This post continues our series, The Smart Scholar, on preparing for the academic job market.

The months of May and June are an exciting time for colleges and universities as students are preparing for graduation and our higher education colleagues make announcements of their new positions. Bearing in mind the summer shuffle of individuals in higher education and slew of new graduates, it is important to be prepared for the academic job market—especially because it is extremely competitive.

However, where do you begin? In this post I provide three suggestions on best preparing yourself to enter the academic market.

Update your job materials

While the summer time is typically slow for open positions in higher education, it is the perfect time to update your materials such as:

For instance, have you had any experiences over the past year that would position you as a vital candidate in your field? If so, update your materials so that when search committees come across your documents, they have the opportunity to see these new experiences. Also, if you have had some gaps in your higher education employment, I would suggest you update your cover letter to explain why this was the case. This is helpful for search committees who may first see your resume and have questions about your gaps. I always believe setting the narrative for yourself as the candidate is better than leaving it up to the discretion of the individuals reading your materials.

Subscribing to the job forums in your field

Part of the work of entering the job market is keeping abreast of the job opportunities. As a result, it is helpful to subscribe to the various job forums in your field so that you know when positions of interest are open. As I described in a previous post, you should continue to keep a spreadsheet of the various jobs you are applying for and their due dates (more on due dates below). This will ensure you get letters of recommendation and other materials completed prior to the job posting deadline.

Read postings carefully for job material deadlines

While this may seem common sense, it is critical that you read job descriptions and specifically take note of the deadlines. For instance, does the posting state a “priority deadline” and also that the job will remain open until filled? My advice here would be to make sure your materials are submitted by the priority deadline as that may be when the search committee will actually begin to review materials. If for some reason you miss the priority deadline, reach out to the chair of the search committee who can provide insight into the status of the search and if submitting your materials would be a viable option at that point in the process.

What advice do you all have on preparing for the academic job market? Please share them with me on Twitter (@ramongoings).

Interfolio’s Dossier enables scholars to collect, curate, polish and send out their materials at all stages throughout their academic professional path. Learn more about Dossier here.

Author Bio: Dr. Ramon B. Goings is an assistant professor of educational leadership at Loyola University Maryland. His research examines gifted/high-achieving Black male academic success PreK-PhD, diversifying the teacher and school leader workforce, and the student experience and contributions of historically Black colleges and universities to the higher education landscape. As a writing coach and editor, Dr. Goings enjoys supporting the scholarly development of doctoral students and professors in higher education. For more information about Dr. Goings, please visit his website and follow him on Twitter (@ramongoings).