I think there's some really useful stuff being posted by search-committee members in this post over at the Smoker (along, of course, with the usual griping;). From my experience both as a faculty member at a teaching-oriented SLAC and as a job-seeker, the following comment by an SLAC committee member seems to me spot-on concerning what SLAC departments tend to look for:
I have served on a number of search committees. In my teaching-oriented institution we also focus on CVs and cover letters in the first instance, then look at teaching materials, the writing sample, and recommendations...
Here are some reasons why I did hire specific candidates:
1. Every part of the candidate's materials convinced us that they were applying for - and were genuinely interested in - the specific job at our school, not just any job (yes, the market is in an appalling state, and yes, we are a small and poor teaching institution, but this is a job we think is worth doing).
2. This impression was consistently reinforced at interview
3. The candidate could teach what we needed them to teach, and had the experience and/or skills necessary to flourish in our institution
4. The candidate consistently showed that they care about working with students, that they are able to do so efficiently, and also that they are able to encourage and mentor our specific student population
5. The candidate could communicate effectively and clearly (NB - if you have never done a phone or on-campus interview, please practice interview skills with a trusted senior colleague - some people look wonderful on paper, yet cannot answer simple questions clearly, which immediately makes us wonder how on earth they would communicate effectively with our students)
6. Nobody got any sense that the candidate would act in a discriminatory or confrontational manner (e.g. unprofessionally) in the workplace.
Notice what isn't mentioned here:
- Writing sample.
- Research statement.