In last week’s Job Offer Digest, one of my successful clients wrote this:
“Still, don’t kid yourself; working with Dr. Karen is hard! It forces you to take a long hard look at yourself, your work, and your presentation of your work. As she knows you ONLY through these documents, the feedback you get from her reflects what a committee will think when evaluating you. This reflection is sometimes harsh but, if you work with her, you have the benefit of improving and learning from each draft. Everything she says WILL make you better. As a result, I am coming out of this whole process more confident and secure in myself and my research.”
This is the crux of my work with clients: I know you only through the documents. So I’m an excellent stand-in for a search committee reader.
You may be blessed with excellent advisors who are doing their best to help you. I hope you are. But your advisors KNOW you. And that means that they are constantly – albeit unconsciously – filling in quantities of information/background/rationalizations as they read your cover letter and other documents. I don’t blame them for this. I did the same with my own Ph.D. students. I was not a brilliant advisor by any means.
But as The Professor Is In, I can do something different. I can look at your job documents with an objective eye. I have no information to add. I take everything exactly at face value. If you don’t write it, I don’t know it. If you don’t write it well, I don’t understand it. If you write too much, I am instantly bored.
I say all this not for marketing purposes, but for explanatory ones. Many people still wonder what it is I do, and why it has a value beyond what advisors can provide. This, I think, is the value. I subject your writing to the judgment of a perfect stranger. And that is a good thing, although not an easy one.