Academic Job Search and Timeline

Academic job search

Whether seeking a post-doc fellowship, adjunct teaching job or a tenure track position, start your search early by developing your network. The job search should start one year before you graduate. Become familiar with the market, ask for support from others and begin applying. Take advantage of opportunities to present, attend professional development on your campus and on other campuses. It will be expected that you have accumulated several examples of research, articles and presentations by the time you complete your dissertation.

Required professional documents

  • Keep your Curriculum Vitae current and ready to send or share.
  • Consider creating a professional webpage.
  • Develop your teaching philosophy, or similar statement, per your field.
  • Cover letters–specific to the position and the institution.
  • Three to five professional references.
  • Credentials, transcripts, writing samples, dissertation chapter, etc.

Define your search

  • Institution characteristics - research intensive, teaching focus, public, private, community college, undergraduate, graduate, online, etc.
  • Determine your skills–classroom techniques, lab, instruments, etc.
  • Geography–close to family, international, Midwest, urban area, rural, etc.
  • Teaching subjects–where is your expertise, what courses can you teach.

Track your applications

  • Consider using a spreadsheet to track the positions you have applied to and the details of the search process. Color code your spreadsheet for easy reference.
  • Consider creating a file for each opening, with a copy of your cover letter, job description and correspondence received from the institution. 

Sources for Academic Positions

Timeline for the Academic Job Search

As you enter your final year of doctoral work, you may be struggling with the demands of defending your dissertation, completing your research, teaching or assisting faculty and beginning the process of obtaining an academic job. The following timeline can serve as a guide to help you manage the academic job search process.


  • Update your CV, general cover letter/letter of application, and organize materials for a teaching portfolio.
  • Consider creating a professional web page for your materials.
  • Obtain feedback from faculty, mentors, and fellow students on creating a CV that contains the necessary information for your field of study.
  • Make an appointment with Career and Student Employment Services for feedback.
  • Obtain letters of reference. This is a good time to contact past references and update letters. Share a current CV with all references.
  • Create a filing system for your job search materials. Organize your materials electronically.


  • Finalize one version of your CV as a template. You may have several versions of your CV depending on the positions for which you are applying: research positions, teaching positions, endowed chairs, and other types of academic jobs.
  • Apply for positions. Find these through your dissertation chair/advisor, departmental listings, CDC resources, professional conferences and organizations and various internet web sites.
  • Continue to solicit letters of recommendation and update previous letters.
  • Attend departmental and campus events.
  • Meet with a CDC counselor for further resources.


  • Continue applying for positions.
  • Prepare and practice your academic job talk. Practice interviews with peers, faculty, and other supporters/mentors.
  • Tenure track and one year positions continue to be announced during this period.
  • Evaluate academic job offers and be sure to negotiate for time to carefully consider each offer.
  • Discuss negotiation strategies with your advisor, counselor, and other personal resources.

If you have not yet found a position, do not despair. Continue applying for jobs. It may take more than one year to find a position.