For the record, adorability is a transferable skill

For the record, adorability is a transferable skill

ITEM: I sent off my two job applications and now have an interview for Job #1 this week! Also I contacted someone who’d worked for the organisation involved with Job #2 who said that  even if I didn’t get shortlisted, I should contact hir anyway. I am feeling pretty chipper about all of this, and also wondering if I applied for Job #1 in too much of a panic as it’s a bit below my abilities; but I will go to the interview anyway and see what happens.

(NB. This, btw, is why I’m keeping my identity as Dr Piglet for now rather than Dr Realname, so I can actually talk about this stuff to a wider audience).

So I thought I’d write up a couple of notes on what I’d learnt from writing the applications in case other escaping academics found them useful (although Karen Kelsky thinks we will all be making up our own jobs soon, which may be true in a couple of years but for now I’m getting on with this).

Both jobs asked for a CV, details of how I’d meet the ‘essential requirements’, and a short statement on why I wanted the job. Job#1 is as part of a university (possibly alt-ac although I would prefer not to think of it that way) so wanted a lot more detail than most private sector jobs do. Fairly obviously, once I’d written the first application it was much easier to do the second as I had a clearer idea of what I was doing, and also a bunch of material to copypasta from one to t’other. 

CV: Fairly straightforward. One of the advantages of having done a variety of postdoctoral jobs is that I could describe them in terms of project management, skills, knowledge and so forth, rather than the brutalist “and this is what I published, and this is how much money I raised” of academic CVs. I hacked out anything unrelated to the jobs themselves – so difficult when I’m accustomed to including all and everything that might possibly be relevant – and this included publications. For both jobs I included a short section of ‘selected publications’ (including both academic and non-academic writing) to show that I can write fancy like.

Essential requirements: Also reasonably straightforward. My career advisor friend gave me excellent advice in that, for each point, I should give solid detailed examples and show, where possible, what I’d learnt from this – for example:

“I have extensive experience in rooting for truffles. In July-August 2012 I rooted for white truffles in the Dordogne region of France as part of my research project “Truffles are Brilliant”, funded by Gordon Ramsey; and found 5 truffles over the course of my work. Through this I learnt about the soil conditions that truffles are found in, and the physical process of excavating truffles with my snout”.

Supporting statement: OH JEEBUS – this was so difficult. In person/pig I am pretty outgoing and am happy to stand up and lecture (*cough* show off *cough*) to hundreds of people; but in writing I kept veering away from describing myself in glowing terms. NO NO NO said career advisor friend, you must absolutely sell yourself as being the right person for this job. Zie advised that I start off with some punchy sentences describing where I was now, then gave details about why I specifically wanted the job (“Imagine you’re describing it to me in the pub – be honest! Don’t use jargon!”). Because it’s a career-changy type of thing *wavy hands* zie recommended talking specifically about why I wanted to move into the area where the jobs were,  how various bits of my previous experience shaped that thinking; and what I specifically would bring to the role. Par example:

“I was awarded my PhD in ‘Porcine Studies’ in 2010, and have since been working as a teacher in Big Pig Studies. I also undertake voluntary work at the local zoo. I am highly skilled in Pigology, student support, and communication.

I am applying for the role of Hedgehog Mentor as I would like to move into a role where I can work more closely with hedgehogs whilst continuing to develop my support skills. During my work as a lecturer I have found it satisfying to be able to provide pastoral support and care for my students. In my zoo voluntary work I have worked with a variety of pigs including boars, guinea-pigs and hedgehogs, and believe that this wider experience will help to bring a more rounded view to the hedgehog perspective that this role requires.”

and so forth. So we will see! In the meantime I still have my book to write, plus ‘Jurassic Park’ is on TV shortly which will destroy any hope of productivity for the next few hours.