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Addressing flight-risk in cover letters?

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In our most recent "how can we help you?" thread, NotaFlightRisk writes: I have a question about tailoring cover letters. I'd like to convey in my cover letter that I'm not a flight risk but I'm unsure of the best way (or anyway besides outright saying this) to do that. Any advice? This is a great question, and I am curious to hear from people who have served on searches about what they think. But here are a few quick thoughts of my own... I have heard some people who have served on search committees at teaching institutions say that it can be helpful for candidates--especially candidates who might appear to be flight risks--to note in cover letter whether they have any special connection to the area (such as parents, other family, etc.). The idea here is that if a candidate really does have some special reason to want to live in the area, then that might be relevant to the committee evaluating whether the person is likely to stay if they are hired. However, I am not sure there is much that candidates can do beyond this to make a compelling case about their not being a flight risk. Here, in rough outline, is why I'm not sure there is a ton a cover letter can do here. I suspect a lot of candidates might think in their own minds that they are not a flight risk--that they would really be happy at Small University in a Tiny Town with a high (3/3 or 4/4) teaching load. So, one thing such a candidate might think about doing is saying in their cover letter, "I really want to be at a teaching-intensive liberal arts university." Suppose, though, that the candidate is coming from a highly-ranked research institution (e.g. Leiter top 20), they have quite a few publications in highly-ranked journals, and not a lot of teaching experience. Regardless of what this person might say in a cover letter, they still look like a potential flight risk based on their background and experience. Further, the people on the hiring. . .

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News source: The Philosophers' Cocoon

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