Applying for a Professorship - Part 1

I am a member of so many search committees right now on account of being a woman and each committee needing at least 2 at our school. This means that I get to read lots and lots of applications for professorships for a German FH (University of Applied Sciences). And there are lots of, shall we say, iffy applications floating around.

I am going to start a series on this, maybe this will make my life easier.

Part 1: The application letter

A great idea is to check out the rules for the state in which the school is located. For example, we insist on 5 years work experience with 3 outside of university, experience in teaching, a degree (you would be surprised at the number of people without degrees applying for professorships!), and a proven research and publication record.

Don't make us hunt - list each of these on a separate page, perhaps making an overview. Do include information on your foreign experience and any curriculum building or gender-related projects you have done. Don't include the contents of every course you ever took in your life. It's all right to list a few hobbies, but don't go into detail on your piano teaching (unless you are applying for a professorship in piano teaching!).

Make sure your information is correct. I have seen everything from mistyped email addresses to people thinking they had a doctorate when all they had was a dottore from Italy (a bachelor's degree). Make sure the dates in your application match the ones on your letters of reference.

The address that you give us should be valid for the next few months. If you move, file a forwarding address with the post office and with us. Some not-so-amusing stories:

We gathered for a talk by a prospective candidate earlier this week. The committee was there, and about 10 students (although it was already evening). The candidate had been invited by regular mail 3 weeks earlier. He didn't show. We called around and discovered that he had been expecting us to invite him by email. So he didn't bother telling us that he had moved - he didn't receive the invitation. And now he is out of a chance at a professorship, there will be no second chance in this case.

A colleague told the story of a search committee in the same situation at the FH in X. All were assembled, but no candidate. They got a call that he was having trouble finding the school.
- Where are you? they asked.
- I'm at the train station.
- Well, hop on any tram you see going from left to right, we are just 4 stations down.
- There is no tram here.
- What station are you at exactly?
Turned out he was in Neu-X, a town with a similar name, but about 200 km away. Advice: check on a map where the school is located that you are applying to.
Spell-check your application. It gets tiring to see that people are not willing to re-read what they submit.

Do not send boxes and boxes of printed material unless we ask you to.

On the other hand, don't just send us a link to your web page and leave it at that. We don't have Internet in the room where we read the applications, and the applications are not allowed out of the room.

Since in Germany it is usual to include a picture, do have a serious one made. Vacation pictures are discouraged. Yes, it is interesting to know what a prospective colleague looks like in a bathing suit. But this will not get you on the short list, even if you are very good looking.

Avoid coffee stains on your materials.

Don't put all of your pages in separate plastic sleeves in it's own big folder. This does not fit in our filing system, and should you make the list, it is a pain in the backend to have to dig each of the pages out for filing in final paperwork.

Coming topics: How to survive the talk - What not to do when meeting with the committee - Why does it take so long for them to let me know what is happening. I will include additional topics on request - somehow I have 200 readers a day currently, but no one writes comments!

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