In one of my graduate seminars in literature, a classmate had a brief conflict with the professor and walked out of the room in a huff. The classmate was very idiosyncratic and when he had cleared the doorway, the professor muttered under his breath, “Good lord, if you’re too weird for English, you’re just too weird.” After class, some of us who heard the comment pondered (tongue in cheek, of course) if this should become the unofficial motto of our department, perhaps translated into Latin.
Career advisers often insist that everyone’s résumé should include a personal motto, or at least some sort of career goal. Given the state of hiring, I suppose “To become a person with a job” might be a common enough goal. I have seen too many times “To acquire a tenure-track position in x discipline at an institution that values excellence in teaching.” Perhaps we should ask for more realistic and revealing goals and mottoes? “To become a university president as quickly as possible.” “To gain tenure and do whatever I wish.”
Do you think including “career goals” or personal mottoes on the résumé is helpful? If so, how can applicants customize their statements to stand out from the crowd?