These past couple of years (!!!!!; also ACK!) I've been reading Dr. S's job applications. For you readers so lucky as to never have read one of these fine items, they consist of the following:
1) Cover letter. A syncophantic recounting of one's virtues, coupled to why they are ideally suited to the college or university in question. Probably nobody ever reads it, but just to be sure, it has to be perfectly calibrated to the reader's imagined tastes. Of course, one has no idea if the reader is the department chair, a bored secretary, or an underling. It must also convey that one passionately wants to teach at College X, when what one wants is, in fact, a job already. If one has a specific wish to live in the area, that is a red flag (what, you only want to live here because of something else?) and if one does not, the hiring committee fears the applicant will hate the area with the burning passion of ten thousand suns.
2) CV. Mercifully, this one does not require editing - at least not by me.
3) Teaching philosophy. A greater collection of drivel I have never read. (This is not limited to my spouse; every one I have ever read was drivel.) People hate writing these, and it shows.
4) Research statement. The best part to edit, and simultaneously the worst. It has to be as detailed, plausible, exciting, and feasible as a grant proposal, but in three pages flat. It has to include specific experimental details, but a random assortment of not-in-your-field scientists are going to read it, so it has to do this in language a physicist could understand. It has to be flashy and exciting (lasers! robots! genomics! STEM CELLS! BIOINFORMATICS!) but still miraculously within a small college's budget.* And within all these constraints, it has to not put the hiring committee to sleep.
I usually edit these after we put the children to bed. It's getting late, I'm tired and crabby, I probably have a glass of wine in my head, and I'm thinking "Words, words, words.... TOO MANY WORDS! Boooooooring! I don't know that word and I am too lazy to look it up. Why do I care about this?"
In other words, I'm a pretty good approximation of a hiring committee, all by myself.
*Did you know that human stem cell media costs roughly $1 PER ML? Me neither. It's like setting $1000 bills on FIRE every single day.