Thursday, October 4, 2007

Behold the power of MS Office!

So a number of us in the English department are setting off into the job market. We all know that this is an endeavor fraught with all sorts of hidden codes that we must negotiate in order to secure that lucrative 40K position at Northwest South Dakota Tech. (There are so many of these dang codes that one wonders to what degree the profession keeps them so that a handful of professors have the opportunity to write books about the subject. Of course, these books sell far more copies than my dissertation ever will.)

One of just many difficulties is the rise of digital communication in the job application process. Rather than simply stuffing everything into an envelope and addressing it to "Chair, Search Committee for Asst. Professor of Media, Culture, and Information Flows (?!)," we now get to email things directly to a person or, more likely, go through each university's individual application process at which point we upload some of our carefully workshopped documents. The electronic application is nice in the sense that we can send things later (a few minutes before a deadline) and that it is more likely that the "letter" will reach its addressee (Derrida notwithstanding).

A marked disadvantage of sending an emailed cover letter, however, is that you might lose the chance to make an impression on a potential employer through Emory's letterhead (something we have traditionally picked up from the department office and then printed onto). So today, instead of learning more about social networking, I decided to monkey around with the newest version of Microsoft Office. I've heard a lot of people complain about the interface, particularly of Word, but I find it a lot more intuitive than previous versions of the software. Of course, if you've been using previous iterations it becomes counterintuitive. But I'm getting used to it and love the amount of control that is presented to me on the front page. I like it quite a bit--especially since we students can get the entire Ultimate Office Suite for $60.

In any case, coupled with the Office tools and some guidelines from Emory's Office of Brand Management--where was this site in 2004 when I taught my class about branding? They even have documents that tell you which colors coordinate well with Emory blue (see page 15)--I was able to mock up something that looks remarkably like the English Department's letterhead. Start your letter where I indicate, and you're good to go. Just don't mess with the margins and make sure you don't go onto the third page (where the header will show up again [it's on every odd page; this seemed like a nice coercion to make me toe the line on length]).

There are slight differences between this and the official, printed-for-us letterhead. I won't bore you with the details (although I could be convinced to bare all in the comments), but I did stick to the published guidelines for stationary.

In any case, I hope that this will make it easier for all of us to get jobs. I'm surprised, honestly, that Emory hasn't come up with an interactive letterhead to take care of things like this, but until then we've got this. Feel free to point it out to other departments' students, since it is easily editable.

1 comment:

Wayne said...

I believe your experiences with the Microsoft product line might be outside of the norm. Yours is the first feedback that was firmly positive for the changes that come with the new version. The digital revolution has come at a price. What you have done for your colleagues is a great help. On a parallel tract, you have touched upon another necessity within the realm of instructional technology training, that of basic skills with productivity software. The new version plague reeks havoc on faculty, staff and students in their efforts to keep up with how to work the basic Microsoft Office tools. Even though training on these pieces of software is needed, finding funding for this training is another issue. In addition to providing assistance with and training on instructional technology, someone on campus should provide the same for basic productivity software (and computer hardware).