Friday, December 9, 2011

Professional Development: Academic Job Search

Four professors from the UCLA School of Public Affairs, specifically urban planning and social welfare, shared the following advice and lessons learned about the job search process.

In order to be a competitive candidate, participate in conference presentations, publications, and research projects (including collaborations).  Conference presentations may lead to networking contacts and potential jobs.  Publications provide proof that a job candidate will be productive and get tenure.

In a competitive market, a completed dissertation is a must.  At the very least, make sure your results chapter is drafted by the time you conduct job talks (presentations to faculty and students).

Hiring committees may review a CV to determine how long it took you to get through the program.  10 years is too long and may be a sign that you are not cut out for an academic position.

There is a ratcheting up of expectations about the number of publications you have by graduation.  Cache is research and publication - both your own and in collaboration - as compared to teaching experience.  Although it is helpful to show you can be effective in the classroom.

A track record of fellowship funding shows a candidate's ability to secure funding (and future potential to secure research funding).

Letter of interest - this is a key indicator of how you present yourself to the world.  This is not a time to be modest, while not sounding like the best thing on earth.  Finding a balance and putting best foot forward.

Develop relationships with professors now for later requests for letters of recommendation.  Better letters come from faculty that knows me/about me - classroom experiences and the work you do.  Who knows you?  Who recommends you?  Who is speaking for you?

Take advantage of opportunities to practice presenting your research. 

Take a lot of research and stats courses in the 4 years - there is no time to learn it later (considering the load and demands of an Assistant Professor).

One of the hardest things to learn is writing research grants - work with others.

At research institution (R1), the expectation is to bring in your own money (research grant funding).

Prepare by reading about department on the web.  Position yourself in their area of need.  "I can teach the following courses in your curriculum."  (Bring syllabi from courses previously taught).

One professor on the panel had four publications by the time she interviewed for academic positions.

Ways to publish - I have a paper I am working on, can you help me?  Can I continue it in this class?  Use course assignments as means to further manuscript development.  Can work on theory papers, concept papers, history papers, or literature review papers.  Conference presentation should become a publishable paper.  Submit to decent journals.  Prioritize publishing.  Get the best journals in your field and see what other people are working on.  How are people writing?  What methods are people using?

Observe job talks - I really like that they did X, I didn't like that they did Y.

What is it that you want to do?  Teach as a primary focus? - CSU & other teaching universities  Research as primary focus? - UC & other research universities

Publications will get you promoted.  Good teaching will be helpful but won't get you promoted.

Show your course reviews on the job market.

Prioritize research assistant vs. teaching assistant.  Balanced vita with both teaching and research accomplishments okay. 

One professor participated in national job search and leveraged 3 job offers to attract job offer from UCLA.

Family friendly policies (maternity leave and child care) - UC system has the best in the country.  Discuss way up front in job negotiation.  Do they permit "time off the clock"?  Stop the tenure process for a period of up to one year?  At UCLA, this can be done two times in 7 years.  Subsidized child care as negotiating chip.  Raise negotiations after job offer - then negotiatie, negotiate, negotiate.  Finesse family issues during job talk.  It is illegal to ask but committees do ask.  Ask about what resources the University has in a general way.  Committees are not supposed to talk about personal matters. 

It is a demanding (focused and goal driven) but flexible job.  Go about feeling good about the choices you are making and others will follow suit.  Accept it and others will accept it too (your pregnancy at job talk).

Job Talk considerations:  Is my presentation engaging?  Am I enthusiastic? exuberant? energy level? Interested and interesting?  Job talks are an important part of the interview process.  Start talk by positioning your work in a larger context, research, design/methodology, research is rigorous, what are the next things you want to do? expand? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  envision your career?  How does it relate to the rest of the world (help people not in my area understand contribution and importance of my research).  Job talk is weighted heavily.  Present completed work - tangible findings. Research question and methodology should be extremely clear.  Pull yourself out of the details and think about what a diverse audience would appreciate knowing.  Talk about your motivation of research - why did you choose this question? Literature and practice influence.  Position current research into research trajectory.  You are the expert in the room - be in control - fielding questions versus presenting your work.  Link to the interests/research of the faculty in the room.  Stick to the time allotted - practice.  Buy an outfit that you look great in and feel comfortable in.  Practice job talk 10 times in front of an audience, talk without notes.  Use effective slides - get feedback before using - slides should be supplementary and helpful.  Present my voice, link to scholarly theory and methodology.  The whole time you are visiting the campus, you are on - present your best side the whole time, from plane landing to take off.  You are also there to see if you want them - this may not be the best place for you. 

Start your search at the top - select from top 20 R1 institutions.  It is seldom likely that you will be able to move from a CSU to an R1.  There are about 40-50 doctoral granting universities in social work.  Postdoc or research job is preferable to working at a CSU if your ultimate goal is to work at R1.  Maintain scholarly productivity.  RAND, postdoc (NIH/University), R1.

Think early about what you want on your CV.

1 comment:

  1. Hi all...

    Like every facet of academic life, the job search requires extensive preparation and research. This handout, as an accompaniment to the Academic Job Search programs provides a general overview of the job search process, as well as a guide to various resources available to doctoral students who are seeking academic employment.


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