The Career Center recognizes the complexity of the academic job search particularly in light of the changing, and sometimes, difficult nature of the academic job market. We are here to aid PhD students throughout the process via our online resources, graduate student programs, and individual appointments.
Overview of the Academic Job Search
Because of the structured nature of academia and the academic job search, you may not have much flexibility in your timeline. While the timing of a search may vary by discipline, a typical hiring cycle usually begins around October and concludes by April or May. Because of the tight labor market you may be competing against candidates who have finished their degrees, and perhaps even have some teaching or research experience. Thus you may be at a competitive disadvantage if you cannot give at least reasonable assurance you will be finished by the time the job begins.
An academic job search can last anywhere from 12 to 15 months. Generally the earlier you start the better. In the exploration phase you may start researching what kind of opportunities exist or the kind of institutions you are most interested in. The expectation is to use this time to work towards finishing your dissertation and submitting publications, discussing your plans with advisors, and growing your community of academic contacts. If you are part of a dual career couple you may take this time to investigate how this will impact you and your partner's search.
In the preparation phase you may continue to build community by attending professional conferences and meetings, preparing written materials including CVs, research statements, and teaching philosophies, and building your online presence.
In the execution phase you are applying for academic jobs, preparing for or participating in conference, phone, and on-campus interviews, and continuing to use your network to uncover leads.
Generally the last steps in the process involve evaluating your offer(s), negotiating, and making plans for transitioning to your new appointment. Many PhD students recognize that given the nature of today's market it also makes sense to concurrently explore non-academic opportunities.