Applying (to) the Academic Status Quo

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Across most of the continental U.S., the leaves are turning beautiful colors and there’s a briskness to the weather that wasn’t there last week. It’s clear that Fall is here and that can only mean one thing… it’s hiring season in academia!

 

A Little Background on Academic Hiring

Traditionally, academic hiring happens only once per year during the Fall semester. All publicly available jobs for most departments are placed on virtual boards and those interested in applying consult the individual job postings for guidance from the search committee about what particulars they’re after for that position. For my field, it is the American Astronomical Society’s Job Register.

While each posting might ask for an applicant to cover specific topics in their application packets, the components are pretty uniform: cover letter, curriculum vitae (with or without publications included), statement of research, statement of teaching philosophy (sometimes the last two are combined) and 3–5 letters of recommendation. Each piece of the application packet is included to validate the applicants claims of being adequately prepared to take on the rigors of employment at a given institution. Here are excerpts from two actual postings:

Jedidah Isler