August 26, 2013
‘Tis the season for academic faculty job searches. From summer until late fall, the bulk of faculty jobs are accepting applications to fill positions that begin in the fall of the following year. If you are considering this route, here are some things you need to think about:
- What kind of school do you want to be at?
Do you want to be at a large research university (like Columbia University in NYC), a state school that terminates in a master’s program (like Eastern Michigan University), or a liberal arts environment (like Swarthmore College). Each of these types of institutions has different expectations regarding the amount of teaching and research expected from faculty. Different institutions/schools have different expectations for grant funding, teaching, and service. Be sure to consider the type of position you are looking for so you can prepare the strongest possible package.Another question to consider: does the location and setting (urban/suburban) matter to you? To research schools, look at the Carnegie Classifications.
- Find positions that interest you.
Many schools post their openings on-line at sites including: Science Careers, New Scientist Jobs, Academic 360, Nature, Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), Cell Careers, Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, The Chronicle of Higher Education. You should also look at your favorite schools’ websites. Network with faculty at meetings or conferences to get the insider’s information on openings.
- Start to prepare your job application package.
a. CV – a record of your academic career. Your CV will be tailored differently if it is a research-intensive position or if it is a teaching-intensive position.b. Cover Letter – This is a document that is very tailored to the job for which you are applying. This document allows you to explain why you are interested in this particular college, and how you see your research goals fitting into their overall department.
c. Research Plan – The goal here is to get your future colleagues to be excited about you and your science. This document typically includes some discussion of prior research accomplishments, but you should specifically highlight the work most relevant to your proposed work. You need to lay out a do-able research plan for the next 5+ years with a focus on explaining how the work you are currently proposing fits into your broader long-term goals. Depending on the position, you may want to explain how you will tailor your research for students at the institution; this is especially important if the expectation is that you will engage large numbers of undergrads in your research.
d. Teaching Plan – If you will have a teaching component of your job, this part of your application tells them about your personal beliefs on teaching and gives a description of how you teach. It should have specific examples and reflect that you understand the student population at that specific institution.
e. Letters of recommendation – You should start to line your letters up early. They need to be very strong.
In this tight academic job market, one major key to success is preparation. You need to be sure you have your papers published, that you have obtained the appropriate amount of teaching experience, and that you have researched the institution to be sure it is the right fit. Starting early and getting a lot of input is key. If you are an NIH trainee (or local to the DC area) join us for the first of our series on securing a faculty job on Aug 28: Academic Job Search. If you cannot make this event, watch our videos online: Academic Job Search Overview.
February 25, 2013
You found an awesome job posting or graduate program, crafted the perfect curriculum vitae, and created a cover letter capable of convincing the staunchest of holdouts that you are a vital addition to their team. The only problem is you remembered to attach your resume after pressing send on your cover letter e-mail. Forgotten attachments happen to everyone, but the job application process is where you are supposed to distinguish yourself as a better candidate than everyone else. So – now what?
Unlike many career advice searches on the internet, there are not a lot of professional sites with comments on forgotten attachments. The obvious action requires you to send the forgotten materials; otherwise there is no chance for success. The real question remains: How do provide the missing information while saving face?
Do you apologize for the mistake? Do you try to act as if it never happened? The best route is to resend the same e-mail (with the attachment this time) with a comment in the title about the inclusion. Do not write a long, apologetic paragraph about forgetting the attachment. This reaction makes a big deal out of a common mistake and can make you seem insecure. At the same time you need to say something to differentiate the new e-mail from the old one so the hiring manager or principal investigator does not think you are spamming them. One postdoc recently forgot to attach their resume to a cold call e-mail and recovered by simply sending the same e-mail entitled “Employment inquiry at blah with attached resume”, and received a positive response.
For the most part, human resources and principal investigators tend to be pretty forgiving. Just keep in mind they are judging you at every interaction – this can be a time to show your ability to recover gracefully from a difficult situation.
Mistakes made during the application process may come back to haunt you during the interview. Keep in mind that if you are being interviewed that the company/ principal investigator thinks you might be a good fit for them. Do not be the one to bring up a past mistake. Do not give them a reason to deny you the position. Only talk about a past error from your application process if they ask about it. Be prepared with an answer that puts you in a positive light, not something like you were too busy applying to their competitor and forgot the attachment to them.
Of course, the better strategy is to remember the attachment. Make a list of things, mentally or written down, that you always check before submitting any application. Some items to include can be; properly addressing the cover letter, attaching the required documentation, filling in the subject line, and using spell check (spell check will not reliably catch names). Leave a comment with other items you think the email proof-reading list should include.
April 23, 2012
With summer come multiple opportunities to strengthen your resume and advance your career. Whether you are at the NIH or somewhere else, summer programs provide valuable experience in mentoring, administration, management, and teaching. Regardless of your career aspirations, these are key components to your resume or CV. We have highlighted a few summer programs, workshops, and events for trainees at the NIH that we hope you will take advantage of. If you are not at the NIH, contact your career center or postdoc/graduate student office to find out about similar programs offered at your institution. The list can still be used as a guide for what you should be looking for.
- Mentor a summer intern – Ask your PI or research mentor to let your supervise a summer intern. The interns here at NIH are bright and enthusiastic. They can bring new energy and sometimes even new insights in to your projects. Mentoring also gives you experience in supervising others, managing resources and people, and teaching.
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