by ANDREW OBUS
It’s that time of year when graduating students have to start thinking about the job search. I don’t want to give here a comprehensive overview of the job search, but I want to share a few things that I did in my academic job search last year that I think were helpful (and that are not always done)…
1) I kept a spreadsheet of all the jobs I had applied to. A big one. With lots of data. My columns were school, location, deadline, type of job, duration of job, onMathJobs?, special application requirements, where to send application (if not mathjobs), applicationSubmitted?, result of application, faculty member to mention in cover letter, and sendExpandedResearchStatement? (see #2). This was essential to keeping me organized, especially when applying to on the order of 100 jobs.
2) I had two major versions of my research statement (for research universities). One was the standard version, about 4-5 pages. The other one was an expanded, slightly more technical version, about 8-9 pages, that I sent (unsolicited) to roughly 20 faculty members around the country/world with whom I was particularly interested in working. Most people, even if they didn’t read it in detail, at least responded to me that they would bring my application to the attention of their search committees (important, when the school is receiving hundreds and hundreds of applications), and I even got a few suggestions on my research. Thanks to my advisor for this tip.
3) I applied for the NSF postdoc. This is only possible if you are a US citizen or permanent resident, and the deadline is October 21st, 2009. The fellowship provides 2 years of funding with no teaching responsibilities, or 3 years if you teach half-time for 2 of them. And you can essentially take it wherever you want. If you do this, you need to apply with a particular sponsor and department, and your sponsor will need to write a short letter. Word on the street is, with the stimulus package, there will be many of these fellowships available in the near future (more were given last year than usual). It is definitely worth it to apply, even though the application is lengthy and due early. After all, after you are done with the NSF application you will have written the bulk of what you need for your other academic job applications. More information is at www.fastlane.nsf.gov.
Happy job hunting!