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The Academic Job Search Handbook

The Academic Job Search Handbook

Julia Miller Vick
Jennifer S. Furlong
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 4
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    The Academic Job Search Handbook
    Book Description:

    For more than 15 years,The Academic Job Search Handbookhas assisted job seekers in all academic disciplines in their search for faculty positions. The guide includes information on aspects of the search that are common to all levels, with invaluable tips for those seeking their first or second faculty position. This new edition provides updated advice and addresses hot topics in the competitive job market of today, including the challenges faced by dual-career couples, job search issues for pregnant candidates, and advice on how to deal with gaps in a CV. The chapter on alternatives to academic jobs has been expanded, and sample resumes from individuals seeking nonfaculty positions are included.The book begins with an overview of the hiring process and a timetable for applying for academic positions. It then gives detailed information on application materials, interviewing, negotiating job offers, and starting the new job. Guidance throughout is aimed at all candidates, with frequent reference to the specifics of job searches in scientific and technical fields as well as those in the humanities and social sciences. Advice on seeking postdoctoral opportunities is also included.Perhaps the most significant contribution is the inclusion of sample vitas.The Academic Job Search Handbookdescribes the organization and content of the vita and includes samples from a variety of fields. In addition to CVs and research statements, new in this edition are a sample interview itinerary, a teaching portfolio, and a sample offer letter. The job search correspondence section has also been updated, and there is current information on Internet search methods and useful websites.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0944-0
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction to the Fourth Edition
    (pp. 1-2)

    TheAcademic Job Search Handbookis designed to be a comprehensive guide to what is sometimes a needlessly bewildering process. It is written to help recent Ph.D.s, as well as junior faculty members who are changing positions, benefit from the experience of those who have successfully navigated the academic market. Our guidance is geared toward those conducting a job search in the United States. Candidates looking for jobs in other countries may find our advice to be of use; however, it is beyond the scope of this book to comment on the nuances of the job search in other countries...

  5. I. What You Should Know Before You Start

    • Chapter 1 The Structure of Academic Careers
      (pp. 5-9)

      You will be entering the job market at a time when higher education is subject to intense financial constraints, self-scrutiny, external assessment, the whims of the national ranking systems, competition, and accelerating technological change. Higher education has shifted to a more consumer-oriented model, both with the development of for-profit institutions and with the increasing demands placed on institutions by employers, legislators, parents, and students themselves, given the skyrocketing tuition at both public and private institutions. Institutions of higher education are also coming under increased political scrutiny. The pressure to compete for research grants has intensified, and the amount of research...

    • Chapter 2 Hiring from the Institutionʹs Point of View
      (pp. 10-16)

      Just as your vita presents the public face of your qualifications in a simple, organized form, without revealing the full complexity of your individual life, an advertised position is the public presentation of an outcome of complex negotiations within a department and possibly within an institution.

      It will generally be impossible for you, as a job candidate, to have a full understanding of what goes on behind the scenes. Even if you are fortunate enough to have an inside contact who can give you additional perspective, it is still extremely unlikely that you will know everything about the hiring decision....

  6. II. Planning and Timing Your Search

    • Chapter 3 Becoming a Job Candidate: The Timetable for Your Search
      (pp. 19-23)

      It is important to begin to prepare for your job search well before you expect to finish your dissertation or your postdoctoral research. In many fields it is also important to time the search to coincide with the completion of your dissertation. Many scientists are competitive on the tenure-track market only after a few years of postdoctoral research. Think about your job search, your participation in scholarly organizations, and the completion of your dissertation or postdoctoral research as a unified whole.

      Most faculty members will advise you not to take a tenure-track position before your dissertation is completed. Similarly, postdocs...

    • Chapter 4 Deciding Where and When to Apply
      (pp. 24-30)

      Before you begin a job search, think about what kind of job you want and whether you are currently prepared to compete successfully for it. Study position announcements to see what different types of institutions seem to require and use the information to help plan your next steps. If, realistically, you don’t yet seem qualified to compete successfully for the jobs you really want, consider whether a postdoctoral position or fellowship, additional teaching experience, or anything else will position you for a successful search.

      It’s important to think about both your priorities and your realistic chances of achieving your goals....

    • Chapter 5 The Importance of Advisors and Professional Networks
      (pp. 31-35)

      A job search may feel like a lonely enterprise, but it is always conducted within the context of a web of social relationships. You work within a discipline with its own language, conventions, and structure of communication. Your own research has undoubtedly been strengthened by communication with other people; in some fields it has been conducted as part of a team. You are leaving a department with one social structure and culture to enter another. You will be explicitly recommended by several people, and those who are considering your candidacy may hear about you from others.

      Whether you find these...

    • Chapter 6 Conference Presentations and Networking
      (pp. 36-39)

      Conferences and conventions are a major means of scholarly communication. They also provide an opportunity to meet people who can hire you or refer you to others who can. By the time you are an advanced graduate student, if not before, you should begin to participate in these meetings, which are an important means of communication in your discipline. As you near the end of your graduate work and enter the job market, conferences begin to play a more formal role in your job search. They may offer a job placement service or give you an opportunity to gain favorable...

    • Chapter 7 Letters of Recommendation
      (pp. 40-44)

      At some point in the screening process for nearly every job, and frequently as part of your initial application, you will be asked to ensure that letters supporting your candidacy reach the hiring department. The number requested varies, but three is typical. Since letters require the cooperation of others, allow yourself plenty of time to obtain them.

      The choice of recommenders is important and merits careful thought. Your dissertation advisor, of course, and anyone else with whom you have worked closely will be your first and second letter writers. In choosing additional recommenders find someone who can talk about your...

    • Chapter 8 Learning About Openings
      (pp. 45-48)

      Once you have decided what kinds of jobs to pursue, there are several resources you can use to ensure that you learn about all the opportunities that might interest you.

      Every discipline has a scholarly association that serves its members in many ways. The association functions as the recorder and critic of scholarship in the discipline by producing one or more scholarly journals of refereed articles. It normally also holds a conference, usually on an annual basis, where the most recent research in the field is presented. There are many forms of conference presentations. Individual scholars, seasoned Ph.D.s and advanced...

  7. III. Written Materials for the Search:: Suggestions and Samples

    • Chapter 9 Responding to Position Announcements
      (pp. 51-51)

      When you apply for any college or university teaching position, you will be asked to submit a “curriculum vitae,” a “vita,” or a “c.v.” All these terms apply to the same document, which is a summary of your education, experience, publications, and other relevant data. In addition you may be asked for any or all of these: a research statement, a statement of your teaching philosophy, a writing sample which could be a chapter of your dissertation or an entire published research paper, “evidence of successful teaching,” and a dissertation abstract. Members of the hiring committee may check your Web...

    • Chapter 10 Vitas
      (pp. 52-116)

      Whether or not it is accompanied by letters of recommendation, your vita is always the first thing you will send to a hiring institution, whether it is called a “vita,” a “c.v.,” a “curriculum vitae,” or, occasionally, a “resume.” In preparing it, your goal is to create enough interest in your candidacy that you will be granted a personal interview. Design your vita so that your strongest qualifications stand out if an employer skims it for only a few seconds, and with enough supporting detail so that it will stand up to scrutiny during a thorough reading.

      Before beginning to...

    • Chapter 11 Additional Application Materials
      (pp. 117-147)

      You may be asked to provide an abstract of your dissertation as part of the initial screening process for a faculty position. Or you may wish to provide it with your application whether or not you are specifically asked for it.

      Your abstract should conform to the conventions for your field. It is usually one or two pages long. Make the abstract, and therefore your dissertation, sound interesting and important. Use the active rather than the passive construction whenever possible, and stress findings and conclusions where they exist. Rather than saying, “A possible relationship between x and y was studied,”...

    • Chapter 12 Web Sites
      (pp. 148-152)

      As more and more people use the Internet as their primary means of finding information and communicating, some job candidates are constructing their own Web sites. This practice is now common in both technical and nontechnical fields. Job candidates who take the time to construct professional sites carefully report that potential employers are interested and impressed.

      A typical site might begin with a homepage that links to a vita, a statement of research interests, publications, sites one has prepared for courses or other professional purposes, other professional sites (such as those maintained by one’s professional association), and, perhaps, sites reflecting...

    • Chapter 13 Job Hunting Correspondence
      (pp. 153-174)

      Always include a cover letter or letter of interest when you send your vita to an employer. It is your opportunity to highlight your experience and expertise relevant to the specific institution and position.

      Never send a form letter. Whether you will stress the potential of your research, the success of your teaching, or your enthusiasm for the mission of the institution will depend on the hiring priorities of the employer. The more you learn about the institution and department, the greater the chance that you can write a letter which will make you look like not only an outstanding...

  8. IV. Conducting the Search

    • Chapter 14 Interviewing
      (pp. 177-186)

      The academic interviewing process may encompass three different types of events: the short half-hour to hour-long screening interview at an annual conference or convention which serves as the central job clearinghouse for a field, the phone interview, and the all-day or several-day interview on campus which may follow a successful conference or phone interview. If you are invited to interview for a job as a result of your direct response to an advertisement, an all-day campus interview may well be the first and only stage in the interviewing process. If you interview a lot, you may experience everything from highly...

    • Chapter 15 Off-Site Interviews: Conference/Convention and Telephone Interviews
      (pp. 187-193)

      Conference interviews may be relatively unimportant in your field. In many disciplines, however, preliminary interviews for most of the entry-level jobs in the country are held at the annual meeting. You may be one of ten or more well-qualified candidates on a long interview schedule, interviewing under conditions of stress and possible confusion. So what do you do? First, reassure yourself that other job candidates face the same situation. Practice before the convention so that you can convey key information succinctly and make the most of limited time. Practice ensures that when the interview arrives you can relax and respond...

    • Chapter 16 Campus Interviews
      (pp. 194-203)

      By the time a department invites three to five candidates for a visit, it has determined that all are in some sense competent. During the interview the search committee tries to assess such intangibles as “potential,” “fit,” and “tenurability.” On campus, it is as important to be prepared to be convincing and concise as it is at a conference. In addition, the abilities to respond flexibly to the requirements of unpredictable situations, to talk comfortably with others in informal, unstructured meetings, and to convey interest in the institution to which you’re applying will help you land the job.

      As institutions...

    • Chapter 17 Job Offers, Negotiations, Acceptances, and Rejections
      (pp. 204-216)

      In a tight job market, candidates worry primarily about receiving any acceptable job offer. However, job offers produce their own challenges.

      Once an offer is made, you may face a difficult decision about whether to accept it at all. If you are considering an offer, you may have to agree on a timetable for acceptance, decide on your first choice, encourage a first choice school to speed up their hiring process because you have to meet a deadline for accepting another offer, negotiate salary or working conditions, and deal appropriately with schools that you accept and reject.

      First, make sure...

  9. V. After You Take the Job

    • Chapter 18 Starting the Job
      (pp. 219-224)

      You have received and accepted an offer. Whether it’s at a place where you hope to stay or will be only for a year or two, advance preparation can help you make the most of the coming year. If you haven’t already done so, complete your dissertation or current research. It’s very important to have it behind you so that you can devote your energy to your new research and teaching responsibilities. Set deadlines for yourself and finish before the position begins.

      The most important move you make to your new job is psychological. You are no longer a graduate...

    • Chapter 19 Knowing About and Getting Tenure
      (pp. 225-228)

      Most institutions have some form of tenure. When you interviewed for your job or during the acceptance discussion, you probably asked some questions about tenure at your new institution. As you start your position and think ahead to the future, you should have a sense of how many junior faculty, both in your department and institution-wide, were granted tenure in the last ten years and how they were evaluated. Institutions often include a basic description of their tenure system on the faculty section of their website. Reading it and talking with your new colleagues should provide you with a reasonable...

    • Chapter 20 Changing Jobs
      (pp. 229-232)

      At some point you may decide or need to change jobs. There can be many reasons for changing jobs besides not being granted tenure, and each will require slightly different job seeking strategies.

      Perhaps you originally wanted to work at a different type of institution but were unable to find such a position during your original job hunt. Or, for one reason or another, you planned to stay for only a few years. Maybe you feel that the institution hasn’t lived up to its original commitment to you in terms of lab space, research assistance, library funding, or something else...

  10. VI. Additional Considerations

    • Chapter 21 Dual Career Couples, Pregnant on the Job Market, and Related Concerns
      (pp. 235-245)

      Many of the conventions of academic job hunting developed when most candidates were American men whose spouses, if they had them, did not have careers. Today, both male and female candidates in the American academic job market are increasingly part of two-career couples and many intend to have families. Some institutions are well aware of this and have policies in place to assist couples on the job market and to support faculty members as they start their families; others may deal with these situations on a case-to-case basis. As has been discussed throughout, as a job candidate, it is best...

    • Chapter 22 International Scholars, Older Candidates, and Gaps in Your Vita
      (pp. 246-250)

      In recent years candidates in the American academic job market have become increasingly diverse in cultural and international backgrounds. In addition, some job candidates are pursing academe as a second career and thus are older than many other candidates. Continue to emphasize the professional background that is your link to the department’s mission. Additionally you should also be able to discuss what makes you a strong, if atypical, candidate.

      First, think realistically about your long-term goals. If you want to work in the United States only for the duration of your practical training period, don’t apply for tenure-track positions. Instead,...

    • Chapter 23 Thinking About the Expanded Job Market
      (pp. 251-266)

      Higher education is changing drastically as it becomes more market-driven. As a result, it’s difficult to map out an academic career far into the future, because the rules keep changing. In almost every field in which one can obtain a Ph.D., studies show that a substantial number of people with that degree work at something other than faculty positions. Despite your best efforts, sometimes you find that events do not unfold according to plan. Perhaps your advisor is denied tenure and becomes disheartened and preoccupied halfway through your research. Perhaps you fall in love with someone rooted to a particular...

  11. Appendices

    • Appendix 1: National Job Listing Sources and Scholarly and Professional Associations
      (pp. 269-280)
    • Appendix 2: Additional Reading
      (pp. 281-284)
  12. Index
    (pp. 285-287)