Academic applications and interviews

A colleague and I led a workshop this morning on academic job search, applications and interviews.  We had some really interesting discussions with the PhD students taking part so I thought I’d share some of the messages with you.

  • Networking is an important part of being a successful academic.  This does not mean desperately trying to have a conversation with the top people (professors) in your subject area at conferences so you can ask them for a job (or spending time thinking this is what you should be doing and worrying that you are not!).  Instead it means engaging in conversations where you explore shared or overlapping interests with other people at all stages of an academic career (even PhD students from other universities – possibly the professors of the future!).  Building networks and establishing connections can lead to sharing of ideas, possible future collaborations, and put you in a position to hear about interesting job openings.Networking
  • Remember you can engage with others in your research community online as well as in person at conferences.  Find out if there are specific online forums for your subject area and start contributing to discussions.  This could make it easier to establish a connection if you meet other contributors at conferences.
  • Ask your PhD supervisor if they will introduce you to people you would like to talk to as they are more likely to have a wider network than you at this stage in your career.
  • When you see a job advertised take the opportunity to contact the named person on the vacancy for further information.  You could learn more about the specific experience they are looking for as well as the research and teaching interests of those already in the department.   But make sure you prepare well for these conversations as you may well be remembered when your application comes across a desk – and you want to be remembered for positive reasons!
  • Make sure you target your CV to the job you are applying for.  If the focus is on research make sure you tell the recruiter enough detail about your research experience and future plans.  If teaching is important, then again make sure your teaching experience is given a prominent space on your CV.  Make it easy for them to see your most relevant experience.
  • If possible, attend seminars given by candidates who are being interviewed for an academic position in your department.  From the feedback you hear you will gain an idea of what works well in a job interview seminar and what doesn’t.
  • Ask your academic colleagues if they would be willing to give you a practice interview for an academic job.  Or if they don’t have time ask them to share with you some of the questions that are typically asked at interviews either through their experience of being interviewed or of sitting on a selection panel.

These were just a few things that came out of our discussions this morning.  For further information on academic job search and applications look at that section of our website.

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