Explore the steps to take when looking for an academic job, and find important resources for the process of finding, applying for, and interviewing for a job. Most of these steps can begin in the year or two before you plan to enter the job market.

Steps You Can Take

Participate in Career Center Workshops on Applying for Academic Positions

Each fall the Career Center offers a series of excellent workshops, including ones on the academic job search. Career Counselors for graduate students are also available for individual consultations. See the Career Center’s web pages devoted to doctoral students and postdocs for resources to guide you in all steps in the academic job search, from searching for positions and preparing materials to interviewing and negotiating an offer.


Identify Open Job and Postdoctoral Positions

Applying for academic positions typically begins long before you complete your degree. For example, some search committees will begin reviewing applications as early as August or September, a year before the position’s start date. Plan to dedicate substantial time in your final year or years of the degree program to identifying openings and creating application materials. 

To find openings, take a look at job boards hosted by academic associations in your field and related fields. Often, these job boards are only visible to association members.

Other key job boards for a variety of academic positions include:


Develop a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

As the Berkeley Career Center notes, “Constructing an effective CV is an iterative process.” It is a useful exercise to develop multiple types of CVs especially when applying to different types of colleges and universities. Be sure, as well, to update and reorganize them as necessary—it is much easier to keep a CV updated as you go than to work backward at a later date. Following disciplinary conventions in presenting your accomplishments on your CV is essential. We recommend having it reviewed by your primary advisor.

See “The CV: Part 1 Overview” and “The CV: Part 2 Elements,” University of California, Berkeley, Career Center and “Part IV: Job Documents that Work” in the book The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky, available as an ebook from the Library.


Develop Cover Letters

The cover letter for a job application is a professional genre; as such, it will necessarily differ in form and content across fields and types of institutions you are applying to. Research what different cover letters look like for your field. Your department may retain a file of successful cover letters from previous students, or you may be able to consult more advanced students to track down examples. Once you have compiled a collection of sample letters, develop different versions of your own for the types of academic positions you are considering.

For advice on writing an academic cover letter, see “The Cover Letter,” University of California, Berkeley, Career Center and “Part IV: Job Documents that Work” in the book The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky, available as an ebook from the Library. In particular, read the section on tailoring to determine how much effort you should put into adjusting your cover letter for every new job application.

You can also refer to “The Basics of Cover Letter Writing,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2000); “How to Write Appealing Cover Letters,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2000); and “What You Don’t Know About Cover Letters,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2002).


Write a Teaching Statement

Applications for academic positions often ask candidates to submit a teaching statement or philosophy that reflects their pedagogical experience and philosophy within their particular discipline. To get started with writing a statement of teaching philosophy, consider attending the GSI Teaching & Resource Center’s recurring workshop on Developing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy and Teaching Portfolio. See slides and resources from these workshops in the Center’s Online Library.

Also see “Part IV: Job Documents that Work” in the book The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky, available as an ebook from the Library.

Other resources from The Chronicle of Higher Education that may be helpful to you in writing a teaching statement include the articles “How to Write a Statement of Teaching Philosophy,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2003) and “4 Steps to a Memorable Teaching Philosophy,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2010).

Take advantage of one-on-one consultations offered to graduate students who are in or preparing for the academic job search, where you can have your teaching-related materials reviewed and receive feedback. Finally, the GSI Teaching & Resource Center offers a workshop each spring on Teaching & the Academic Job Search.


Write a Diversity Statement for Job Applications

Today it has become increasingly common for academic job applications to ask candidates to submit a so-called diversity statement. This may be requested as a part of the cover letter, incorporated in the teaching statement, or as a separate document. For this statement, scholars are typically asked how their teaching, research, service, and advising does or would contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion at the institution, department, and discipline in question. Make sure this statement is not a perfunctory exercise but an opportunity to reflect on your teaching and research practices. To learn more about what to include and not to include in a diversity statement by reading “What Is a Diversity Statement, Anyway?” in the book The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky.

Some other resources that may be helpful in writing a diversity statement include:



Write a Research Statement

Most academic job postings will request a research statement, which allows you to elaborate on your contribution to your field, and plans for future research. Conventions for research statements vary widely, so ask trusted advisors about what is the norm in your field, and pay particular attention to what is requested in job descriptions. Typically, you can create one research statement that does not need to be tailored for each academic job, but you may need to create research statements of varying lengths so that you can follow job posting directions on expected page count. For clear advice on what to include in a research statement, read Chapter 27, “The Research Statement” in the book The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky.


Prepare for Interviews, Job Talks, and the Campus Visit

The initial job interviews for academic positions typically follow a standard format, where you can expect questions to touch on some or all of seven general categories. For the interview, academic coach Karen Kelsky advises that you should prepare to answer questions on: your dissertation; your short and long term publishing plans; your place in the field; courses you can teach; your teaching philosophy; your interests in contributing to the program; and your understanding of the hiring department. For detailed advice on preparing for the interview, job talk, and campus visits, see “Part V: Techniques of the Academic Job Market” in Kelsky’s book The Professor Is In.

Before presenting your research in an on-campus interview, you should practice in front of multiple audiences in a timed setting and get feedback on the content and delivery of your talk. Many departments create opportunities for graduate students to give practice job talks in a departmental seminar series or in the context of research group meetings. Ask the audience to anticipate and pose questions that may also be asked in the actual on-campus rendition of the talk. Ask for feedback on various aspects of your delivery, such as how clear it was, whether you spoke quickly or slowly, and if you engaged the audience.

Consider attending the Berkeley Career Center’s workshop on “Nailing the Job Talk.” This recurring workshop usually takes place in the fall, so check the Career Center’s events calendar

For additional advice on how to prepare an academic job talk, see the book The Professor Is In; “Talking the Talk,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2013); “Giving a Job Talk in the Sciences,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2001); and “The Job Market: The Campus Interview,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2017).