Unsolicited Advice: Job search (Pt. 6)

Well, now that you have a few ads to respond to, start sending those applications already! Once you have sent 30 or 40 applications come on back and we can wait together. And wait, and wait, and wait. As I have said previously- it takes a some time for search committees to slog through all that paperwork- so expect that from the time you send in your application there will be a pretty hefty lag – this can last several months so don’t quit your day job (or postdoc, as the case may be). Also- there is no rhyme or reason about if or when you will be notified that your application is no longer under consideration- so don’t take it personally if you don’t hear anything.

Actually, the waiting is perfect- (and you should be a pro at it by now you’re a scientist after all, and nothing in the lab happens THAT quickly)- because it gives you some time to do a little homework about potential departments, and to prepare for the next steps including attending an interview, giving a job talk, and possibly also giving a chalk talk. Ready sources of information about the departments you have applied to include the department web page and faculty listing and any insight from your colleagues. You can use CRISP for determining how many faculty are federally funded, and pubmed/medline/google scholar for getting a feeling for their publication records. Also useful to check out departments within the institution you are applying to that might have investigators whose interests overlap or intersect with your own (potential collaborators…). Don’t go hog wild on this now though, you will launch full scale into this when you are invited for an interview- but a little look around at the departments that you find most interesting won’t hurt. This preparation is very useful for getting a feeling for the institution, the department, and for having a few faculty to request to meet with when the request to interview comes…

As for preparing presentations for potential interviews- it is great to start thinking about what slides you are going to put together, gathering them up, and deciding what additional data you would really like to have if you should be invited to interview. And the chalk talk – well, that’s a whole different ballgame for which you have already laid the groundwork with your ‘research interests’ statement. Interviewing itself, the preparation, the presentations, how to dress and behave, how to follow up etc… will be the subject of several future posts.


8 thoughts on “Unsolicited Advice: Job search (Pt. 6)

  1. Looking forward to the rest of your series… perhaps it will help me determine whether or not I will apply for faculty positions. :o) The interview itself, of course, seems like the worst part. Repeat ad nauseum (if you’re lucky).

  2. Academic-

    Really the only thing that needs to be changed for each application is the cover letter, and sometimes the teaching statement needs to be adjusted a little- but basically once you have the thing together its just a simple matter of adjusting the cover letter for each one…

  3. Candid Engineer-

    I’ll build on this slowly slowly, hopefully in time for your decision.

    Actually for myself- I enjoyed the interview process. Once you do one or two interviews you kind of get the system down. This is, of course, difficult for people who are somewhat introverted. For me the most difficult part of interviewing was coming home and not wanting to talk to anyone at all for several days (this is tough on the family)- because while you are at the interview you just talk continuously. Also- the waiting afterwards is worse than the waiting before the interview…

  4. I am enjoying this series as well. Look forward to your thoughts on the other steps in the process. I have applied for 30 or so positions, and have received maybe 10 rejections and 6 interviews, and I love to hear from people who have been through it all before.

    And also, I would have to say that the interviews are actually usually pretty fun, in the exhausting never ending day fashion. You get to talk with new people about science and I have found myself having all sorts of good ideas pop up.

  5. Tom-

    Thanks for your kind words!

    Good luck with the job search- wow, it seems like I can’t whip out the chapters fast enough, who knew?

    I agree with you about interviewing, you meet so many new people who have really great ideas, or whose work gives you really good ideas. You also get such an education about how unique each department is in composition, leadership style, etc…

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