I'm on a couple of hiring committees right now at work, and I have to say--I wish I had been on some hiring committees before I was applying for jobs back in the day. This isn't to say that I'm unhappy with my job. Far from it. Rather, I think I would have been much more successful as an applicant if I'd had the chance to look at a bunch of other applications. Go figure. As it is, I consider myself lucky to have had everything work out as it has.
You see things differently when you're one of the people making the hiring decisions. You process the information differently, analyze it differently . . . I'm not sure how else to put it. Whereas an applicant might look at a job and see a single way to apply, when you have a big pile of applications for the same job, you start to see that there are, in fact, many ways to apply. You can include a cover letter or not--have it lengthy or brief. You can add letters of recommendation, fill things out in pen or electronically. Spell check or not. When everything's reduced to pure information--all the committee has in front of them are the documents you sent them--then everything gets processed and compared. People who would be hard to compare in real life suddenly become faceless whoevers, and it's a lot easier to compare them.
This isn't making sense. Sorry. All I mean to say is that, as a word of advice to anyone out there applying for jobs, take time on your application. Individualize it. Provide as much information as possible. It really does make a difference. These are all things I knew mentally before, but now I've seen them at work, and they make oh so much more sense.
That is all.