Dave Stamps: Four things to do NOW to prepare for the job market

By Dave Stamps.  Posted July 31, 2014.

Having recently navigated the gauntlet of the academic job market, I would like to share a few tips that I found helpful during the process.

  1. Stay current with the trends of your particular industry.
    The way that you learned (or were taught) may not be the modus operandi of the job market when you graduate.  Try to stay in the now by attending conferences, observing your peers, and reading every publication that you possibly can (trade journals, online forums and discussion boards, blogs, etc.).
  2. Develop an identity and expertise that sets you apart from others.
    While it is important to be able to fit in with the Jones’s, having a specialized niche will go a long way in helping you stand out.  You may feel that your past experiences may not be of relevance, but your unique past can be very attractive to potential employers.
  3. Learn to market yourself.
    As scholars, we often shy away from self-promotion.  This can be a detriment to your advancement, however.  With 25 to 40% of Americans working for themselves in some capacity (consulting, commissions, collaborations, etc.), learning to promote your niche identity will benefit you tremendously when you are looking for supplemental income.  In this day and age, it is important to put out a healthy public image of yourself.
  4. Have job interview materials ready in advance.
    Do not wait until you are applying for jobs to draft bios, resumés, CVs, teaching philosophies, research statements, and/or cover letters.  These documents take a lot of time to put together and hustling through them is not going to help your chances.  If everything is ready to go, you can use that time to research the position you are applying to and then customize your documents to better fit the job posting.  Check out theprofessorisin.com for candid (and often humorous) blogs that offer very blunt advice on these types of documents and the academic job search in general.