• By Cheryl Hyatt, Carrie Butler

Sharper than ever. Part Two in a Series

Create a distinguished application package

When writing a cover letter, be sure to write professionally and use correct grammar in an introduction and express specific interest in working for the college or university. Carefully review the expectations of the position to create an application package well aligned with the institution's ideas about a successful candidate.

Avoid industry jargon – spell things out – not all committee members are familiar with certain lingo. Have someone (or several individuals) proof read cover letters and CVs or resumes with an eye for grammatical errors, typos and spelling errors. Typos, in particular, may disqualify a candidate from even securing an interview.

When applying to positions at different institutions, be sure to change all institution names and titles to reflect the correct one! It's surprising how often candidates forget to change critical information in an email or cover letter, which can lead to embarrassment and rejection for even the most highly qualified candidates

Scrutinize online profiles.

It's imperative for any job seeker to carefully review his or her online presence and scrutinize what's discoverable online. It’s increasingly common for members of a search committee to run a Google, LinkedIN and Facebook search to see how a candidate presents him or herself. They will form impressions long before the interview, so for better or for worse, it's wise to understand and proactively manage the social profile as a natural extension of the professional reputation. Today's candidates are encouraged to ask a seasoned professional, a writer or an English student to review his or her online/social media image and make advised changes.

Just as important, make sure the email address used in the job search couldn't be considered offensive to an interviewer. It is best to use a personal email address when possible for communications related to a job search. Along similar lines, do not use a current employer’s letterhead for a cover letter. This should never be done – committees frown upon that.

Make it easy to connect

Don't underestimate the importance of making it easy to be reached by providing the right email and phone numbers and return voice mail immediately. If an interviewer doesn't connect quickly, they may move on to another applicant.

Competition for every position today is fierce. Successful candidates must sound and write professionally, error-free and think critically about why they are the right choice for the job.