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I am preparing material for the academic job market and I would like to receive feedback from peers on my cover letter.

Additionally to the traditional personal contacts, I have thought about online forums as a possible location, but have not been able to find any that seem good. I am also not interested in websites that offer consultation from professionals in return for money.

How would you advise I go about getting such feedback?

Unfortunately, not everybody works in big departments or in universities with staff of the human resource management trained for this purpose. Also, it is the end of June: in some countries (in my case Sweden) this means the vacation period is started and it is taken very seriously (vacation=no working activity of any type, besides for doctorate students).

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    I really don't understand why this question was closed: it's not a shopping question, it's wondering whether a general resource exists. – jakebeal Jun 22 '15 at 15:26
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    @jakebeal The question seems sort of reasonable as is, but right now it seems like it is so broad the answer will just be: show it to people you trust. (Or ask for specific advice here, e.g., academia.stackexchange.com/q/13993/19607 ) – Kimball Jun 23 '15 at 14:48
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    Luca, that's only my opinion, I don't know what other people will think. But is there a reason you can't show a draft to your colleagues (hopefully somewhat senior rather than actual "peers"), and ask for feedback? Or is there some specific aspect of your cover letter that you need advice on? – Kimball Jun 23 '15 at 15:55
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    This is a very small university and most of the scholars and staff is leaving on vacation right now (and they are Swedes, so vacation means vacation). – Fuca26 Jun 23 '15 at 16:02
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    One quick comment: you will likely get better advice from people have have sat on the other side of the table (in the hiring committee). These may or may not be your peers. Also, I do feel that personal contacts rather than anonymous internet folks would be better (for example they can point out stuff that you should put in your cover letter, but you forgot; random guy will not know that information about you). – Willie Wong Jun 24 '15 at 10:26
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The most German universities have career service departments for questions like this. If this is uncommon in Sweden, I agree with Kimballs comment: show it to people you trust.

In addition: the Internet is full of resources like guides and tips. Just be aware of possible cultural differences that may appear between countries. A guide targeting to US audience could suggest or advice elements that could count as "no gos" in other cultures. If you want to check your cover letter against some online guide I suggest you to search one in Swedish that considers the national or cultural specialties.

  • I have found very many of such sources, and have written the cover letter. Now that it is written down, I need some feedback. Unfortunately the uni is practically closed (even if the buildings are open the staff--included other researchers--are now on vacation). – Fuca26 Jul 1 '15 at 12:04
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A few years after my question and some experience more, I still have mixed feelings about this topic. I am convinced that, for those researchers who come from small research environments like myself, it is extremely hard to receive constructive feedback on career paths and strategies to reach your own goal. While in a large university you have career advisers and hr experts that help you in pursuing your goals (e.g. indeed, by providing you feedback on a cover letter for that amazing job opportunity you are applying to), smaller institute naturally fall behind with this respect.

As the world does not end there, and researchers are extremely competitive and dedicated people who seldom give up, there is a number of ways to go. Personally, now I take any chance I have to network; I construct a database of researchers that I can reasonably say to know personally--at least a bit--and whom I can contact in case of any need, may that be a possible collaboration or request of some feedback on research grants applications or cover letters. To expand at most my research network I go beyond conferences networking and current co-workers: I use research platforms (such as Researchgate or Linkedin) to contact new people, I contact researchers that cited my work (e.g. wishing to keep in touch), I invite people to present a study in my small research institute, etc...all of this "bonding social capital" may help you to partially fill a number of gaps that small research institutes suffer, compared to greater institutes.

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