Tips for the job market

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The academic job market can be a daunting experience, but it is also a key moment in your career.

The whole process is more of an art than a science, especially if during your PhD you have had little preparation on how to face the market, shape your profile and make yourself employable. Although there is no magic recipe, it is surely useful to read about experiences from colleagues on both sides of the market.

 

Regardless of whether you are/were an interviewer or an interviewee, share with us your tips and advice for a fruitful job market experience!

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  • Dimos Andronoudis's picture
    Dimos Andronoudis
    December 12, 2017 10:05 PM

    As a recent job-market canditate, one useally reflects back to what characteristecs, attitudes and behaviours helped or would have helped if employed better. In my case those amass to three items.
    1) Be cool (no matter what is thrown at you, try to respond in the appropriate manner without sentiment as much as possible).
    2) Be calm (try to manage your stress, you tend to talk incomprehensively and you spin-off topics if you let stress take over).
    3) Be confident (make sure that what little you know -about your research and in general- you know 100% in order to confidently defend your views in a debate).

    Needless to say, that neither I, nor any job market candidate will master these items. You just have to be realistic, critical to yourself and try to improve over time.

  • Claudia Imperatore's picture
    Claudia Imperatore
    December 12, 2017 10:18 PM

    Dear all,
    Identifying tips for the job market is not an easy task. I am sure that those that passed through the process received a lot of advices and suggestions during the job market period from a number of "sources"..Here i want to share with you just three of them..i am sure that others will come!
    1. Be organized for sending your applications. I mean, don't wait too long to look for job postings. Schools can post them very early and it is important to start keeping an eye on them on a frequent basis. In addition, i find it useful to "store" the information in the job postings in an organized way in an attempt to keep track of the deadline, the documents that should be sent (jmp, cv, research statement, teaching statement, cover letter, number of reference letters) and how the application should be sent (e-mail or electronic portal). In this way, you can have the material ready for the application and don't miss any school!
    2. Practice, practice, practice your job market presentation. You should be able to summarize your job market paper in a short sentence , in 5 minutes and 15 minutes. A short sentence to immediately reply to the question "what is your job market paper about", 5 minutes when the recruiter gives more time to explain your paper and 15 minutes for the rookie camp. The 15 minutes speech is also useful for the flyout as you will be able to immediately deliver the key message of your paper.
    3. If you get interviews and/or flyouts, spend time to know more about the department that invited you. Check the profile of the school, department and people working there. It is useful to understand whether you can fit in that place and to have questions to ask avoiding silence during the conversation. Furthermore, it will signal that you are interested in the school.
    I hope they wil be useful and i look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions!
    Best,
    Claudia

  • Mariya Ivanova's picture
    Mariya Ivanova
    December 14, 2017 10:25 AM

    Dear all,
    Below are some job market tips based on my humble experience:

    >Prepare your job market package early. Probably the best time to do it is over the summer so you have sufficient time to update and improve it before the actual application process starts.

    >Keep track of application deadlines. Although this seems straightforward, application deadlines tend to vary a lot and are very easy to miss.

    >Practice your job market presentation in front of an audience whenever possible. Often, if you are practicing all by yourself, it is hard (even impossible) to determine whether what you are saying is clear, whether your slides make sense/are easy to read/are free from typos, whether you are speaking too fast, etc. A mock presentation in front of your colleagues and ideally some faculty members at least two weeks before your job market presentation will help tremendously.

    >Remember to rest. Most certainly, you have many things going on at the same time: teaching, preparing papers for journal submissions, defending your thesis, flyouts, etc. Most of these activities are mentally and physically exhausting and not taking enough time to rest can hurt your health and performance. Keep in mind that it is perfectly fine (and encouraged) to take a day off now and then.

    Best of luck!
    Mariya

  • Nikos Tsileponis's picture
    Nikos Tsileponis
    December 14, 2017 01:16 PM

    Here are my tips to job market participants:
    a) Prepare the following documents: Job market paper, CV, cover letter (introduction, research interests, current research and agenda, funding, teaching experience, why that University? and potential collaborations).
    b) Create a summary table with a list of schools, deadlines and required documents.
    c) Possible interview questions: Why this department? Ambitions in 5 years? How do you plan to obtain funding? Teaching experience? Try to do a mock interview with your supervisors or other academics in A&F.
    d) Some tips: (1) Rehearse your presentation several times and make sure you finish on time. Allow some time for questions (usually 10-15 minutes), (2) Keep eye contact with the audience during the presentation, (3) Write down on a piece of paper answers to possible interview questions, (4) On the day of your interview/presentation, don’t forget you are being evaluated at all times, even during lunch and dinner (!), and (5) Look at the REF timetable up to 5 years to come.
    e) Try to be able to answer the following questions: (1) Would the real-world decision-makers care for your research? Who cares and why? (E.g. investors, government, analysts, regulators, etc.), (2) What is your research agenda? (plan for the next 5-10 years?) Employers want an A* potential.
    f) Think of potential questions to ask the interviewers. For example: Is there internal funding for research? What type of support do you provide to new members of staff? (e.g., reduced teaching load, a senior member of staff acting as mentor etc.).
    g) The following paper might be useful to you: Butler and Crack “The Academic Job Market in Finance: An Updated Rookie’s Guide”. Available on SSRN (Note: useful mostly for the U.S. job market).
    h) Final tips (on the day of your interview): (1) Structure your answers and respond as clearly as you can, (2) Try to be confident, (3) Take a pen and paper with you so that you can take notes, (4) Be dressed professionally.

  • Giulia Redigolo's picture
    Giulia Redigolo
    December 14, 2017 03:22 PM

    Dear All,
    I do share what has been written by other participants of this forum and I think it is truly valuable. I take the chance to stress/add up some tips based on my job market experience:
    - Not enough said: have your whole job market package prepared well in advance. Applying well before the application deadlines is a signal of interest. Keep accurate track of deadlines, required materials, recommendation letters submissions.
    - Practice, practice and practice. Mock presentation and mock interviews with PhD colleagues/faculty/supervisor is essential. Be trained on three types of presentation: ´´elevator pitch´´; a 15-20 minutes presentation for rookie camp; the job market seminar (usually 1hr and 15-30 min depending on the institution). Also, know deeply ALL of your works, not just the job market paper and be prepared to discuss those as well.
    - Be confident while presenting your paper, but also during informal chats and interviews. Try to be fresh and friendly. There is no need to be defensive or confrontational. Remember that schools are looking for a researcher, but also for a colleague and teacher.
    - Get a good knowledge about the institution/department that is interviewing you. Spend a bit of
    time on their website understanding their output, their audience, their structure. Know what people at their department do and what they have been working on. Have a set of questions/points to be shared when doing one-to-one interviews.
    - When it comes to flyouts, try not to give your job talk for the first time at your “favorite” school(s); if possible give the talk somewhere else first.
    - Be wise and group trips together. Schools in general will be happy to try to coordinate your visits, saving you time and lowering their costs.
    - Do not forget ¨thank you¨ emails after your campus visit and be responsive to subsequent communication.
    Hope it helps!
    Best, Giulia

  • Andrea Bafundi's picture
    Andrea Bafundi
    December 14, 2017 05:57 PM

    Dear All,
    The Job market experience is an intensive step for a Ph.D. student. My first recommendation is to take it as a marathon. The most important part is to be ready for it. Firstly, I suggest working on your job market package. Make sure all the material you include have been revised by both you and your supervisor. Secondly, I recommend starting looking for those universities where you would be happy to work for. Make a list of places where there might be a potential fit regarding research interests between you and future colleagues. This step is fundamental for not being “isolated” regarding research interests. Thirdly, you have to understand that every university has its mechanism and time in evaluating your cv, and making the invitation. The length of the process can vary, and it does not depend on you. Prepare yourself to wait even for the entire academic year. Some candidates got their jobs also a couple of weeks before starting their new jobs.
    Hope it helps.
    Regards,
    Andrea

  • filip@essec.edu's picture
    filip@essec.edu
    December 15, 2017 10:23 PM

    I am writing these tips for the job-market in my new position on “the other side of the table”. i.e. as a recruiter. Like all good schools, every year-end we receive some dozens of files and we only have limited time to screen these files. The rookie camp organized in Madrid has been of great help these last years, but we still have very limited insights about the candidates. It is after all a job market with a high information asymmetry between the offer and the demand. Having this in mind, here are my top three tips:

    1) Prepare your application well in advance. If we can associate a face with a file … you definitely have higher chances to be invited for an interview. You need to make systematic and continuous efforts to increase your network during your PhD studies. Conferences, research seminars, and other academic events should all be seen as opportunities to meet people. If you know that you are going to target certain schools, make sure that you mingle with the faculty during conferences.

    2) Adjust your application package to the school. When I am reading the files, I have two questions in mind: would the candidate fit with the department and is she/he actually interested in joining the school. A standardized application form that you send to all schools does not help. Personally, I have the habit to carefully read the cover letter, while replacing the name of my school with a different name. If the cover letter still makes sense… it is not a good signal. As a recruiter, we have a limited number of fly-outs and we do not want to use a “joker” on a candidate that has no serious interest in joining the school (even if the research is outstanding).

    3) make sure you understand how the job-market is functioning. If everything goes well, the first schools that you visit are the first ones who are going to make offers. The problem is that the offers have usually a (very) short deadline so you will have to make up your mind fast. If these schools happen to be “the second best-choice” on your list…you might end-up in an uncomfortable position. Timing is critical and often is beyond your control. But you need to plan at your best and try to schedule the interviews in an order that maximizes the chances to get the position that you want.

    Good luck!