You Have To Show Them You Are Passionate
The first few times I applied for a job, I had a colleague read over my applications. The colleague was an established figure in academia and was involved in the hiring of academics at their institution. The advice they gave me was that I had to show my passion for the position I was applying for, especially since I was trying to skip a post-doctoral position and bee-line directly into a lecturer position. Now, passion is not everything (and I don’t think anyone hires someone just becuase they’re passionate), but I think it was an integral part of getting to the interview stage.
How I Expressed Passion In My Applications
CVs are pretty dull to read. I tried to inject my own passion in them by highlighting all the extra stuff I was doing around my passions. Society involvement, awards, community activity, and so forth. But where I really brought out my passion was in my cover letter. Every sentence was worked and reworked to highlight just how excited and motivated I was to be working psychology. That I had thoroughly enjoyed every experience thus far and was anxious to continue. Now, this was not a lie. I love what I do. But the point is that I used my cover letter to express that excitement and dedication.
Cover Letters vs CVs
I guess this is as good of a place as any to briefly talk about how I distinguished my cover letter from my CV. All too often cover letters read like mini-CVs: “Here are the key lines of my CV related to this job”. But another colleague of mine recommended using the CV to spell out the connection between the lines in my CV or, as they put it “your cover letter should read between the lines of your CV for the hiring panel”. As such, my cover letters rarely mentioned content that was in my CV, but rather, spoke about what I had been doing in the different roles listed in my CV and how they were interconnected. How my research was feeding into my teaching, how my passion for supervision and disappointment in ECR support (at least, the ECR support available to myself) pushed me to take on roles where I could to try and provide ECR support for others or to support those who had the means to provide ECR support. This kind of qualitative detail just doesn’t come across in a CV. But it works well in a cover letter and provides many opportunities to bring out your passion.
I think almost every interview I had opened with “please tell us a bit about yourself and your passion” or something to that effect. In all my post-interview discussions with the hiring committee (usually about why I was unsuccessful), I was praised for the passion I had expressed. So whether or not this is something that the hiring panels were looking for, it was certainly something they were taking notice of. So how did I express this passion in the interview? I was emotive, I was excited, and I was confident. Most of the interviews I went for involved a presentation of my research to date and, for me, that was where I expressed my passion the most. As academics, I don’t think we spend much time considering how we present. But tonality, speed of delivery, movement, the rhythm with which we talk, eye-contact, humour, and the level of casualness all influence how a presentation is received. The combination of these things that work best for one person differs to the next.
Have Your Say
I hope you guys have found this interesting and, perhaps, found a new idea or two. Use the comment box below to suggest ways that you bring passion into your applications and interviews!