Job Search

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!

–Andrew

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0 Responses to Job Search

  1. Katz says:

    Where are the jobs posted this year? Are the different sites really focused on certain job types, or should a person look at them all? And the job wiki pages last year were awesome, what are the url addresses for them this year?

  2. Andrew Obus says:

    The main job sites are http://www.mathjobs.org and http://eims.ams.org/search/browse/
    These both focus on academic jobs, but every once in a while there are some industrial jobs. Many jobs are listed on both. I have found that EIMS is a little more comprehensive, and has more small liberal arts college jobs. Keep in mind that some openings might not be posted yet.

    The wiki for this year is at
    Most of the postings right now are for German Jobs.

  3. self improvement says:

    Hey man!
    Im studying in south africa, and as a student like having an extra job for some extra income 🙂

    I like your suggestions, I’ve never really thought of it that way. Did you ever apply for tutoring jobs or other jobs related to your study or your university? I don’t think I’m super smart to be able to lecture classes at university, but I definitely think I could help some of the first years with some basic extra lessons

    Thanks for the posts!
    Cheers
    Diggy

  4. Daniel Erman says:

    Was the only difference between the 4-5 and 8-9 page versions of your research statement the level of technicality? Did you focus more on past work in one version and more on future work in another? Any other differences? It’s a good idea.

  5. Andrew Obus says:

    I didn’t do an official application for tutoring jobs–at UPenn it was very easy–you can just put your name up on a website that has a list of tutors, and watch the jobs roll in. It might be a good idea to talk to the chair of the math department to see if they facilitate tutoring somehow.

  6. Andrew Obus says:

    Besically, yes. The statements were structured in the same way, and the statement of my theorem was non-technical enough that the “further directions” part of my statement didn’t really need to be changed. In the technical version, I tried to give some sense of the flow of my proofs, whereas in the non-technical version, I essentially said “I used the following techniques” (without really explaining how I used them).

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