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Academic Job Search

The academic job search begins while you are still a graduate student. Opportunities are not dependent only upon your field of study, research or dissertation topic, but also on what other activities you participate in while a student. Some suggestions are for you to acquire experience in your field by teaching, doing an internship, or getting work experience in your subject matter. Other recommendations are to co-author/author publications, participate in professional societies to develop your 'reputation' and to being the networking process, and participate in university committees in order to better understand academic procedures.

Before you begin your job search, be prepared both professionally and personally for the search. If you are ABD, be well organized to be able to finish your dissertation within the next one to two years since your new position will entail additional workloads and expectations.

Research higher education positions by using the following resources:

  • Professional association's newsletters within your particular field usually list vacancies. To locate professional societies, view Liszt.com
  • View education journals such as The Chronicle of Higher Education and general vacancy sites such as Academic Employment Network or Academic360
  • Locate institutions to target by reviewing the Peterson's Guide to Colleges and Universities and/or The Gourman Report and view their individual web sites.
  • Network by speaking to advisors/colleagues; attending conferences; and collaborating with others to have positions referred to you.

As you proceed through the application process, do as much research as you can about the institutions to which you are applying. Determine whether or not the school and department are a good fit for you, both personally and professionally.

Preparing an Application

The essential items of any academic job search are the curriculum vitae (CV) , the letter of application, and the professional dossier. The institutions to which you are applying may request additional information during the job search, depending upon your field of study. These items include: graduate school transcripts, dissertation abstract, writing sample, statement of teaching philosophy, and your research agenda. Check with your advisors or departmental officials for the standard application materials for your particular field.

The Curriculum Vitae is a comprehensive statement of your academic background and your teaching or research experience. In academic circles, the CV is the cornerstone of any application for employment, funding, honor, award or fellowship. Therefore, it is extremely important that your vitae reflects the range and scope of your interest, as well as highlights your particular teaching and research strengths.

The letter of application (or cover letter) is an extremely important part of your job application. This letter is the first time you are introducing yourself to a potential employer; therefore, it should not only describe your research and teaching experience but also demonstrate your intellect and writing ability. Successful letters are those which reflect something more than what is evident in your CV; they will give the search committee a sense of your voice, intellectual capacity, enthusiasm and interest in what you do. Successful letters also indicate that you are 'job ready' – that you can start teaching immediately, have a research agenda already underway, and have some sense of what it meanst to be a fully-functioning faculty member in your field. Draft your letter over several days and gather advice from your mentors, advisors and peers. The better this letter is, the better your chance of getting a first interview.

Stanford University has several guides to assist you in your job search (keep in mind that some of the content may be specific to their students) - http://cardinalcareers.stanford.edu/guides/grad.html

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