Daniel Nexon has some interesting thoughts and advice on the whole job-seeking process, all of which would be well-taken by the novice job-seeker. I would particularly reiterate his point about not “build[ing] an imaginary life for yourself,” something that is admittedly hard to avoid when trying to tailor the cover letter to the particular institution you are applying to. Bear in mind, though, that cover letters—unlike notes on Christmas cards given to family members—are not going to be shared around among the recipients, so you don’t need to make them that original.
Dan Drezner, from whom I got the link, fairly cogently summarizes the state of the job market thusly:
The academic job market, as I’ve witnessed it, is a globally rational but locally capricious system. Some people will undoubtedly slip through the cracks—but on the whole, talent is recognized and rewarded.
Mind you, that equilibrium state takes a long while to arrive for many, and it’s one punctuated by frequent instances of blind panic as you attempt to get your various files in order.
Nice to see the Iraqis learning how to play political language games in an effort to rig the outcome of the charter referendum next Saturday. The master himself, Bill Clinton, would be proud of these linguistic gymnastics:
Maryam Reyes, a member of the Shiite alliance that controls a majority of seats in the assembly, ... said the assembly members had not changed election law, but only clarified the meaning of the word “voters” in the relevant passage. The legal passage in question states: “The general referendum will be successful and the draft constitution ratified if a majority of voters in Iraq approve and if two-thirds of voters in three or more governorates do not reject it.”
In their vote on Sunday, the Shiite and Kurdish members interpreted the law as follows: the constitution will pass if a majority of ballots are cast for it; it will fail if two-thirds of registered voters in three or more provinces vote against it. In other words, the lawmakers designated two different meanings for the word “voters” in one passage.
Neither the U.S. or the U.N. seems particularly happy with this change; both accounts suggest the decision will be “reconsidered” in the next day or two, as well it ought to be.