The three areas of a tenure track job are Research, Teaching, and Service. Your packet must address each of these three separate parts, but let’s be honest, no one really cares about service. So, check with your department chairperson and look at the packets you got from others and ask, “Do I need a separate service statement?” If the answer is “no” make sure that your CV has all the information about your service in it, so that people know what you did. If the answer is “yes” then you need to write a separate service statement.
This statement is even worse than the teaching statement about knowing what to write because most people don’t have a vision of service. You usually just do the service you are assigned and don’t mess up too bad. But, if you think about it, you might find that some of the service you do might be aligned in some way, and you can write about that. For instance, did you serve on the graduate admissions committee and mentor new graduate students and served on the qualifying exam committee? You can write about your commitment to training graduate students. If you were an undergraduate advisor and served as the liaison between the department and the undergraduate student club, you can talk about undergraduate mentoring and education. Not all your committee assignments will coalesce, but you don’t have to detail them all. All your committees are listed in your CV, so you just have to outline and point out the ones you want to here.
Another aspect of service is your scientific community service. This includes the panels you serve on, the papers you review for journals, the meetings you organize, and any national committees you serve on for your societies. This is the easiest to describe, since it is closely aligned with research, and maybe you actually sought some of these service activities, instead of having them randomly assigned.
Any other suggestions? Comment or guest post!