Careers in Academia


Interfolio, a dossier service, is required by some institutions when applying for academic positions.

Understanding the process, researching the campus and department, carefully reviewing expectations outlined in the job description, and considering your “fit” for the position are all critical steps in a successful job search in the academy. Academic institutions emphasize teaching, research and service differently. They have unique and diverse student populations. Their missions drive programming and resource allocations. Employment commitments may be short or long-term and include benefits, or not. Understanding these differences is important when pursuing a position in the academy.

In addition, understanding what motivates your pursuit of an academic career is essential. Do you like teaching? Working with undergraduate students? Bench or lab work? Grant writing? The academic job market is increasingly competitive. We've interviewed alumni now working in the academy. Learn what they have to say about their own career choices.

Job Search Steps

There are four basic steps when applying for an academic career. Each step listed below links to resources with tips and suggestions for successfully navigating the process. 

  1. Launching an academic job search
  2. Developing application materials
  3. Preparing for the interview
  4. Negotiating a position

Postdoc positions

Additional Considerations


ICC’s career coordinators provide one-to-one advising and hold workshops and calendar of events to help prepare you for the academic job search. We can help you explore all aspects of the process from planning your search and putting your application materials together to interviewing for and negotiating a position. Since the academic job search process varies between disciplines, you will also want to consult your faculty advisor and mentors for discipline-specific guidance.

Many students and scholars are now opting to simultaneously pursue academic and non-academic positions. This dual strategy requires clarity and honing of your narrative. Why are you pursuing this career path? What makes you a good fit for this position? What are your long term career goals? To help you better understand your own values, interests, skills and working style, you can participate in the Career Assessment Series for graduate students and postdocs.

  • The Professor is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. into a Job, by Karen Kelsky (2015)
  • The Academic Job Search Handbook, by Julia Miller Vick and Jennifer S. Furlong (2008)
  • The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career, by John A. Goldsmith and John Komlos (2001)
  • Curriculum Vitae Handbook, by Will Coghill and Rebecca Anthony (2011)
  • Tomorrow's Professor - Contains archives of articles on all aspects of professional development for those entering academia.
  • Next Wave's Career Development Site - with information on career development for postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty members.
  • Academic Jobs Wiki - Users share information (usually anonymously) about their job search and the status of particular searchs. May be a useful tool for those seeking inside information on the process.
  • Ph.D. Career Guide - Website and blog on Ph.D. career paths. Created by Rutgers graduate student, Michael D'Ecclessis for fellow Ph.D.s. Includes information about careers beyond academia and academic careers.