Unsolicited Advice: Job Search (Pt. 3)

In my last post about looking for an academic job, we were laying the groundwork for applying for positions by deciding (with our advisor of course) which projects to take, preparing a CV, and statements of research interests and teaching. Ok, so now we are ready to move forward.

First, let me point out that there is a seasonality to the academic job search. I don’t mean to say that all post-docs are ready to move on at the same time, what I mean by this is that because many institutions have teaching responsibilities and thus are tied to an academic calendar- they are looking to hire people to arrive on campus when the academic year begins, usually in September (I realize that’s a horrifying run-on sentence, don’t put any of those in your applications!). Because the hiring process takes a long time (nearly a year in most cases) – most positions, and the largest number of positions will be advertised in the preceding fall. What you should realize is that the most positions are advertised between August and November, and then the number of ads drops off significantly. Interviewing will start in December, and continue for a few months, then there will be a round of second interviews and offers in the hope of having candidates hired in the spring or early summer for arrival in the fall. This isn’t ALWAYS how it works, and there will be ads in the off season, so don’t stop looking at them… but in general this is the flow of things. The take home message is: 1. Seasonality to the ads/searches, and 2. Process takes a long time… sometimes up to a year.

Digest that, and I’ll come back and cover … cover letters (if you must read ahead see the ‘Application Pkg’ tab where there is a section on cover letters) and which ads you should respond to…

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