Launching an Academic Job Search


The academic job market has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Increasing numbers of qualified candidates are competing for fewer faculty positions. Many fields are heavily impacted. When considering options, it is good to understand the different expectations and commitments for tenure track, non-tenure track, lecturer, visiting scholar, adjunct, academic administrator, postdoctoral scholar, and staff researcher. Each institution (i.e., 4-year public university, private liberal arts, community college, and for-profit colleges) has a unique mission and emphasis on research, teaching and service. Given the level of competition, it is important you understand these differences and the job prospects in your field. Here are some things to consider doing:

  • Do your research.
  • Work with your advisor and mentors.
  • Be strategic. Take advantage of the multiple professional and career development resources available on campus, through GradPathways (Graduate Studies).
  • Develop an Individual Development Plan (IDP) early so you have a plan that will help you navigate and make the most of your graduate school and/or postdoc years. For those in S.T.E.M. or biomedical fields, is an excellent tool to use to complete self-assessments, research career opportunities and complete an IDP.
  • Learn which academic institution is the best fit for you. To gain a better understanding of the differences between working in a 4-year comprehensive, state or community college, conduct your own informational interview or explore the results of interviews conducted with UC Davis alumni who are teaching in different academic institutions.
  • Visit the ICC's workshop archives [MPP SmartSite] to listen to audio recordings of current faculty members sharing their insights about the mission, expectations, and application processes for different academic institutions.
  • Learn more about what a postdoc position entails from UC Davis postdocs who share tips and suggestions along with additional resources.
  • Make an appointment with an ICC career adviser for guidance and help.


Searching for and landing an academic job takes longer than traditional job searches. Ideally, you should begin planning for your academic career as soon as you begin your doctoral program.

At a minimum, you will want to begin developing your application packet, including curriculum vitae (CV), cover letter, teaching philosophy statement, research statement and also potentially a diversity statement at least three months before being "on the market". Summer is an excellent time to do this. Plan ahead, this job search timeline can help.

For academic teaching positions, the first job announcements typically appear in the summer or early fall of the year before the position starts. In order to be successful in your job search, all of the materials will need to be completed well in advance of the start of the job cycle. Due to the tight job market and competition for faculty positions, you will want your application to be a polished final version by August. This means drafting, redrafting, and redrafting again, getting feedback all along the way from your faculty advisor, mentors, and colleagues.

Make an appointment with an ICC career adviser for guidance and help.

Academic Job Search Websites

Multiple academic job search sites exist. Below are some of the most common. You should also regularly check professional association websites (e.g., AAAS, MLA) and the websites of campuses and departments you are interested in. A department know months, sometimes years, in advance when they will be posting a position. Presenting at conferences and networking can help you stay in the loop, learning in advance when openings are anticipated.