Cover letters again

For those of you who remember my bleg of a couple of weeks ago, I’ve now written a section on cover letters for the MGSA wiki Applying for Postdocs page. Those of you with opinions on the subject can go see if you agree with what I wrote. Thanks to everyone who wrote in with their take. It was illuminating for me, and I’m sure for a lot of others here.

Now, if only I had something interesting to say about research and teaching statements. Hint, hint.

10 thoughts on “Cover letters again

  1. Caveat: I have written, and by now submitted, all the parts of a postdoc application portfolio – but I have no idea, yet, of the efficacy of it all.

    That said, I found the research statement easy to write. I describe what I have done, what I didn’t get around to doing, and the various ideas I’ve had that were lodged in a corner to wait until post-thesis.

    The cover letters were painfully difficult to get to a non-trite tone, and I’m not even convinced that I succeeded at that. They really are very short, very informationless, and sketchy. I expect the rest of my portfolio to compensate, and was suffering while writing them at the sketchiness I couldn’t seem to break free of.

    And the teaching statement was pure pain. Difficult to write, even though I knew what I wanted to say in it. Each revision a COMPLETELY different text. I still have no idea how to write a good one, but I have one in my portfolio that says things I believe in.

  2. I’d have to vote against “blath”, I’m afraid. It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

  3. John, let’s face facts: it is definitely time to stop working on “blath.” I can’t find anyone else online using it for the meaning you intend. “Bleg” and “blawg,” while somewhat awful, are still a bit funny and clever (though in an awful way), whereas “blath” got to that party a little too late. It sounds like some unspeakable bodily function, or perhaps a traditional British food so disgusting that even the English have discontinued its use (though it might still find moderate popularity in Scandinavia. You never know what those people are going to eat), not something you would want to read.

    Not to mention that “thlog” is clearly superior (not that at I really advocate its use. What on earth is wrong with “math blog” and “post”?), and widespread use might make life awkward for the mathematician Jochen Blath.

  4. Why, just yesterday, I blathed all over my desk. It’s a good thing no one was looking – that would have been really embarrassing. Cleaning up was a heck of a chore, and the office still has a lingering stench.

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