Don’t Send a Weird Application

Once again, I wish I didn’t have to write this post.  But I have seen these applications, so, evidently, people believe they are a good idea.  So here it is: Don’t do anything weird in your application.

What constitutes “weird”?  This encompasses a broad range of… let’s call them “unique” decisions.  Below are some examples.

Don’t include a page of your woodworking activities.  This is an application we received and the evaluators looked over with amazement.  Three of the evaluators said, “No.” One said, “I dunno, they seem like they might be an interesting, unique person.”  When in doubt, aim for zero.

Don’t include a copy of your black belt certificate.  This can be a single line on your CV under outside activities, but no one needs or wants official documentation of this achievement. 

Why are these examples ‘weird’? They are atypical for veterinary medicine. If you are interested in joining this profession (or more advanced education and specializing), you need to indicate you have a knowledge of the profession and what it means to be a professional. You can do whatever you want on your own time. But, when you are at school or work, you are expected to be a professional. Acting like one in your application is an important step.

You may think it is relevant to the position. However, sending it marks you as someone who does not know the social conventions of veterinary medicine.  Is such a person going to be good working with other veterinary academics? Maybe, but it’s risky- why chance it when there are so many other good candidates?

And therein lies the rub.  The problem with “weird” applications ISN’T that they highlight your personality or unique characteristics of what you can bring to a position.  The problem is that they indicate you do not have appropriate social awareness of what this profession does, is about, or finds acceptable. That lack of awareness indicates that you Probably Aren’t One Of Us.  So… just…. Don’t. If you’re unsure, ask your mentors, don’t go off the rails doing your own thing.

4 comments on “Don’t Send a Weird Application

  1. -

    Whatever you do, avoid “red flags”. Think about what other people might think when they read your application. When in doubt, ask your mentors.

    • - Post author

      Good point about red flags! Unfortunately, I think it’s possible applicants a lot of the time don’t know what these are- they think the things are GOOD. So I agree, check with your mentors!

  2. -

    Can you clarify at which point the extracurriculars become “weird”? Specifically on vet school applications, is it ever appropriate to mentuon the type of things you spoke about above?

    • - Post author

      It’s a good question! I recommend having an extracurriculars section of your CV (mine is at the end right before References) and you can put almost anything in that section. Maybe if you put “Big Game Hunting” that may put off some people. If you volunteer for a political organization I probably wouldn’t include that, given how polarizing politics can be. But other than something offensive, I can’t think of anything in your extracurriculars section not to include. I mean don’t send in a copy of the dance award you got last year. Don’t include a pressed flower in the packet. I’m thinking more of things you would add to a submission, not something under the extracurriculars section of the CV. I hope that helps clarify!

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