Academic Job Search


How Career & Professional Development Services Can Help You

Conducting an academic job search takes time, commitment, and organization. The SPH Career & Professional Development Services counselors can help you with the job search process (from finding opportunities, reviewing a cover letter or curriculum vita, practicing interviewing, to negotiating and evaluating a job offer. Contact SPH Career & Professional Development Services to set up an appointment with a counselor: Vic Massaglia ( or Darren Kaltved ( Taking advantage of their assistance and the information in this guide will help you get started on your journey of a successful job search!

Knowing Yourself

Why should you take time to reflect on who you are, what you value, and what you seek in a career prior to conducting an academic job search? Successful academic job searchers recommend starting early. For example, one said that the following were the most important factors in the job search: “starting to plan the search at least a year before it begins and really understanding what I want in a job and what I bring to the positions that interest me.” Understanding your career goals, expectations and potential contributions are critical to making sure you are headed in the direction that is best for you. Before investing time, energy and resources, think about what aspects of an academic career matter most to you. The following resources offer job candidates tools for clarifying their strengths, hopes, and possible next steps in professional development, as well as considering what constitutes a “best fit” in terms of academic setting and position. Identifying “best fit” during the early stages of career planning is essential for managing yourself and your time while on the job market.

Understanding Your Strengths

In order to capitalize on your strengths, Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts, a researcher, professor, and organizational consultant, suggests that as job seekers you need to:

1. gather feedback from people who know and observe you at and beyond work,

2. recognize patterns in that feedback,

3. create a self-portrait from that data, and

4. develop a personalized job description to understand what type of job you seek – and where you possess strengths for that desired position, as well as where you might engage in a bit of professional development before beginning a job search.

Creating Your Individual Development Plan (IDP)

The IDP aims to help graduate students and post-doctoral scholars transition into the proactive, independent stages of researching and planning career directions. The IDP allows for individual reflection as well as conversation with mentors and career development specialists through a revolving four-step process:

  • Step one is to conduct a self-assessment, in collaboration with mentors, peers and colleagues, to identify your short and long-term goals, areas of strength and areas needing further development, action steps required to meet your goals and the timeline.
  • Step two is to write the actual IDP, again in consultation with mentors and individuals who know you well.
  • Step three is to implement the plan by utilizing various resources (human and electronic) and adhering, as much as possible, to set timelines.
  • Step four, which emerges as you reach a certain goal(s) or if you discover that your interests have changed, is to evaluate and revise the IDP, which leads you back to step one—self-assessment.
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