How do I best reapply to a job I really want ?
January 16, 2008 12:16 PM   Subscribe

Last October, I applied for a library job that I really want. In December, they sent me a nice letter saying they weren't hiring anyone right then, but might relist it in 2008, and if they did, please reapply. (There are some comments that suggest they liked my application quite a bit, but that might just have been a pleasant form letter.) They've now relisted the job: how do I put my best foot forward on the reapplication?

Background: I'm a recently degreed librarian, looking for a MLIS requiring library job (I've been working as a paraprofessional since 2000.) This job is very much in my area of interest, and has a lot of other things going for it. I'm in Minnesota and so is the job, which is why I'm not sure whether the "not filling this right now" letter was a "please, please reapply, we really wanted you" or whether it was pleasantness said to everyone. (I'm a transplant: traditional Minnesotan understated politeness is something I'm not totally fluent in.)

I'm comfortable doing cover letters and all, but this situation is puzzling me a bit. My specific questions:

1) What's the best non-clunky and non-cheesy way to say "Hi, I'm reapplying, remember me!" that is neither stilted nor flippant? Does "I'm writing to express my ongoing strong interest in [full job title]. I applied last October and was encouraged to reapply if it were reposted." work? It feels really flat and insufficiently enthusiastic to me.

2) Obviously, I'm talking about mostly the same material: how much should I try to vary my initial cover letter? For anyone who's done hiring in this situation, did anything catch your eye the second time around? Turn you off?

3) I'm working for the month of January as a temporary librarian in very much the same kind of job I'm applying for (while the person normally in it is teaching elsewhere.) I'm inclined to put this (new to them) information right after my intro paragraph, rather than chronologically in the cover letter. Any reason I shouldn't?

4) This temporary job has had me working on a number of database guides that are very relevant to the job I'm applying for. I'd like to mention them in the cover letter, but am unsure how best to provide pointers (they don't have easy URLs). I'm leaning towards mentioning which guides, and assuming librarians can figure out how to find them, given the name of the school they're at, but should I/could I be more specific in a useful way?

5) My current resume is 1 page, but doesn't include this temporary job. It does include two non-library but geeky-skill related jobs (relevant to what I'm applying for.) Should I condense the non-library jobs to a single line or 1 sentence description, and keep the resume to one page, or is it okay to go to 2 pages? (The cover letter will almost certainly be 2 pages.)

Any other relevant advice is also quite welcome. Thank you!
posted by modernhypatia to Work & Money (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm a librarian what hires people, so here's my two cents:

1) In your intro paragraph, mention how happy/pleased/excited you were to see the position reposted. If you have any names from the previous hiring committee, use them here ("As suggested by Hershal P. Dewey, I would like to reapply for the position now that it has been repoened..")

2) Rephrase. I can tell when cover letters are taken from some sort of boiler plate list of skills or interests.

3) Do it. "Over the past month, I have been further developing my skills by working as Similar Job for Other Library."

4) Yeah, skip URLs in your cover letter. Mention that you have been working on X and Y databases and that you can provide links to them if the committee desires. This encourages them to get back in touch with you.

5) I stop reading cover letters after the first page. If you have not wowed me by then, why should I keep reading? I have a huge stack of resumes and cover letters just like yours. A longer resume is better, imo, where you can list out each pertinent skill or responsibility under the job title. Don't make me read your work history twice!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:48 PM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Agreed with the above.
In addition...You might also want to insert a quick mention that you were invited to reapply if the job was re-listed.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:53 PM on January 16, 2008

I am not sure what to recommend about #1 but I think you highlighted it the best. It is an awkward position.

Play up anything new since last year in your cover letter and resume. Did you take any courses or things like that?

Definitely hightlight the new work you are doing, especially if it is relevant. This shows that you probably could do the job and that it is the type of work you are interested in. I keep my resume chronological but use my cover letter to highlight aspects of my previous work that overlaps with the job requirements. If they are looking for collection development, teaching and web development, then I gear my paragraphs around them to indicate I have a background in each area. I also structure the points in my resume along those lines. No use talking about XHTML when the posting does not even ask for creating simple web pages.

If the position states that you will create and develop guides, maybe try including a colour copy of some of the work you have done. If the guides are too long, then just the first page. This has the advantage of also hopefully having the url on the bottom of the print out. I done this and seen this done may times.

Don't limit non-librarian work too much, it is still be very relevant. You may have to think a bit harder about what skill sets were required with those jobs, but most likely they are all applicable.

I tend to be of the camp that when it comes to a resume for a profession, it is better to go longer instead of shorter. Just my opinion. Here is a breakdown of what I have in my resume: contact info (also in a footer on each page of resume and cover letter), summary of skills as they apply to the posting (4-5 bullets), related/recent work experience, committee work (I am active with my provincial library assoc.), education, recent professional development, recent classes I have tought (I tend to apply for positions that have a teaching component), and finally referneces. I have also seen people who are applying for web development heavy positions list a webliography of work they have done with web addresses.

Just my thoughts, your mileage may vary. Good luck.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 12:58 PM on January 16, 2008

Oh, and I totally agree with robo, definitely do everything in your power to keep the cover to one page.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 1:08 PM on January 16, 2008

I've been in this position (having to put off hiring someone and then re-listing the position later) but as the hirer not the applicant so here's my take:

Their letter to you may well have been a pleasant form letter sent to everyone, but that's no reason not to go ahead and apply for a job you're interested in. Secondly, if you were a strong candidate the first time around (and it sounds like you probably are) they'll remember your name especially given the short time between now and October. One of the biggest revelations about being the hirer and not the job applicant was how 95% of applications all blended together in one blur, but the 5% that stood out (whether due to qualifications or interesting cover letter or whatever) really stuck in my mind. So if you're a strong candidate they'll remember you and go "Here's modernhypatia again"

1) What's the best non-clunky and non-cheesy way to say "Hi, I'm reapplying, remember me!"...

Don't worry about sounding insufficiently enthusiastic. The text you wrote sounds fine. (Though I personally would remove the word "ongoing" but that's just a stylistic personal preference)

2) much should I try to vary my initial cover letter? ...
Don't worry about making it substantively different. If you're creative enough to do it, great, but its not necessary. When I received duplicate applications for unfilled positions I remembered the person not the text in the cover letter (unless it was purposefully memorable due to awkward grammar or clever language or something) However, the reason to make it different would be to bring up the experience you talk about in Q#3. Say something early on in the cover letter along the lines of "Since my October application I have had the opportunity to work as a temporary librarian, doing blah blah blah. I believe this gives me valuable experience that makes me well suited (or uniquely suited if you feel that's the case) for the position."

I don't have experience with database guides so I'll pass on Q4

5) Two page vs one page
I don't know how it goes for librarians, but in my world (Univ. based Social Science Research) I'd rather see a one page cover letter and a two page resume. Let your resume be the laundry list of things you've done and use your cover letter to highlight things that make you unique. The temporary librarian position sounds like a strong point, highlight a few things like that in your cover letter. Use the cover letter to get people excited about you and your skills. Once they're interested the resume can fill in more specifics. If you do a 2 page resume try to keep the two pages somewhat balanced. In other words space things out creatively so that page 2 has enough text to fill up at least a third of the page (meanwhile keeping page 1 looking nice.)

Good luck with it.
posted by cptspalding at 1:28 PM on January 16, 2008

Walk in the front door with big glasses on and say, "I'm BACK, bitches!"

Or... make some phone calls and try to do some networking. The more they remember your name and what a nice person you are, the better. Resume's be damned.
posted by matty at 2:29 PM on January 16, 2008

Seconding matty's suggestion - the phone call that is.
It doesn't hurt to make a polite, quick phone call and follow up with a resume/cover letter.

You want to stand out of the crowd. As long as you are brief and polite on the phone, you will come across as motivated and not pushy. Ask to speak to the person who signed the letter.

Prepare and pratice from script if you have to - just don't sound like you are reading from it! Be super friendly and super confident. Not suck-upy and gushy, and not feeble like they are doing you a favour by talking to you. Confident. Like when you a making plans with a good friend who you haven't seen in a long time. When you speak on the phone stand up or sit up straight, and smile when you talk.

On the phone you can say "I will send my resume in a few days, if that's OK" - so this way they will know to expect communication from you and because of the phone call, they will definitely remember you.

Go get 'em tiger!
posted by bitteroldman at 4:39 PM on January 16, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all very much! There are a lot of great comments and ideas here (and it's good to be reassured I was mostly on the right track.) Particular thanks to robocop is bleeding: I was hoping that someone with library hiring experience might chime in.
posted by modernhypatia at 6:53 PM on January 17, 2008

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