Job Market

  • Depending on the job, having a working class or lower socio-economic class background may work out to your advantage. When applying to teaching-focused jobs at institutions where a large percentage of the student body are first-generation college students, you can write in your cover letter or teaching portfolio about how you would be a good mentor for students who come from a similar background as yourself. This can make you an attractive candidate!
  • Interfolio is a great way to manage job applications and letters. But they charge you for every shipment. It can get really expensive if you apply for many jobs. Ask your uni if they cover any of the cost of Interfolio. In the olden days universities had a dossier service that was an office dedicated to gathering letters rec and transcripts for students and sending them out. Interfolio has replaced that, and so some unis will offset the cost to you.
    • Here’s where your MLA membership will save you. Interfolio is free through them. I didn’t know this and spent a ton of money until I tweeted about it and the MLA account told me about this.
    • Ask your department secretary if your university/department has an institutional arrangement with Interfolio that can get you some free time or perhaps a discounted rate.
  • Getting an application together for the first time is pretty complex, here are some how to videos covering the various documents. They are tailored more to the Australian market (especially the 'how to look for jobs' and the video on 'selection criteria'), but much of the information is generally transferable.First round interviews in many fields happen at the major disciplinary conference. Though some schools are moving towards offering Skype interviews instead, you will likely receive interview requests right before a conference that is extraordinarily expensive to attend. You can offset your travel costs by planning ahead, submitting a paper to present at your conference and seeking travel funding in advance.This takes planning well in advance but can save money and reduce stress.
  • Talk to your spouse or significant other or kids (as applicable) BEFORE starting your job search. Identify places you as a family are or are not willing to live. I have heard horror stories of faculty accepting a position that led to a divorce or retracting an acceptance. Don't waste your time applying to a school in a place you can't stand to live. Your sanity and well being are more important.
  • Recognize that schools generally start the hiring cycle up to a year in advance and this process is long. So a phone interview in July this year may lead to an on-campus visit in September, with an offer in December for a position that starts in August next year. Start job hunting as soon as you can reasonably prove your defense will be successful. This is a key thing to show in your application materials. Article on How to Prepare for the Job Market by Firth, Germonprez, and Thatcher (2014).
  • I highly recommend HigherEdJobs.com to source academic jobs. It has its limits, because it batches data from multiple sources. Set up alerts to be notified of new postings that match your interests. Find out if your academic society has a listserv and sign up for that. Jobs often get posted on the listservs because they're free advertising. (Check settings for Daily Digest.) If there's a specific school you like, set up alerts on their job board. Some state schools have specific hoops you have to jump through to apply for jobs. For example, Georgia has a clearing house website. The plus side is, once you sign up for an account, if a school posts a job that matches your credentials, the school is required to notify you of the opening.
  • Many of the major conferences/organizations also offer graduate student travel grants. You have to apply for these up to a year in advance of the conference, so check with your organization for the details on when and how to apply so you can do so the first year you are on the market. I received an MLA travel grant that, together with the grant I received from our GSA, allowed me to attend MLA essentially for free the year I was on the market.
  • Many many people don't get a job on the first round. Think about and plan with your adviser re an interim plan. Postdoc? Temp position at your uni? Something to hold you over so you stay competitive but can still pay the bills in the interim. Lots of US English departments have lectureships designed to employ PhD students for a year and up to three years post-degree to facilitate your job search.
  • Really, truly consider non-academic options in addition to academic ones. Academic jobs are incredibly hard to come by and regardless of the quality of your research and teaching--it doesn’t always work out simply due to dumb luck. Seriously consider and do some preparation for non-academic careers. While those in the hard sciences and engineering may be able to more easily envision the transition to the private sector, there are great opportunities for those in humanities and social sciences too. Consider things like consulting, /state/local government agencies, higher ed administration, non-profits, international organizations … there are a lot and they can be incredibly interesting and fulfilling, without much of the existential angst that Assistant Professors seem to face.
    • The cost of moving, something you will likely have to do often in this profession.
    • A job offer often comes with relocation package and is usually negotiable
      • This seems to be increasingly hit-or-miss. I've heard from more than one friend who has gotten a job recently that they were told that the university/college wasn't "allowed" to offer moving expenses, though some tried to make it up in other ways.
      • Similarly, for tax reasons schools that offer relocation expenses may have very hard limits on what kind of things the fund for. “Relocation reimbursements” are the trickiest: this money can be used to rent a truck, but not to buy a sofa, for instance. The point: ask lots of questions about what the various funding sources are for when you negotiate a job offer.
      • Remember that all such expenses come out of pocket first and are reimbursed after you have made the move. As with travel funding for conferences, it is crucial that you keep all receipts for the moving process, including gas station stops, hotel(s) if/when applicable, meals, and so forth, as well as the moving truck and/or movers.
      • The least expensive moving option is still UHaul. Budget Truck Rentals is also a good option- they have a bigger truck than Uhaul, and charge about ⅔ of the price of UHaul. You can also now pay for part-time movers to help for an hour or two on either end, to alleviate your having to move the really heavy items yourself. DON’T BUY BOXES. We cruised behind Barnes and Noble and the liquor store in town three or four times and had plenty of boxes to move with. Know when they tend to do overnight stocking, and come for the boxes the next morning, so they haven’t had a chance to get wet and/or dirty in the recycling bin. The best boxes for moving books are the liquor store boxes!
      • The cost of moving depends on what you have--car, furniture, electronics books--and where you're going. Assess what is less expensive to take with you instead of buy again. For those not going to another academic post, possibly returning to family, what do you need on returning? If you're just moving books (which was my case both moves) I shipped via US Postal Service media mail when Amtrak was not an option at the destination site.