Tips for the Job Search

Every spring, Joe Black, our exceedingly generous Assistant Graduate Director, holds a job search panel to discuss tips for obtaining an academic job in an ever tightening market. Below are some tips he bestowed just last week. Please contribute any information I may have missed or advice from your own experiences. Thanks!

1.) Begin the application process in early summer. You will rewrite your cover letter and other materials many times and will want several eyes to view your drafts. Also, you will want your academic references to have plenty of time to write you thoughtful letters.

2.) Gather sample documents such as cover letters and CVs from J. Black's office to use as templates and for inspiration.

3.) Nurture the reciprocity that will likely occur between your cover letter and introduction to your dissertation. As you write your letter, you will likely find language that sums up accurately and succinctly your overall project. Use this process to more elegantly craft your introduction and any other documents wherein you describe your work. You may also find that writing your letter will help you better articulate your project to others.

4.) When looking at job listings, consider how the profession categorizes jobs and write your application accordingly. While 3-4 lines will never truly describe who we are as teachers and scholars, we, temporarily at least, will need to fit in a slot.

5.) Contact the graduate dossier service in SEPTEMBER. Historically, they have been very helpful in getting new and lost information to schools very quickly and with little notice. Emergencies like missing letters, etc. always come up.

6.) Prepare ahead for phone interviews. It's helpful to have one sheet of paper in front of you with the following things listed in clear, readable language:
a.) 3-4 unique things you like about their program
b.) the specific language used to describe your dissertation and teaching philosophy
c.) a list of THEIR catalogued classes that you are qualified to teach
d.) a brief description of what you can uniquely bring to their program

7.) Keep the following things in mind when doing in-person interviews:
a.) Don't take notes during the actual interview! Its better to make eye contact throughout and take notes afterward, in your hotel room, when you have time to reflect on the experience.
b.) Have application materials ready to hand out: sample syllabi, writing sample, etc.
c.) Send a thank you email to your interviewers afterward.

Finally, here are some additional tips to keep in mind:
a.) When sending any application documents via email, send them as pdf files so as to avoid formatting problems.
b.) Sometimes jobs come up in the spring! Make sure you look at the job list throughout the whole school year, not just in the fall.
c.) Practice giving job talks with Joe Black and anyone else that will listen to you. The more comfortable you are with your material, the more confident and qualified you will seem during the talk.
d.) Hiring committees read the applications they receive very quickly. Make sure your materials get to the point quickly and are error-free. Don't give the committee a reason to not look at your application in more depth.

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