Key Materials for an Academic Job Search

Once you’ve mapped out your timeline, determine what materials you need to develop. Review sample job postings to learn more about what materials you’ll be asked to submit. Do the job postings in your field ask for a curriculum vitae? Will you need to provide “evidence of effective teaching”?

For most faculty positions, you’ll almost always need to submit a cover letter and a CV. Other materials you may be asked to submit include a professional statement of purpose, a research statement, a teaching statement, a writing sample, sample course syllabi, and evidence of effective teaching.

When preparing your materials, keep these perspectives in mind:

  • Your goal in writing the cover letter is to briefly show a match with the readers' needs and to get readers interested enough to read more about your specific qualifications in your CV.
  • The goal of writing both your cover letter and CV is to show you're a good fit for the position requirements and the departmental culture so you get an interview.
  • The goal of the personal interview is to get the job.

It’s never too early to prepare for the academic job search. Participate in the Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program to learn more about faculty roles and responsibilities. Explore the different missions of various higher education institutions and determine which ones are a good fit for you. Talk with your faculty advisor about your job search. Participate in several informational interviews with faculty in your department and, if possible, faculty from other institutions to learn more about their experiences in applying for academic positions.

Collect materials for your job search now. Keep copies of your student evaluations. Construct your CV and keep it up to date. Use your CV to determine any gaps in your professional development and begin looking for opportunities to engage in activities that will increase your marketability. Draft your research and teaching statements, and get feedback.

There are numerous books available detailing the academic job search process. Here are just a few to consider:

The MLA Guide to the Job Search: A Handbook for Departments and for PhDs and PhD Candidates in English and Foreign Languages (1997)

Boss, J. & Eckert, S. Academic Scientists at Work (2006)

Coghill-Behrends W., & Anthon, R. The PhD Handbook for the Academic Job Search: An owner's manual for finding jobs. (2012)

Lucas, C. J. & Murry, J. W. New Faculty: A Practical Guide for Academic Beginners (2011)

Vick, J. M. & Furlong, J. S. The Academic Job Search Handbook.(2008) University of Pennsylvania Press