Customizing your job application documents for academic and industry roles will help you stand out as a candidate.
When an employer is searching for an ideal candidate, in addition to someone qualified they are also looking for someone who will excel in the role and thrive in their organization and team. As an applicant, you want to ensure the role reflects your interests and skills and aligns with your career goals. You also want to be sure that the organization’s core values resonate with you and your potential new manager and team’s dynamic are compatible with how you operate. While it is important to create readable, well-written job application documents, it is also imperative to tailor said documents to the potential employer. Let us tackle some ways of uncovering information and using it to personalize your job application. Please note that for North American job applications, resumes refer to a focused one to two-page document highlighting relevant qualifications and a curriculum vitae (CV) which is more typically used for faculty and research-oriented positions, is more comprehensive and is an exhaustive list of everything the jobseeker has achieved.
Applying for a faculty role in North America includes providing a CV that documents your overall experience, a cover letter demonstrating your fit and interest, a research statement outlining your current and future research program vision, a teaching statement and dossier, and a document outlining how you incorporate equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility (EDIA) principles in your research and teaching. A postdoctoral position requires sending a cover letter/email and CV.
You should also highlight key aspects from your information search in your cover letter, strategically weaving in those details. For example, in a faculty position, one may choose to highlight their lived experience teaching international students when applying for a position where this is a key requirement. Zachariah Heiden, a scholarly associate professor of chemistry at Washington State University has written about some of these aspects using cover letters, teaching and research statements as examples. For humanities-related examples, the HR commons Academic Job Market Support Network group is a great resource.