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A self-nom, short for self-nomination, is a short statement that a person composes to describe his fitness for an advertised position that will be filled by selection or election. Self-noms are either published to voters to help them decide on a candidate (as in the case of elections to College Council), or are furnished to members of a small selection committee that will decide among candidates, such as College Council's Appointments Committee, in deciding on appointments to Student-faculty committees.
Calls for self-noms always have a deadline by which the nomination must be submitted (College Council's bylaws specify that solicitation must occur two weeks before the deadline), but frequently contain few other guides for writing them. This is a problem, as it is certainly an unusual form of writing, and the unfamiliarity of the request has definitely hampered applicants newer to Williams and the process in the past.
Tips for Writing Good Self-noms
Good self-noms convince the target audience that the student will be a good choice for the job. They use effective language, cover all relevant information and are well presented.
A good self-nom should:
- Contain the name, year and possibly major, dorm, background, study abroad plans, etc.
- Present relevant experience on campus and off
- Be written for readers who do not know you or your accomplishments already
- Convince the reader that you want to do this job
- Convince the reader that you are qualified and competent enough to do this job
- List specific, well informed ideas about what you will do in this position. (the more you know about the position you're applying for, the more likely you will sound informed and competent, so do a little research!)
- Use the full space allowed (otherwise you'll say fewer cool things about yourself than the other candidates will)
A good self-nom should not:
- Begin with the phrase: "This is a very important time for Williams college", or "I'm really excited to be ______". Everyone says these things and they don't mean anything.
- Exceed the allotted length.
- Tell the reader irrelevant experience such as how you taught scuba diving (unless you're applying to the lecture committee because you really think we need more scuba-related talks. In that case, good luck!)
- Use obscure or overly intellectual language. Remember your audience is your peers.
- Use fancy formatting. What you say is more important, and any fancy formatting is likely to be screwed up when the self-nom is republished in a booklet or on the web.