academic job search

This post continues our new series, The Smart Scholar, which explores the attributes and qualities that make a successful academic applicant.

In my two previous posts, I discussed the under-appreciated skills for scholars on the job market and two practices that are useful for underrepresented scholars in the academy. While these approaches will certainly support your ability to be an ideal candidate, it is equally important to explore how you manage multiple applications. Thus, for this post I would like to focus on the actual job search.

Below are three tips on how you can enhance your organizational and logistical approach to your search for your next academic position.

Keeping up with where jobs are posted and shared

Do you know where to find jobs for your discipline? If not, start by reaching out to your scholarly village and learn where you can find opportunities. Generally, academic positions are listed on university websites. However, because of the amount of work it takes to look at individual university websites, there are many job forums that cover jobs across disciplines:

  • Higher Ed Jobs
  • Chronicle Vitae
  • Inside Higher Ed

In addition to general job boards, there are discipline-specific venues to find jobs.  For instance, in my field of education, job seekers can find positions on:

As an applicant you must allocate time to learn where jobs in your discipline are located and keep them bookmarked on your web browser.

Develop a tracking system to keep up with due dates

If you are open to a variety of opportunities, you may be applying to 10 or more positions during the job season. Given the quantity, it is vital that you have a tracking system to keep up with the various due dates. When I work with my dissertation clients who are on the job market I have them keep an Excel spreadsheet with headers (like the example below) in order to keep up with all of the requirements. Additionally, in order to ensure I did not miss a due date I would review the document every day.

Apply for jobs where you are a fit

When searching for jobs, conventional advice may be to apply for as many openings as possible so you have the greatest chance to secure a job. I would caution against this mantra when searching for academic positions. As a faculty member, I can observe that being on a search committee takes a lot of work. Search committees are responsible for:

  • Screening applications
  • Conducting phone and in-person interviews
  • Taking candidates on tours of the university and city
  • Deliberating to make a hiring recommendation

Given the amount of time involved in the search process, it is in your best interest as an applicant to apply to jobs that are a fit for your skillset as well as your career aspirations. I suggest taking this approach because if you are not a good fit for a position, the odds are your application will not proceed past application review. Due to the competitiveness of the job academic market, there are many applicants who are a direct fit for the position and meet all the criteria. This competitive market ultimately leads to search committees weeding out applications early in the process. My suggestion? As the applicant, your first job is to do your homework on a role and confidently apply only if you are an ideal candidate for a job.

Do you have a system you use to stay on top of your job search? If so, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@ramongoings) as the academic community would love to hear about innovative ways to stay organized on your job hunt.

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).