Gearing Up and Goal Setting

The information below is compiled from Professor Robillard’s summary of the job search process in the Graduate Student Handbook as well as various resources collected by Katherine and Cheryl.

Stage 1: Gearing up and Goal setting

Late spring

  • Seriously consider how ready you are for the market. Will you be finished with your dissertation by August of the next year? Does your advisor think you’ll be finished? Would you like to get your feet wet with a concentrated search before diving in the following year?
  • Meet with your advisor IN THE SPRING (remember that faculty often cannot or do not want to meet over the summer) to discuss start-up procedures, a timeline for helping you with materials, and developing your job strategy.
  • Read over this blog and the schedule and materials of each stage. The more you know in advance about what’s coming, the more success you’ll have.

What is a Job Strategy? Your Signature and Target.

A “signature” is that set of characteristics that helps distinguish one job candidate as unique among all others. You and your advisor should analyze what distinguishes or best characterizes you as a job candidate. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • What exactly is your field? If you bridge disciplines, how would you describe what you do?
  • How does your work intervene in and contribute to the field (or multiple fields)?
  • How would you translate your teaching/service/administrative experiences into language that the search committee can understand?
  • What are your special skills or strengths? (archival research, new media innovations, a kind of teaching strategy, publication record)

A “target” is the kind of place you ideally want to work, a set of criteria you should use to select schools to apply to. You should meet with your advisor (and think about yourself) to devise a list of job variables:

  •  institutional type
  • teaching load
  • administrative duties
  • types of courses
  • student populations & levels—undergraduate, MA, Ph.D.
  • geographical preferences
  • specific conditions that affect the job search (partner considerations, for example)

Before those first job ads come out, you should already know what your priorities are and be able to state then simply: e.g., “I’m looking for a 3-3 position in technical writing at an MA-granting institution in the Pacific Northwest.”  And remember: the more flexible you are in defining your priorities, the more likely you are to be successful on the national market.