that only sort of puts you to sleep. Everything’s already been said about Shakespeare and most talented authors. So I’m focusing on a mix of obscure ones that are hard to read, and some interesting interpretations of movies I’ve watched on loop for months. At night, I cry myself to sleep over a glass of Yellow Tail wine in front of the Netflix drama selections, trying to decide on something to watch.
My teaching philosophy is an extension of my dissertation that my professors made me rewrite 12 times. If there’s a typo anywhere in my cover letter, you’ll find it here. Basically, I try to teach my students how to sound like Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park. If they can string together chaos theory and feminism in a 12-page paper about Marvel superheroes, I give them an A. If you want, you can just skip this paragraph because there’s a longer description of my teaching in all those other documents you asked for. Most of my students don’t hate me. Sometimes, I can even convince them to follow assignment guidelines.
Academic cover letters don’t let me talk about my hobbies, but I’m going to sneak some in by describing them as service to my institution. I teach yoga, aerobics, and self-defense classes at the university gym. Excuse me, I mean fitness center. Gym sounds so undergraduate. Hopefully, that conjures the image of an attractive young woman you’d like to know better, in a professional way of course.
I’d like to work at your university because of a bunch of things published on your website. Now, here’s a description of three faculty members in your program, to prove this isn’t a generic form letter. I’ve read at least one or two of their articles, and I think they’d make for good drinking buddies. Excuse me, I mean colleagues.
The fact that your university is located in the middle of nowhere doesn’t bother me at all. I’m a newlywed, and we don’t have kids yet. My spouse is perfectly happy working at Target for the rest of his life, and you have one of those. So you don’t need to worry about anyone convincing me not to take your pitiful salary. You could literally promise me room and board in a dorm, and I would accept that offer.
I’ve been reading your local newspapers, and found the story about coyotes attacking children and young adults fascinating. It reminded me of earlier articles about cougar and bear sightings near campus. You don’t have to worry about me. My husband and I adore wildlife. We understand that it will be our responsibility to invest in a small pistol and good locks.
We also don’t mind living in a dry county. Honestly, we can stock up on hard liquor when we visit my friend one state over. Her name’s Samantha, and she’s another young professor who will appreciate the company.
Finally, I’ve greatly admired the crop signs that recently began appearing when I pull up your town on Google Earth. I would welcome the chance to visit them in person, if you invite me on a campus visit.
In general, this corner of tornado alley sounds like an exciting place to live. The town has a lot going for it.
What I’m really looking for is a department that assigns me 3–4 courses and asks me to serve on 3 committees, and pays me enough to I can buy a fairly comfortable chair, which is where I’ll spend most of my time either grading, or writing a book that three dozen other professors will ask their library to buy.
You really don’t think I’m going to finish my dissertation on time, do you? Look at my CV, motherfuckers. I’ve already published part of it as an article in a journal you subscribe to. I uploaded a PDF copy of it like you asked, so you don’t have to look it up yourself.
I’ll be spending $1,000 to attend the conference where you plan to interview 10 people in a hotel suite. I’m looking forward to a sleepless weekend of job prep and grading, and waiting anxiously in hotel lobbies while caffeine turns my liver into limestone.
Please call me soon. My student loans have started to crest like a gigantic tidal wave. Last week, Sallie Mae sent me a postcard with a movie still from Titanic. You know, that scene when Kate Winslet drops DiCaprio’s frozen body into the ocean deep. The caption read, “See you in 9 months!” If I don’t land a job, I may have to sell one of my kidneys.
You can contact me literally any time, day or night. Send me an email. Text me. Friend me on Facebook. Like my Pinterest page. Follow me on Twitter. Post a note on my LinkedIn feed. I’ll even start an Instagram account if you tell me. Please just offer me an interview. Please? Thanks! Now I have to send off about 14 more applications before I fall into my nightly pit of despair and stare longingly at photos from high school, the last time when I felt like I had an actual future. Please call me. Bye.