Paul Kei Matsuda

Academic Job Search

Academic job search for Ph.D. candidates in my fields (applied linguistics, rhetoric and composition, TESOL) usually begins in the fall of the final year of dissertation when you have at least one or two chapters written and approved by your committee chair.

When you go on the job market for your first tenure-track job, do an all-out search (i.e., applying for all the positions you wouldn't mind taking) rather than a limited search (i.e., applying for selected positions).

In most cases, it would be wise not to start a job search just to "test the water." Whether you are applying for a few positions or many, it will be a half-time job. Unless you already have a lot of publications under your belt, the time is better spent focusing on writing for publication. If you go on the market prmaturely, you are likely to waste your and your advisor's time (as well as the search committees' time). Even if you get an offer, the demand of the new position might make it extremely difficult to finish your dissertation, and you may waste your precious time you should be spending for earning your tenure.

In late September, MLA (Modern Lanugage Association of America) publishes the larges job list of the year (aka the October List), listing many tenure-track positions. A majority of tenure-track positions have early to mid-November deadlines, though it's beginning to change. Many rhetoric and composition search committees set earlier deadlines, trying to grab the best candidate before anyone else.

Job ads are also circulated through The Chronicle of Higher Education as well as relevant websites and mailing lists in the field.

After the initial screening, the first round of job interviews for entry-level positions often take place at MLA, which is usually scheduled at the last few days of the calendar year. Interviews for linguistics jobs often take place at LSA (Linguistic Society of America), which is usually scheduled right after MLA.

Increasingly, institutions are using phone interviews in November or December instead of having interviews at conferences.

Some of the documents you will need to prepare include:

  • Job application letters
  • Curriculum vitae (aka CV, vita)
  • Dossier, including: Three letters of recommendation
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • Writing samples (published articles and book chapters, dissertation chapters, manuscripts under consideration, etc.)
  • Teaching portfolio, which might include: Teaching philosophy statements, descriptions and rationale for courses taught, sample syllabi, and teaching evaluation.

You may not use all of these for the initial application, but once you make the first cut, you will find that different hiring committees ask for different sets of materials. Even if you don't use all of them, the process of developing these documents will help you prepare for the interviews.

If you are planning to apply for positions that involve graduate-level teaching, you might want to develop your "ideal" syllabi for some of the core courses (e.g., composition theory, research methods) and a course in the area of your specialization.

For more information about the job search process in English, see:

Showalter, English, Howard Figler, Lori G. Kletzer, Jack H. Schuster, Seth R. Katz. The MLA Guide to the Job Search: A Handbook for Departments and for PhDs and PhD Candidates in English and Foreign Languages. New York: MLA, 1996.

This is a helpful guide, except there is a passage that seems to encourages English departments to discriminate against nonnative English speakers.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Last update: January 6, 2008