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Launching Your Academic Job Search: Understanding the Job Search Process and Creating Your Application Package Bill Lindstaedt, Director UCSF Career Center. Seminar Agenda. Overview of Academic Job Search Academic job search process/calendar The view from the search committee side

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Launching Your Academic Job Search:

Understanding the Job Search Process and Creating Your Application Package

Bill Lindstaedt, Director

UCSF Career Center

seminar agenda
Seminar Agenda
  • Overview of Academic Job Search
      • Academic job search process/calendar
      • The view from the search committee side
      • Application components
  • CV Basics: CV definitions and sections, format, layout
  • CV Reviews: You are the search committee!
  • Tips for academic cover letters
  • Tips for letters of recommendations
  • Tips for research statements
academic job search calendar
Academic Job Search Calendar

Before Sept. -Previous February – all pubs submitted -Make choices on types of positions and institutions to pursue -Assemble application materials

Sept. – Nov. -Update CV, reference list -Have CV reviewed -Seek advice, support of advisor(s) -Request letters of recommendation -Look for postings weekly; begin to apply

Nov. – Jan. -Continue applying -Prepare for screening interviews -Prepare for job talks -Ask advisors to call on your behalf

Feb. – May -Campus interview visits -Negotiate offers

academic job search materials
Academic Job Search Materials
  • Application elements requested in survey of 30 life science-related faculty postings from Science Magazine and the Chronicle of Higher Ed:
  • Curriculum Vitae (30)
  • Letter of Application (30)
  • Description of future research plans/interests (21)
  • Letters of reference (17)
  • List of references (12)
  • Statement of teaching philosophy (8)
  • Representative reprints (7)
  • Description of research accomplishments, abstract (5)
  • Transcripts (4)
  • Descriptions of possible courses (2)
  • Summary of career/professional goals (2)

What do search committees do with these materials, and when?

what is a cv
What is a CV?

Curriculum Vitae – (approx.) “the course of one’s life, or career” Document used to apply for teaching or academic research positions Complete professional history

Other uses for your CV

Supporting document for grant proposal

Required document for departmental reviews

Audits or accreditation reviews

Guide for introductions at conferences


cv vs resume
CV vs. Resume


-1-3 Pages, plus pubs

-Selected history; changes to target position

-Self-promotion expected

-Organized to manipulate reader

-Cover letter and references: Important role

Curriculum Vitae

-Unlimited length

-Complete history; changes little

-Just the facts

-Strict organization

-Cover letter and references: Critical role

sections of a cv
Sections of a CV
  • Name, address, phone, email, website
  • Education
    • Graduate Degree(s)
    • -University, Degree, Field, Date of completion (or date of milestone)
    • -Concentrations or other relevant information
    • -Dissertation: Title, name of advisor(s)
    • Refer to abstract if you include one
    • Undergraduate Degree(s)
    • -Degree, University, Major, Date of completion
    • -Honors
sections of a cv8
Sections of a CV
  • Licensure, Certification, Registration
  • Research Experience (ok to include thesis research with others)
    • -University, Location, Department, Date
    • -Your title, Laboratory
    • -Brief research project statement(s) - sentence fragments, verb first, may include original objective and result
    • -Patents may be sub-category or go under Publications
  • Teaching Experience
    • -University, Location, Department, Date
    • -Your title, Course Title
    • -Description of course accomplishments, size, may include your responsibilities and scope
    • Training, Mentoring, Advising Experience
    • -Structure each listing as in Teaching Experience section
sections of a cv9
Sections of a CV
  • Other academic-related: Research Interests, Collaborations Developed, Areas of Expertise (Skills), Prepared to Teach, University Service Leadership Experience
  • Grants and Fellowships
  • Honors and Awards
  • Publications: Follow format used in your field
  • -Refereed Articles
  • -Book Sections
  • -Abstracts
  • -Invited Presentations
  • -Posters
  • -Lectures
  • Other (Relevant): Memberships or Professional Affiliations,
      • Ancillary Positions Held, Languages, Community Involvement
  • References: Name, Title, Institution, Address, Phone, Fax, Email
formatting and tips
Formatting and Tips
  • Direct the reader with consistent formatting
  • Dates: Place on right of page; line up in column down right of page
  • 3. Publications: Mixing up the order may be ok; bold your name
  • 4. Change layout to target position
  • 5. Number each page at bottom, beginning with 2
  • 6. Same font throughout, conservative
  • 7. Laser print original; copy professionally; white paper
  • 8. Proofread; get help from a colleague and lay person
  • Do NOT include personal information, “Curriculum Vitae” if CV is
    • being used alone, “Name”
formatting and tips11


University of California, San Francisco 1999-Present Postdoctoral Fellow, Laboratory of Dr. R. U. Ready

-Developed novel…resulted in 17 publications in Cell…

Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, 1995-1999 PhD Candidate, Laboratory of Dr. I. Rule

-Initiated discovery of…

Formatting and Tips
      • Next Most Important
      • Next Most Important Least Important
academic cover letters
Academic Cover Letters
  • Academic cover letters for faculty positions are different
      • Postdoc cover letters
      • Industry cover letters
  • 1-1.5 pages in length; perfect grammar and sentence structure
  • Conservative sales document tailored to each position
  • No bullets or other organizational formatting; writing quality important
academic cover letters13
Academic Cover Letters
  • Sections of an academic cover letter:
    • -Contact information: Date; recipient’s address; left justified
    • -Salutation: “Dear Dr. Smith:” or “Dear Members of the Committee:”
    • -Opening paragraph: Why you are writing; how you heard about job
    • -Middle paragraphs: Focus on past accomplishments in support of
    • your “fit” for the position; explain interest in the position and/or
    • the institution (depends on the school)
    • -Closing: Explain enclosures; offer to provide additional info
academic cover letters14
Academic Cover Letters


Assistant professor As seen in the 9 November issue of Science:

QUANTITATIVE BIOLOGY Bard College's Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics is seeking a colleague who will complement our existing strengths in molecular biology, biochemistry, genomics, and ecology. The successful candidate will be involved in developing an innovative curriculum in which Bard undergraduates develop a strong foundation in the traditional fields and become proficient with the computational methods employed in those fields. Preference will be given to candidates interested in involving undergraduates in an ongoing research program and in developing collaborative connections with members of the Bard faculty. In addition, opportunities exist for developing collaborations and undergraduate courses and programs with the faculty at Rockefeller University. The appointment will be made at the ASSISTANT PROFESSOR level starting July 1, 2004. Applicants should submit a letter of application, curriculum vitae, statements of teaching and research interests, and three letters of recommendation to: Robert Cutler, Biology Search Committee Chair, c/o Human Resources, Bard College, P.O. Box 5000, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000. Start-up funding is available. Candidates must have a Ph.D. Applications will be reviewed as received and interviews will begin in November 2003. Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

academic cover letters15
Academic Cover Letters

November 22, 2003

Dr. Robert Cutler

Biology Search Committee Chair

c/o Human Resources

Bard College

P.O. Box 5000

Annendale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000

Dear Dr. Cutler:

I am glad to have the opportunity to apply for a faculty position in the Biology Department of Bard College. I am writing in response to your advertisement in the November 9 issue of Science Magazine, which announced a position vacancy for a Quantitative Biologist. I am Molecular Biologist currently finishing a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Ima Goddess, at the University of California at San Francisco.

My approach to teaching undergraduates and conducting research with undergraduates has developed over several years, through my experience developing and delivering course materials to undergraduates in both laboratory and classroom settings. In my experience, the best teaching is done through hands-on experience, so I will try to engage students in my courses by encouraging the maximum possible laboratory participation…

The research project I would like to pursue at Bard College involves the development of… This is a project which I feel will interest and inspire undergraduates while allowing me to continue to produce the highest quality work in my field.

Included in this packet, please find my curriculm vitae, statements regarding my research and teaching in…

I appreciate being considered for your faculty position. Please let me know if I can provide additional information in support of my application…

letters of recommendation
Letters of Recommendation

Generally 3: PhD advisor, Research Advisor, Collaborator or Research Mentor

How do I ask for a letter?

The initial ask, to ensure a positive letter

The follow-up meeting:

Job posting(s)


Research statement


Key items to address

letters of recommendation17
Letters of Recommendation


What do I do if they ask for “Evidence of excellence in teaching”? Recommender #3 becomes person who best knows your teaching

Follow up meeting: Include teaching evaluations, teaching philosophy statement

Timeline: Several weeks minimum, plus reminders

What do I do about negative recommendation letter?

research statements
Research Statements


Know the school

Know the department

Know the position


“Toolkit: Writing a Research Plan” at

research statements19
Research Statements


“…a readable, compelling agenda that fits well with the needs, facilities and goals of the department and answers the question, ‘Why must this work be done?’”

“The best plans build on the promising experience of the applicant but are not a direct extension of their postdoctoral work.”

research statements20
Research Statements


Overly ambitious

Lacks clear direction

Lacks a big picture focus

Doesn’t address how the proposal fits with needs of department

Requires facilities/equipment not possible to provide

Poor writing, structure, spelling, grammar

research statements21
Research Statements

CONTENT TIPS from “Toolkit” and others:

Specific, well-considered, realistic

Include an abstract or executive summary

Include preliminary data

Use graphics

Customize each time

research statements22
Research Statements

LAYOUT TIPS from “Toolkit” and others:

Appropriate length

Short sections focused on major themes

Use proper paragraph format

Create readable layout

Proofread each time