Are you on the academic job market this season? You're searching for tips and tricks to succeed on the market, that's how you landed on this page.
And you want some reassurance that you're not the only one on this journey. You've come to the right place.
I am a full-time, waiting to hear on tenure, assistant professor of psychology. My institution is a small, liberal arts Catholic university. I transitioned immediately from my doctoral program to teaching here full-time. Even six years ago, it seemed like a miracle that I did not have to complete a postdoc first. Many of my colleagues starting at the same time did complete postdocs. Or they were transitioning from visiting professor positions. I have served on hiring committees within my institution in the past few years.
That's my background, but let's talk about you. You're wondering how you can succeed on the academic job market.
First, I recommend reading resources about how to write the documents.
There's the cover letter. The teaching statement or teaching philosophy. The research philosophy or research statement. Sometimes institutions also request written statements about their mission or values. Understanding the nuts and bolts of writing each document is crucial for success.
But the hard part isn't the physical writing. You've been writing for decades at this point. You know how to put sentences together.
The hard part is dealing with all the emotions that get tied up in writing. I remember agonizing over my own documents. My writing was fine. The agony came from all the thoughts about the documents:
- "I'm not good enough."
- "Why would anyone want to hire me?"
- "No one is going to want to hire me."
- "I should have published more."
- "What if they judge me for phrasing it this way?"
- "I am a horrible writer after all."
- "I should have gone after more grants or funding."
- "Who came up with the word pedagogy anyways? Let me Google that and fall down a rabbit hole of searching."
Those thoughts would cycle around in loops in my head. The key to breaking through the thought patterns was to catch myself in the pattern. And then reach out for help to trusted resources.
Friends who are also on the job market can be a great source of comfort. Graduate advisors and mentors can give helpful support. Therapists and counselors can help you process your thoughts and beliefs.
As an academic coach, I help my clients on the job market on several fronts:
- First, we make sure they have built in the time on their schedule to actually write the document.
- Then, we strategize about how to stick to the schedule instead of ignoring it.
- We talk about barriers that might get in the way and how to overcome them. Procrastination isn't isolated to our students!
- We talk about the things that are not obvious to outsiders. For example, a job posting may seem broad and open to any qualified candidate. But a little research can lead to understanding what the department actually wants.
- I read over documents to help edit and make suggestions.
- I cheer them on as their determination and resolve starts to waver. It's a journey and they need support at time points along the way.
If you're headed on to the job market, do you need individual help? Let's talk.
List your tips and tricks below in the comments so others can learn from your experiences!