Mentioning personal growth on a job application?

I’m applying for a summer job of potential long-term value. Turns out the person handling the applications is a former teacher of mine (the circles are small in my line of work). Back in the day, I was a troubled guy, an offensive bipo pessimist with a strong loner streak. A dream worker, for sure! I know, and people remark I’ve definitely changed for the better since then in many ways.

I have no idea how my former teacher felt about me, as he never confronted me about my behavior. Aside from being an asshole, I was a knowledgeable top student. His ex-wife, also a teacher there, did confront me on just the above issues, so I’m not making things up in my mind. I’m sure the wife discussed me with her husband, and not in a positive light. OTOH no-one liked the wife, she left the teaching job doors-a-banging, and they did get divorced, so maybe her view doesn’t have that much weight.

I’m asking for opinions on whether I should mention my emotional growth since the student days on the free-form application? Add something like: “P.S. During the past several years severe introspection, and becoming a father of two, among other things, has made me a much more valuable teamworker than I was in the past”. (Pay no attention to the specific words here, as I will not be writing this in a foreign language like here). Is this a thoroughly bad idea? Should I just make a regular application and hope my past doesn’t prevent me from getting hired?

My vote is that you don’t mention this in anything you send or give people, and be ready with an answer if somebody else asks you about it. Also, you should be (as you are) aware of this as a possible issue, and you should try to project your new and improved self, and think about any leftovers that you may still carry and try to minimize their appearance in your ways.

It is very valuable for you to be aware of all this and be thoughtful about it. But, I think it would probably be much more of a red flag than anything else, if you were putting something about this history out there without being asked.

By the way, congratulations on having become a more useful and compatible person. The world needs you.

How long ago are your student days? Is there a chance that this teacher may not even remember you clearly anymore? Have you had other jobs since then?

My first inclination would be to let sleeping dogs lie. Your “P.S.”, even ignoring the exact wording, would be laying it on too thick I think. It would be attracting attention to the very subject you’d prefer not to come up. On the other hand, if you are quite sure that the teacher will remember you negatively, you will want to give some acknowledgement of the fact that you are aware that you used to be an annoying dweeb and you understand that people might be wary of hiring you because of that. But you want to make it as subtle and low-key as possible.

How about, either in the resume or the cover letter, mention under the first real job after your student years, something like this:

Just IMHO, this is the worst possible way of doing it. Putting anything about personal growth on your resume is a huge red flag: frankly, I’d see it as a sign that you’re a drama queen who somehow thinks basic professionalism is something to be congratulated about, instead of a bare minimum expected of anyone.

Now, things like that could be mentioned (carefully) in the cover letter. My advice is, if you’re submitting the application directly to the former teacher, then casually mention it in the introduction of your cover letter. If it’s a generic application, probably don’t say anything, unless you’re sure the company is so small that they’ll immediately ask the teacher about you. It IS something you’ll absolutely want to cover in the interview, but not necessarily in the application.

So if the cover letter is directly addressed to this person, I might do something like:
"Dear Professor X:
I am writing to apply for the Cool Summer Job Position. I’ve been interested in this kind of work since taking your class in YYYY, where I think I showed some aptitude in this field, though perhaps without the maturity that I’ve gained in the past Z years. <More stuff pointing out how exactly your experience makes you a perfect fit>. "

If it’s a generic cover letter, I might possibly do the same thing, just change it to ‘since taking Professor X’s class in YYYY’, but I’d think it over first.
That’s gets the goal of getting you in for an interview: assuaging Prof X’s fears if he remembers you as a jerk, without saying anything incriminating if he doesn’t or if someone else reads it.

I like this one better than mine.

Thanks for the suggestions!

I agree my wording in the OP is “laying it too thick” and would be a huge red flag.

I’ll either keep my mouth shut as Napier suggested, or at most use something along the lines of Quercus’ subtle approach. The application will be going directly to the man by E-mail, but I certainly can’t be sure he’ll be the only one reading it.

If you’re submitting a resume, and not just an application, you can include a list of your activities or hobbies during school/in your spare time, which may also demonstrate that you’ve matured. They’re relevant life experience even if they aren’t directly related to the job you’re seeking.

If I knew the person handling the applications, I think I’d be picking up the telephone and calling them first. It’s networking… Remind him who you are, express your interest, ask if there is anything you should know about the position, etc.

In answer to writing about your past difficulties, I would NEVER EVER put anything negative like that in writing. Maybe mention it in an interview with the teacher if you feel you need to if he even remembers you. In writing? Nope.