One of the biggest mistakes candidates for university jobs make is forgetting that the job search is not really about them. When you are responding to job ads, or participating in an interview, the important thing is not to show the hiring manager how wonderful you are, but to show him or her the wonderful things you can do for the institution.
In one interview, a candidate responded to the question of why she wanted to work at XYZ University by saying, “I need a job, and you have one available.” At that point she had told the hiring managers everything they needed to know about her—to whit, that she wasn’t really interested in working for XYZ University.
Do your research. Find out everything you can about the institution. Explore the webpage, read newspaper articles, and determine what it is that makes you the best person for the job. Then take every opportunity you can to express what YOU can do for the institution.
In your cover letter, point out why you are a perfect match and how you can help the university. During your interview, when you are asked why you want this particular job, take the opportunity to describe how you are the perfect one to resolve their issue with widgets or wockets. At all times make it clear that you can do great things for the institution, rather than talking about what you think the institution can do for you. “My experience in creating dynamic web-based classes will benefit you in your effort to create an online university” as opposed to, “I’ve always wanted to work for an online university!”
In your thank you letter, remind the hiring manager of how your experience can help the university with their challenges. Remember, it’s NOT all about you.
Dindy Robinson is the Director of Compensation at Texas Christian University.
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