Job Applications

How to Prepare for the Job Market while you are still in grad school

If you have been following the blog awhile, you know that we have been focusing on how to plan for a productive week, every week.  Up until now, we've been planning one week at a time and one day at a time.

Now, I want you to start thinking big! What are your big goals for grad school? What kind of career do you want when you finish? What do you want to be known for in your field?

In this post, we will be taking these big goals, and breaking them down into smaller, more manageable baby goals that you can achieve each semester.

how to prepare for the job market while you are still in grad school | The Academic Society

Figure Out What you are working for

Understanding what you may want to do pretty early in your grad school career can be super helpful.

If you are interested in a teaching career, make sure that you spend your time in grad school preparing to teach. I know it may be easy to teach the same course every semester. But, it would look really good on your job applications if you taught a variety of class. You can start requesting to teach different classes. Also, you can go to seminars and conferences about teaching in your field.

If you are interested in a research career, you should definitely focus on your own research. But you should try to expand your interests. Try applying for a summer research program this summer. Go to conferences and seminars in your field. Also, take a course or seminar on advising undergraduates in research.

If you are interested in an industry or government job, try applying for summer internships to gain experience. Look for opportunities to work on a team.

When I was a graduate student, I built my grad school career all around teaching. I took courses on teaching, went to seminars and conferences, and taught many different classes. This really set me apart from the other applicants applying for the same types of jobs as me.


How to Prepare for a Teaching Job

When you are early in your graduate school career, even if you aren’t teaching classes yet, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity that is related to teaching.  For example, if a graduate teaching training or course is offered, take it seriously.

If your department offers a course on teaching in your field, take it!  When I was in grad school, I took a course called Teaching College Math.  It was required that I take the course for my fellowship, but it was soooo helpful!  I studied learning outcomes, how to write a syllabus, about assessments and more.  Plus, it was something I could add to my CV that showed that I had teacher training beyond what most grad students had.

I also went to seminars on teaching and learned about active learning.  I was then able to implement what I had learned in my classes and write about what I tried in my teaching statement when I was applying for jobs.

During the JMM (Joint Mathematics Meetings), the big conference in my field, I took mini-courses on how to teach statistics as well has how to advise undergraduates in research.

So as you continue throughout your grad school experience, look for any opportunity that relates to teaching and take advantage of it.


How to Prepare for a Research Job

Disclaimer:  I’ve never wanted a job where research was a focus, so definitely consult your advisor after reading this blog post.

The first piece of advice is a no brainer.  Work very hard on your research.  Make sure you attend seminars and colloquia in your research area.  It would also be helpful if you were able to collaborate with others on a project.

When you are applying for jobs, it will be very likely that you will be the only person in your department working in your specific field.  So it’s nice to be able to show that you can collaborate and work with others.  See if you can find a way to apply your research in other fields.  Interdisciplinary research was a pretty hot topic when I was on the job market.

Whenever you hear about summer research opportunities, you should definitely apply.  I participated in a program called the Industrial Math/Stats Modeling Workshop where I worked on a research team with 5 other members.  We ended the program by writing a research paper and presenting our work.

Reaching out to other schools’ summer research programs also gives you networking opportunities.  Perhaps you’ll meet the very people who will want to hire you someday.

Finally, try to make significant progress on your dissertation research so that you can get a couple papers published before you graduate.


How to Prepare for an Industry/Government Job

Since my research area is statistics, I definitely considered working in industry.  My advisor urged me to take classes outside of my department that would build my list of skills.

I took classes where I learned how to program in SAS and SQL.  I also learned a few more skills in my summer research program IMSM which I mentioned in the section above.

I also think that you should look for summer internship opportunities and find people to collaborate with.  Any evidence of working with a team will look great on your resume when applying for a job in industry or government.


I hope this post gave you something to think about.  So, starting now, be on the lookout for opportunities NOW that will help you in the FUTURE on the job market.

How to Write a CV as a Graduate Student

One of the most difficult parts about applying for a job, internship, or research program is actually sitting down to write a CV.  You probably haven’t been writing down all of your accomplishments as you have gone through graduate school.  So it’s completely understandable that writing a CV can feel overwhelming.

If you are like I was as a graduate student, you probably only have the resume you used to get into graduate school.   And now that you are in, all of your undergraduate accomplishments are irrelevant.  Great.

But don’t worry, it’s best to start from scratch anyway.

How to Write a CV as a Graduate Student | The Academic Society | for graduate students in Math and STEM

Let’s start with the format and content that you need to create a standout CV for whatever job you are applying for.

Formatting Do’s and Don’ts of an Academic CV


Do use 1 inch margins on all for edges of your CV.

Do use 12 point font for the content of your CV.

Do using single-spacing.

Do write your name at the top of your CV in either 14 or 16 point font.


Don’t use multiple font styles.

Don’t use italics for anything other than journal and book titles.

Don’t center any lines of your CV, other than the heading.

Don’t use any accomplishments from your undergraduate years.  (This one is not a formatting tip, but it needed to be mentioned.)


The Heading of an Academic CV

In the heading of your CV, you should include your first and last name in either 14 or 16 point font.  Also, include the words “Curriculum Vitae” right below your name.  It’s also best to include either your school or home address, email address, and phone number.

The Categories of an Academic CV

Below, I have listed a few of the most common categories found on a CV.  Don’t worry if you don’t have any accomplishments in certain categories yet.  You definitely do not need this many.  I think I only had 6 or 7 of these on my CV when I was applying for jobs.

  • Education

  • Employment

  • Publications

  • Awards/Honors

  • Grants/Fellowships

  • Invited Talks

  • Conference Activity

  • Teaching Experience

  • Service

  • Extra-curricular activities

  • Community Involvement

  • Professional Memberships


What Search Committees Notice

I thought that it would also be helpful to mention things that I had on my CV that search committees noticed and asked me about during interviews.

If you actually taught classes, make sure that it is clear.  As a graduate student, I attended a program called the BFF (Building Future Faculty) Program at North Carolina State University.  One of the most helpful experiences during that program was that I was able to get feedback on my CV from a professor in my field.  So, we went over each part of my CV and he gave me feedback.  One of the things that stood out was my “Teaching Experience” Category.

I had listed that I was a GTA and gave details about the courses that I taught and he asked why I was trying to make it seem like I actually taught those classes that I listed.  Of course I was confused.  But I didn’t want to be rude about saying that I did teach those classes.

Apparently he thought that I was grader or ran recitation sections for those classes that I taught.  He suggested that I use language other than “Graduate Teaching Assistant” and state that I was the Instructor of Record for the course because, apparently, it isn’t that common for graduate students to teach as many classes as I had.

Meeting with this professor was so valuable to me and it really gave me a good idea of what an academic CV should look like as a graduate student.  That’s why I offer a service where I provide graduate students with feedback on their CVs.  If you’re interested, join The Academic Society and email me about it!


Another thing that stood out was interesting extracurricular/service projects.  I was a member of the Graduate Student Association and each year we would put on an event called “Night at the Museum”.  During this event, each department would set up a booth to teach children about their areas of study using fun themes like Pirate Night and Safari Night.

I actually got questions about this event (very small part of my CV) from multiple search committees.

The smallest things can help you stand out to a search committee.  If you are ready to start writing your CV, I’ll be hosting a workshop that will walk you through the process of writing or updating your CV so that it stands out to a search committee.

Register for the Workshop!

How to Prepare to Apply for a Job in Academia Series, Part 1: Be Observed

When you get into your 3rd year of grad school, you probably have completed all of your course work, chosen an advisor, and started teaching classes.


This is also the time where you start to decide if you love learning so much that you want to do it forever!  Or you decide that when you finish, you want to take the money and run (get an industry job).


If you are in the former group like I was, you’ve realized that either teaching or research is your passion!  Or maybe you are passionate about both teaching and research.  In any case, you’ve found your passion and there is nothing else you’d rather do as your career.  Well, that means you probably want to go into academia and be a professor at a college or university.


So that means, in the fall (or spring) semester of your final year of grad school you, will start to apply for jobs in academia.


But…one does not simply click on a job posting, fill out an application, and hope for the best.  Oh no, my friend.  It takes careful planning and preparation to even complete an application, let alone stand out enough to get an interview!


That’s why I started this blog!  I hated that there wasn’t a roadmap for successfully going through the application process to land your dream job in academia.


I was pretty successful during my job search with the process that I made for myself so I wanted to share it with you!  You have enough on your plate with teaching, research, presentations, seminars, and writing your dissertation.  Let me do the heavy lifting for you.


This series, How to Prepare to Apply for a Job in Academia will walk you through the steps you need to take before filling out a job application.  There are 3 parts in this series:

Part 1:  Be Observed

Part 2:  Observe

Part 3:  Roadmap to Success


How to Prepare to Apply for a Job in Academia, Part 1: Be Observed | The Academic Society | for graduate students in Math and STEM

Part 1:  Be Observed Teaching

Depending on the type of school you want to work at (liberal arts, R1, community college), teaching may or may not be a huge component of your appointment.  But you will have to teach.


And the schools you will apply for will need evidence of your teaching skills, practices, and experience.  Every application will ask for a teaching statement or philosophy, teaching evaluations, and a recommendation letters that will give proof that you know what you are doing in a classroom.


And how will someone know how well you are doing in the classroom?


They will only know if they have seen you teach.


So the first step to prepare to apply for an academic job is to be observed teaching.  And not just once.


You should be observed when you first start teaching and after you become a “pro”.  And it would be super helpful if the same person observed you at the beginning and end of your grad school teaching experience.


So yes, it’s great to ask your advisor to observe you teaching.  But note:  they will be the one faculty member that knows the most about your research.  So their reference letter will focus more on that.


You need to find at least two faculty members to write letters for you that are ALL about your experience in the classroom.


So how do you find who to ask to observe you?


I’m glad you asked!  Find the best teachers in your department.  And don’t think that they must have a Ph.D. to be great letter writers for you.  Instructors are great faculty members to ask to observe your teaching!  If their only job is to teach, they probably know the most about teaching.


So choose two people to observe your classes.  Remember, they will need to do it more than once.  Preferably once at the beginning of your teaching experience and once at the end of your program.


There will probably be years between those observation times.  How will they remember your teaching skills and experience?  They have classes and students of their own to think about.


Make it easy on them!


Create a worksheet or form that is easy for them to fill out while they observe you!  And then you both keep copies that they can refer back to when you ask them to write their reference letter for you.


So how do you create a good form?  Well, your department may already have some created.  But if not, I’ve created one for you!


You’re welcome!


Download the Teaching Observation Form!

As you can probably guess that, to get a good teaching reference letter, you need to plan.  Years in advance!  And being observed multiple times will give your letter writer plenty of personalized and detailed material that is bound to help you stand out among the mass of other applicants.


Not only is it important to be observed.  It’s tremendously helpful to observe others’ teaching styles and practices as well.


That’s what I cover in Part 2 of the How to Prepare to Apply for a Job in Academia series.  You can find that post here!

Don’t forget to download the Teaching Observation Form!  You can get it below!

How to Prepare to Apply for a Job in Academia Series, Part 2: Observe

Welcome back to the series on How to Prepare to Apply for a Job in Academia!  This series was created to give you a starting point as well as a roadmap for applying for jobs.  Because, trust me, it’s very overwhelming!  Here is what we cover in this 3 part series:

Part 1:  Be Observed

Part 2:  Observe

Part 3:  Roadmap to Success

In Part 1, we talked about how important it is to be observed teaching in the classroom.  If you missed the previous post, click here.


How to Prepare to Apply for a Job in Academia, Part 2:  Observe Others | The Academic Society | for graduate students in Math and STEM

Part 2:  Observe Others’ Teaching Practices

If you are in grad school for anything other than Education, you probably had never taught anything before starting grad school.


So that means your own experiences in front of a classroom is not enough.  It is wildly helpful to see how others in your field teach their classes.  Particularly, the people known for their teaching skills!


Like the people I mentioned in Part 1 of this series who will be observing your teaching.


Since you want to develop a relationship with them, you should definitely ask them if you can sit in on a couple of their classes to observe them.


This is especially helpful if they are teaching the same classes as you, or a class that you will be teaching in the future.


And what should you do while you observe them?


Take notes!  Notice how they interact with the class.  Get a feel for their flow and teaching style.


Use the same form that I mentioned in Part 1 and fill it out for them.


If you missed Part 1, click here.


Download the Teaching Observation Form!


What do you do if you notice that your teaching is severely lacking compared to the teaching practices of the person you observed?


Ask them for more help.  I know that I love to talk about teaching.  They will be happy to help.


Ask them how they plan their classes.  Ask them how they choose what problems to work in class.  Ask them how they get students to participate in their lectures.


I have a method that I use that starts on the first day of classes to warm the students up and let them know that I want them to participate in the lectures throughout the whole semester.  I created a full email course that you can take to learn more.


Click here to take the FREE email course.


I hope that you are enjoying this series so far.  There is only one part left.  But first, let’s recap.


What do we need to do before we start applying for jobs in academia?  Observe and be observed!  Click here to read part 3 of the series.


Download the Teaching Observation Form!

How to Prepare to Apply for a Job in Academia Series, Part 3: Create a Roadmap for Success

Welcome back!  You made it to the final part of the series, How to Prepare to Apply for a Job in Academia.  If you haven’t gone through the first two parts, you can find them here:

Part 1:  Be Observed

Part 2:  Observe

These posts also came with a free gift.  If you missed the gift, you can sign up below to get the Teaching Observation Form.

Download the Teaching Observation Form!

How to Prepare to Apply for a Job in Academia | The Academic Society | for graduate students in Math and STEM

Part 3:  Create a Roadmap for Success


I’m the type of person that loves to plan.  I remember, in undergrad, and my roommate can attest to this, what I did every semester.  I would plan my future.  I would choose the classes I wanted to take for the remaining semesters in great detail as well as my plans for after graduation.


My plans changed each semester but it always made me feel better when I gave myself something to work toward.  Like a personal challenge that only I knew about.  It always helps to have some type of roadmap.


That’s what we are going to talk about in the final part of this series on How to Prepare to Apply for a Job in Academia.


I know that I said we can’t just look at an application listing and click apply and be done.  But we do need to know what to expect in advance.


I remember, in the spring semester of my 4th year of grad school, I was planning my future, as I do.  And I decided to look up the types of jobs I wanted to apply for and boy were my eyes opened!


There is so much stuff that goes into an application packet!  At least a month’s worth of work!

Where to Find Academic Job Postings

As you know, I’m a mathematician so I went to the AMA website to look for job postings and found  It’s really the best place to search and apply for math jobs in academia.  Not all math jobs are on the site but most are.


Documents of an Academic Job Application Packet

So let me tell you what I learned.  There are at least 5 pieces of an academic job application.  They can include but are not limited to the following:

  • CV

  • Cover Letter

  • Teaching Statement

  • Research Statement

  • Teaching Evaluations

  • 3-4 Letters of Recommendation

  • Diversity statement (rarely)

That’s a lot of stuff to write!  And they all take a lot of time to actually complete.


So what did I do?  I created a spreadsheet with all of the jobs that I could possibly be interested in along with which applications required what documents.  It was so nice to have it all organized and it helped to keep me on track and ahead of deadlines.

The Job Application Roadmap

I know that applying for jobs can me very overwhelming and stressful, so I’ve created a roadmap for you to follow to help you prepare for the process.


Also, I want to be able to help you even more by walking you through the whole application process with tutorials, spreadsheets, and writing prompts.  So I’m creating an online course called Apply to Standout.


Would you be interested in taking a course that walks you through the whole application process with no research on how to write all of those documents above?


Sign up to get notifications when my course is ready.



Thanks for joining me in this series!  I hope that you are ready to start preparing yourself for academic job applications.

When to Start Applying for Jobs in Academia

When is the best time to start applying for academic jobs?  If you are a grad student in your 4th or 5th year, you should definitely start thinking about your next step.  Start thinking about the career you want and the types of jobs you want to apply for.

Download the Application Checklist!

When to start applying for jobs in academia as a graduate student | The Academic Society | for graduate students in Math and STEM

This article is for grad students who are interested in applying for jobs in academia and hope to be employed in Fall 2018.  Academic jobs include the following positions:

  • Post doc

  • Visiting professor

  • Instructor

  • Lecturer

  • Tenure track professor

The purpose of this post is to give grad students an idea about how much prep is required to apply for a job in academia as well as how to be as successful as possible on the job market.


Deadlines for Apply for Academic Jobs

A good place to start to figure out when to start applying for academic jobs is too look at deadlines.  If you are a mathematician, a great place to start is  I like to classify the job listings in two ways.  The ones with fall deadlines and the ones with spring deadlines.


Which ones should you strive to meet?  The fall deadlines.


Why fall?

Fall is so early!  The new school year is just getting started and you are just getting the hang of your very busy schedule.  Between teaching your classes, conducting research, attending seminars and conferences, meeting with your advisor, and writing your dissertation, where do you find the time to apply for jobs and meet these crazy early deadlines?  I’ll tell you exactly how…in a bit.  


Keep reading.


Why do schools make application deadlines so early?

Believe it or not, sometimes it’s a struggle for departments to find a person that is a good fit for the position they are offering.  So, posting an early deadline gets candidates in to be interviewed early.  And when they offer the candidate the job, there is little to no competition from other schools.


Also, there may be a big conference coming up.  In math, the Joint Math Meetings happen every January.  A lot of schools use this time to meet and interview candidates that applied in the fall.  So if you wait until spring you are missing out on so many interviews!


Why is applying for academic jobs in the fall good for you?

Applying for jobs in the fall may seem like a lot of work…on top of a lot of work.  But this can be very good for you!  Everyone else who plans to apply for jobs is busy too.  So maybe they won’t meet those early deadlines.  This is less competition for you!  Not that competition is a problem.  You are awesome and, if you stick with me, I know that you will create a standout application packet.  But let’s make it even easier for schools to notice you!  Apply early.


I started applying for jobs in the fall and I’ll never forget my first deadline.  October 15.  I was the first of my friends to get an application out.  It was scary and overwhelming but it gave me the push I needed to keep going.  I actually didn’t even need to apply for anymore jobs after November.  That’s less than 2 months of submitting applications.  I got multiple phone/Skype interviews and 4 on-campus interviews by the end of November.  I got three job offers and accepted my current position in December.  This was before many of my peers had even started applying for jobs!


This can be you too!

Download the Job Application Checklist!


Start Applying for Academic Jobs in the Summer.

When you start in the summer, you can create all of the application materials you’ll need before the crazy, busy semester starts!  What materials, you ask?  I’ve put them all on a checklist for you.

Once you’ve created the application materials, all you need to do when the semester starts is create a system for applying for jobs. It will take you no time to do and you can get back to focusing on your research and teaching your classes.  I can help you with that too, when you download the checklist you will join the email list and get tips and tricks from me. 


What you can do now?

When you get the checklist, you may not know where to start.  My suggestion is to start with your CV first.  Then move on to your Teaching Statement.


Related Post:  How to Write an Academic CV as a Grad Student


Need help getting started with those?  You know I got your back!  Get daily emails that walk you through getting your CV completed in 5 days for just 15 minutes a day!


When should you start applying for academic jobs?

So did I ever answer the question I first posed?  When should you start applying for academic jobs?  The answer is the fall, one year before you want to start working in the fabulous world of academia.  And when should you start working on your application materials?  The summer before you start applying.  I hope that clears everything up!

If you have any other questions, leave them below or check out the Facebook Page for The Academic Society.

Download the Job Application Checklist!

What is a Teaching Statement?

Are you interested in applying for a job in academia?  Have you looked at the requirements?  CVs, Cover Letters, Teaching Statements, Research Statements, oh my!  Sounds like a lot.  And you may not even be familiar with what each document requires or what it even is.


Like a teaching statement.  Also known as a teaching philosophy.


What is it?  Why do you need it?  How long does it need to be?  How much time should you devote to writing your teaching statement?  This article will answer all of your burning questions and help to get you started on the path to writing an amazing teaching statement that will help you stand out to job search committees.

Download the Teaching Statement Checklist!

How to write a teaching statement | What is a teaching statement | The Academic Society | for graduate students in Math and STEM


What is a teaching statement or teaching philosophy?

Both teaching statement and teaching philosophy will be used interchangeably throughout your job search process.  They mean the same thing and are the same document.


Contrary to what the actual word philosophy means, a search committee is not really looking for a paper all about your philosophy on teaching.  A teaching statement is actually just a paper about your teaching experience.  So instead of only writing about the magical and inspiring “truths” you’ve found to be the basis of contemporary instruction, you just have to tell a story about how you are in the classroom.


When I first started my application process, I Googled the term “teaching philosophy.”  I’m sure you did too.  I found a pretty good definition on this University of Minnesota website, which you probably found too.  Here’s their definition:


A teaching philosophy is a self-reflective statement of your beliefs about teaching and learning.  It should also discuss how you put your beliefs into practice by including concrete examples of what you do or anticipate doing in the classroom.  


The most important part of this definition is the second sentence.  You MUST provide concrete examples of what you do in the classroom.  It’s the only way to make your teaching statement believable.  Otherwise, it’s all just theory.  And theory is not what a search committee wants from you.


Why do you need a teaching statement?

If you are applying for a job in academia, you are most likely applying for one of the following positions on a college campus:  tenure track professorship, lecturer, post doc, or visiting professorship.


All of these positions usually come with teaching responsibilities.  The search committee needs to know that you have teaching experience and that you know how to handle yourself in the classroom.  They do not want someone who will bring the course evaluations down and make their department look bad.


The only way for you to prove to them that you have what it takes is to write about it, in detail, in your teaching statement or teaching philosophy.


How long does your teaching statement need to be?


It is recommended that your teaching statement or teaching philosophy be anywhere between 1-4 pages.  I recommend 2-3 pages.  Definitely not 1.  One page just screams that you don’t have enough experience or that you don’t care enough to write about it.


Your teaching statement can be four pages.  But only if your stories are sooooo amazing that it captivates the search committee!  Remember, they have other documents to read on top of doing their actual jobs like teaching or research.  Please be mindful of their time.


How much time should you devote to writing your teaching statement?

Well it depends on whether or not you have a plan for writing your teaching statement.  If you know what you want to say and narrowed down specific examples, you could knock your teaching statement out in 3-4 hours.  If you have no plan, and aren’t sure what to do or how to write your teaching statement, it could take a few days to get it just right.


How do you come up with a plan for writing a teaching statement or teaching philosophy?

I’m glad you asked, I’ve actually done it for you.  I’ve created an ebook that walks you through each step of writing a teaching statement or teaching philosophy.  It’s called From Blank Page to Teaching Philosophy.  In the book (there is also a workbook option), you will be given a plan for writing your document as well as what types of examples and quotes to include in your teaching statement.  By the time you finish the book (especially if you get the workbook version), you will have a completed teaching statement that’s ready to send off with the rest of your application material.


If you aren’t ready to purchase the ebook/workbook, I’m giving you a checklist to help you write your teaching statement or teaching philosophy.

Download the Teaching Statement Checklist!


I know that preparing to apply for jobs can be overwhelming and can feel like so much work!  That’s why I want to help!  The whole purpose of this blog is to help free up some time for you to focus on your research and teach your classes.


Have a wonderful day!!!