An effective job document will employ varied sentence structures that do not revolve continuously around the words I, me, and my.

If you are reading this and on the market, pull up your job documents and do a universal search for each of these terms.  If they show up more than a handful of times, revise.

A lot of job documents boil down to this:

“I examine…I explore….I consider….I intervene….I develop…I argue….I conclude….I contribute….I have published…I am writing…I teach….I show….I prioritize….I would look forward to….”

Or this:

“My research….my dissertation….my first chapter….my second chapter….my methods…..my theoretical orientation….my argument….my conclusion….my publications….my next book project….my teaching….my pedagogical commitments….my classes….my students….my interests…”

Or a combination of the two.

When you submit job documents that use a monotonous series of I-me-my sentences, you come across as self-absorbed.  And your material is more boring than it needs to be.

The fixes are easy, and the payoff is big.

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I-Me-My — 4 Comments

  1. I did my documents with the Prof and after reading this post I realized that they are filled with these things! I wish this was pointed out when I sent my documents. Recommendations on how to fix these?

    • Read the post, “The Golden Rule of the Research Statement” for examples of sentences transformed from I-sentences to alternatives.

  2. I take it that a few “my statements” are fine given that there’s one in the example on the “Golden Rule” post. Any guidelines on how many is too many, or advice on how to eliminate them?

    Thanks for your great work.

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