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This expert advice comes from Briana K Keller, PhD., Associate Director, The Career Center, University of Washington 

Plan Ahead

  • Start networking and analyzing interesting position descriptions early in grad school.
  • Spend time learning what it's really like to be a faculty member at different types of schools.
  • Research the job search timeline in your field a year before you apply.
  • Begin crafting your application materials several months prior to submitting them for jobs.

Maximize Your Chances

  • Make significant progress on your dissertation before applying.
  • Get some teaching experience, preferably with different types of students in various settings.
  • Make yourself known by attending conferences and publishing your work.
  • Serve your department, university, or discipline through committees or other leadership roles.

Prepare Yourself Mentally

  • Assess your readiness and be honest about your institutional biases.
  • Realize the academic job search process is a lengthy, intense marketing endeavor.
  • Practice detachment, as rejection is part of the process.
  • Develop strategies to manage your time, stress, and health.

Don't Go It Alone

  • Maintain communication with your advisor and letter writers.
  • Connect with other job-searching grad students, as well as new faculty hires.
  • Check to see if your university's career center has services for grad students -- workshops, handouts, CV reviews, mock interviews, letter of recommendation programs, alumni networks, etc.
  • Use other campus resources such as instructional centers, the Graduate School, and Preparing Future Faculty initiatives.
  • Ask your department if it provides job search support.

Diversify your Approach

  • Find interesting opportunities by networking, visiting with colleagues, and having your professors advocate for you.
  • Utilize professional associations' online jobs boards, email lists, newsletter classifieds, and conference interviews.
  • Search a variety of online job posting sites in higher education and in your discipline.
  • Look for positions on the websites of universities that interest you.

Take the Process Seriously

  • Carefully proofread your application materials (and/or have somebody proofread them for you).
  • Research the institutions, departments, and positions to which you're applying.
  • Tailor your materials to each position.
  • Practice answering interview questions, giving your job talk, and addressing negotiation queries.


Related Resources
Vick, J. M., & Furlong, J. S. (2008). The academic job search handbook (4th ed). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 


About the Author:  Briana has worked in the career development field for over 10 years.  She earned her master’s degree in counseling from the University of Kansas and her doctoral degree in counseling psychology from Indiana University. Briana has worked at the University of Washington Career Center since September 2004 and is currently an Associate Director.