Posted in Recap, The job search

Recap: #ECRChat on The Academic Job Search, 7th November 2013

Today’s chat was hosted by Claire Evans (@bookworm_29), who is an early career researcher who completed her PhD at Cardiff University in March 2013.  The chat was about ‘The academic job search’ and aimed to demystify the process of applying for academic jobs and potentially generated ideas for #ECRchats in the future. 

Q1: What do we mean by an ‘academic job’? What types of jobs do finishing PhDers & ECRs look for?

  • The main two types of jobs discussed were lectureships and post-doc positions, with one participant commenting that the lectureship is the dream job, but any research position will do!
  • There was some debate as to what type of job was more dominant following the completion of a PhD, with the suggestion that it might (as often is the case) depend on the discipline.
  • Mention of jobs outside of academia (i.e. independent researcher opportunities and jobs in industry) is a reminder that post-PhD, people need not limit themselves to academia

Q2: How do you find academic jobs? Does anyone have any recommendations for good sources?

Several options were suggested by chatters including:

  • University Career/HR Pages and RSS feeds
  • Specialist mailing lists
  • Social networking sites (e.g. Twitter)
  • Professional forums
  • Developing and tapping into relevant networks
  • Taking on part-time positions in departments to broaden your chances and networks

Q3: What sorts of issues do ECRs face when looking for academic jobs? Does anyone have any stories they are happy to share?

Participants raised the following points/questions as part of the discussion:

  • Geographical location (willingness/ability or not of being able to relocate)
  • Family commitments (inc. difficulty of your partner to find employment as well if you were to relocate)
  • In the current climate there are simply not enough jobs for completing PhD students
  • Importance of having a good track record, being known and demonstrating potential
  • Three key questions that arose in the discussion were:
  1. Where to start?
  2. To consider what your long-term aims are in academia (as this will influence the types of jobs you will be looking for)
  3. How to turn part-time employment into a full-time career?

Q4: So let’s say you’ve managed to find an opening: What are some of the ‘do’s and don’ts when making an application for an academic job?

This question generated a lot of ideas from chatters including:

  • Be sensitive to the culture around you (one participant said that this might be especially relevant in cultures where being modest is important; see point below)
  • Balance being humble and selling yourself.  Some chatters talked of the importance of selling yourself to potential employees and being honest about your success.
  • Tailor the application to the job and selection criteria
  • If you are unsure of the above, one participant suggested that you could directly ask employers what they are looking for and how you will be evaluated at interview.
  • Email and ask ‘nice questions’ before applying
  • Understand and acknowledge the expectations of the university, potential collaboration, and where your research fits in with research groups in the department
  •  Be clear about your career path and ‘let them know who you are and what motivates you’
  • Publish
  • Don’t lie

Q5: Lot’s of great advice here. Before we end: Are there any other unanswered questions or ideas that you have about the job hunt?

At this point in the discussion chatters continued to discuss Question 4, but three particular points/questions that arose were:

  1. Keep an eye out for opportunities even if you are not specifically looking for a job (it’s always good to know what is out there)
  2. How do you deal with imposter syndrome?
  3. When should you start applying for opportunities?

One response to this was that, if the right opportunities arise then it is always worth applying.

Thank you to everyone for such an engaging chat and to the #ECRChat team for letting me host.  The full conversation, including many useful links that were shared, is available via storify.




Academic, political tragic. Northern Rivers, NSW, Australia.

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