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Job Search - Timing

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SPSP members share their advice on the best time to begin the job search process.

Most SPSP members who have gone through the job search process recommend the summer, July & August, of the year before graduation as the best time to start looking for positions and preparing application materials. Of course, some point out that building your academic CV is something to be done throughout your PhD, by publishing papers, gaining teaching experience, etc.

Below, highlighted advice from SPSP members:

  • Searching for jobs should begin mid-summer. Perhaps July or so since there are some applications due in August already. I'd recommend to choose a time slot once a week that you'll update your job search list since new jobs are coming out all the time. The weekly ritual can help you stay on top of things without going crazy, checking the website every few hours...”
  • “Early... perhaps June of the year before your final year of grad school.”
  • “If someone is looking for a traditional academic job that begins in the Fall, I think you need to start looking in the summer one year before you'd like to start. I began the process in October, after I had proposed my dissertation and I missed out on a lot of opportunities.”
  • “July of the year before you expect to be applying.”
  • “Prep all your materials (including job talk) the summer before and start looking for postings in July. My first job due date was August 15th. But of course you should preparing literally your whole time in grad school, by trying to publish papers, getting teaching experience, etc.”
  • “Prep materials over the summer - June, July. Job ads will start in August, usually around the middle.”
  • “Start preparing by June at the latest if you want to be ready for the August roll-out of positions. You need to start earlier if you want jobs in the southern hemisphere.”
  • “Summer (August) before the fall semester you plan to go out on the market.”
  • “The actual search process should probably begin at the end of the AY prior to the "search year". That is, if I plan to search for jobs in 2017-2018, I should start looking in May 2017
  • “Summer before (June/July)”
  • “Start writing statements during summer or beginning of September”

For Post-Doc positions, there may be a different timeline.

  • “If you're going for a postdoc in an area that isn't well funded, I would recommend beginning to apply for individual funding 1.5 years before the postdoc start date.”
  • “July for faculty positions the next year (begin prepping materials); Jan/Feb for post-doc positions.”

Others would recommend even earlier.

  • “Anytime really. I think if schedule permits, getting a foot in the door in the area of choice may provide an easier transition later, and the gained experience certainly cannot hurt.”
  • “As soon as you have finished your prelims/proposed your dissertation.”
  • “Keep it in mind forever but start working in materials the May before you plan to go on the market so you have plenty of time for feedback and advice.”


And some, really early!

  • “At birth”

A big “thank you” to all the SPSP members who dedicated their time to give us valuable advice.