Academic Job-Hunting: Finding Jobs to Apply for

I’m prepping to help with a professionalization workshop at the end of the week – and I was on the job market somewhat recently – so I’ve got job-hunting on the brain. Here, in no order of importance and with no pretense of being comprehensive, are a few of the things that I consider to be important when job-hunting in academia.

Today I’ll talk about how to learn about – and then keep up-to-date about – job possibilities. Topics like cover letters, etiquette, and being sane will come later.

  1. Do all the no-brainer stuff. 
    • Join whatever the important professional organizations are in your field. Jobs will be posted there.  For linguists, this means minimally that you should belong to:
    • Check the job-listings posted on those sites regularly: get the Linguist List Daily email Digest, and read it.
  2. Join a job listing site like and set it up so that you receive alerts when new jobs are posted.
    • I get three different simplyhired alert digests emailed to me each day.
      • One is for the keywords “professor + linguistics” – this one includes all of the job ads that have the words professor and linguistics in them. I get a lot of repeats on here, and most of the jobs also appear on another one of the sites I watch – The Linguist List, really, is the premiere linguistics job listing site in the world, as far as I know. Every now and then something new shows up, however, so I keep on reading this.
      • A second alert is for all job ads containing the search terms “postdoctoral + fellowship”, and this one often contains things I would not have known about otherwise. I worry that a lot of people who are just finishing school, or just barely out of school, don’t search for post docs, and I think that is a mistake. Most of us are going to end up in post docs right out of school. If you end up in a tenure track position right away, good on ya – it’s not the norm, though, so don’t forget to look for postdocs. 
      • The third is for ads containing the terms “Boston + linguist”, because hey: a girl can dream.
    • The point here is that it never hurts to get a little creative: whatever it is you think you want to do right out of school may or may not work out, so you want to find a way to tap into as many job ads as possible. That’s not to say that you should apply for every single thing that comes across your screen – you don’t want to go crazy, after all. But if you are looking for a job in academia, then you have either just completed or are about to complete a research degree. Put those research skills to work in job-hunting, and look for possibilities. 
  3. Bookmark the relevant wikia site(s), and check it/them with just the right amount of regularity.
    • The 2013-14 Linguistics wikia is here.
    • This is an amazing resource…even if you’re not on the job market this year, you can check it and previous years out to see what kind of jobs are up, how things change from year to year, when deadlines tend to be, when interviews tend to happen, et cetera.
    • There are wikia pages for all kinds of academic jobs out there, so if you’re not in linguistics then just look for the relevant page.
    • Don’t forget the Dissertation Fellowships wikia – again, even if you’re not dissertating next year, it’s not too early to check out the wikia and see what kind of opportunities you might want to try for in the future.
    • While we’re at it, you should also check out the 2013-14 Humanities and Social Sciences post docs wikia.
    • The most important thing I can say about the wikia pages might be this: Don’t be a lunatic. Sure, you’re anxious about whether anyone has heard anything from College X. Sure, we all understand that you might want to check the wikia every 37 seconds, just in case anyone has posted something. But please, don’t let yourself do it. You have to maintain a little bit of distance. Use these things as resources, but don’t get obsessive about checking them. 
  4.  Talk to people. Make sure that people know that you are on the market.
    • Don’t be creepy, but do be pro-active. Go to conferences; present your research; make and nurture connections.
  5. AND – critically – keep an organized, running list somewhere.
    • I create a document each year called something like “Jobs to Apply for 2014”. It’s  organized by month and by application due-date, and contains what I consider to be the relevant info.
    • When I find a job that seems like a reasonable possibility, I add it to the document right away. I may not end up applying for every single thing that goes into the document, but if I keep all relevant information nicely organized in the same place then I know I can always come back to it later.
    • Each entry looks something like this (although this is a mock-up that I made to post on here):

Screen shot 2013-12-02 at 10.18.56 PM

So, with regards to finding jobs to apply for, the above points do a pretty good job of covering the bases. I’m sure there are things that I don’t do that would be helpful, so feel free to chime in if you have more suggestions. 

I will say, I think it’s important to approach this seriously, and to be prepared to put time into seeking. Searching for jobs to apply for may seem like a really small part of the process: after all, simply browsing through job ads is easy. Writing the statements, figuring out how to present yourself: those are the hard things. Right?

But searching is the first step in the process, and it’s something that will go better for you if you have a little bit of an agenda. So develop a habit: put 10 minutes of your morning coffee-and-internet time into job-hunting. Do it every day, or every weekday, if you’re on the market now. Do it once a week if you’re a year or 18 months out, or once a month if you’re still years from finishing. Do make it a part of your routine, though. Scan things. Keep an eye out. It will help you to be more aware of the trends in your field, and it will mean that you’re better prepared when the time comes to actually hunt.

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