Navigating the Search

Specifics of the job search vary by industry, academic discipline, and even employer. Searching for an academic position differs significantly from looking for jobs in other sectors. Once you have launched a search, it is a good idea to engage your mentors and to reach out to the individuals in your professional network, including graduate student colleagues past and present, faculty, staff, friends and other professional connections. You never know who might know about a position or be acquainted with the person reviewing your application.

Self Presentation

Thinking about and practicing the presentation of your professional self, both the written and in-person versions, is essential to a successful job search. Regardless of the position you seek, you will need to talk with individuals who have a range of familiarity with your research focus and others who might not know much about what it means to be a graduate student pursuing an advanced degree.

Tip: Practice talking about your research, skills and interests to a variety of audiences — graduate school colleagues in and outside of your program, parents and grandparents, non-graduate school friends, etc.

Develop an elevator pitch (or a few), a very brief overview of who you are as a professional (30 seconds or less). It should be short, focused, memorable, and keep in mind the audience. Use concrete examples, even a story. And remember, you  your dissertation research.

Tip: If you were in charge of hiring a new employee, how would you go about learning more about them? You would probably Google them, right? Do you know what information is generated about you if a future employer put your name into google? Consider shaping your digital identity by attending a workshop at the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship.

Interviews, Job Talks and Negotiation

Interviews can take many forms and include many different kinds of questions: phone, skype, in-person, behavioral, situational, case, panel and even the impromptu interview (when you don’t know you are being interviewed). The best way to prepare for an interview is to practice doing mock interviews. It is easy enough to look at a list of frequently asked interview questions, but it is a whole other experience to practice answering those questions out loud in front of another person.

While most job searches include several stages, the last stage of the academic job search usually requires a job talk and/or a teaching demonstration. These take different forms depending on the discipline and the type of institution in which you will be interviewing.

Tip: Talk with your faculty mentors and recent graduates about how best to prepare yourself for these aspects of the job search experience.

The best case scenario at the end of the job search is an offer that you can negotiate. Of course, negotiation can be overwhelming. The most important thing you do to prepare for negotiation is your research. Find out as much as you can about the institution or organization.

Tip: Public institutions are required to post salary information and the American Association of University Professors’ faculty salary survey can also be informative and help guide you. Glassdoor and can also be useful resources for the non-academic negotiation.

Throughout the job search, but particularly when negotiating, it is important to know your own priorities and values. Your job is just one part of your life and you need to make professional choices that support your personal needs and expectations. Employers want to hire a person who will be successful in the position and be committed to the job and the organization.

Tip: Use the job search as a time to reflect on what’s most important to your professional and personal identity.