You can’t get very far in a job search without knowing who is hiring. Let’s start out by talking about where you go to even find those half-page job ads. Department websites often list their open faculty positions. If you are particularly interested in a specific department, it is worth checking their website periodically for new postings, but to do this for every department you might want to apply to would be a daunting task. Instead, most people search through common job posting sites. One site that covers multiple disciplines is HigherEdJobs, and both Science and Nature magazines have job lists where universities often post faculty search ads. If you are a chemist, then C&EN jobs is a great resource, and likely the most comprehensive list is going to be the infamous Chemjobber faculty jobs list (2020-21 list is here).
How many jobs and how to keep track
As you work through these databases, the sheer number of job ads can be overwhelming. While there is no correct number of applications to submit, a typical range for candidates applying to chemistry departments at research intensive universities (often called “R1” in reference to Carnegie Classification) like Emory is 25-50. As you narrow your search, think about the type of institution you want to be at. Do you want to primarily focus on teaching and mentoring of undergraduates or do you want to spend more of your time managing a lab of PhD students and postdocs? Are there geographic areas that are particularly attractive or others where you prefer not to live? Does the university have the infrastructure you need to be successful in your research?
I personally found it helpful to maintain my own spreadsheet of jobs that I was planning to apply for. I created columns for due date, application website, required documents, and any other important information. I also created a system where I could annotate when my application was submitted and where I stood in the application and interview process.
The search timeline
That brings us to the next topic – the search timeline. This can also vary widely depending on discipline and department, but within chemistry, there is a general search timeline that many departments follow:
- August-October – job ads are posted by departments who are having a faculty search that year
- September-November – applications and letters of recommendation are due
- November-January – candidates are contacted and invited for interviews (sometimes a brief virtual interview – still often called a “phone interview” – precedes a full interview invitation)
- December-March – interviews are held and offers are extended to candidates
As you’ll notice, many of the times on this outline are overlapping. It’s entirely possible that you will be invited for an interview before your last application is submitted, or you may receive an offer and then still be later invited for more interviews. This can cause some stress when it comes to negotiating offers and making decisions, and this is when the mentors in your life can be a great resource for navigating such situations. But, if you’re just starting your search, you don’t need to worry about that part yet.
Preparing for your future career
We hope that these insights are helpful as you start the journey of applying for faculty jobs. Just finding all of the information and keeping it organized through the long process of a faculty job search is a significant task, but the good news is that it’s great preparation for managing your future research lab and/or classroom!