Academic Careers

Be sure to consult your faculty advisors and others in your graduate program for specific advice about the practices in your academic discipline.  

Most tenure-track positions are advertised in the fall through national publications and through communications from scholarly/disciplinary associations. Short-term positions are announced throughout the year and may not be widely advertised, but rather posted on the college’s or university’s website or only circulated at the departmental level.

Check with advisors and colleagues about where positions are posted in your discipline.

Some places to begin looking:

Curriculum Vitae
The curriculum vitae (CV) is a comprehensive summary of your academic experiences. While the content can vary in different disciplines, typical elements include your contact information, education, academic honors and awards, research/scholarship and teaching experience, publications/other creative works, presentations, professional memberships, service, professional training, and reference list. Your CV grows in length as your career progresses.

There isn’t a standard format for the organization of the content in a CV. It’s helpful to look at CVs from others in your field, especially the CVs of new faculty who are in positions similar to the one you seek. You can improve your CV by sharing your CV with other students in your program for proofreading and feedback. It is also a good idea to ask your advisor or committee members to review your CV.

The Writing Center at UW-Madison offers workshops on CVs and cover letters.

How to prepare your curriculum vitae (rev. ed.). 2003. A. L. Jackson and C. K. Geckeis. Chicago: VGM Career. (Available electronically through the UW-Madison library)

The Academic Job Search Handbook (4th Edition) has sample CVs. 2008. J.M. Vick and J.S. Furlong. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press. (Available at the UW-Madison library) The 3rd edition by M. M. Heiberger and J.M.Vick has much of the same advice and is also recommended.

Cover Letters
A cover letter accompanies your CV and highlights aspects of it relevant to the position. It includes paragraphs on your research and teaching experience and future plans. The cover letter is a vehicle to express your professionalism and understanding of the institution/department to which you are applying. Customize your cover letter by highlighting how your skills and experience fit the advertised position and will address the needs of the department.

Basics of Cover Letter Writing – Richard M. Reis, Chronicle of Higher Education
Cover Letter Samples – Univ. of Pennsylvania Basics of Cover Letter Writing

Statements of Teaching Philosophy
A statement of your teaching philosophy reflects your beliefs about teaching and provides concrete examples of your teaching strategies and their effectiveness. It illustrates how you have or would make choices about content and teaching strategies in terms of the needs of students in your discipline and for the kinds of classes you will teach.

Guide, rubric, and samples – Univ. of Michigan

Dissertation Abstract and Research Statement
The dissertation abstract is a brief document of 1-2 pages that describes your research/scholarship in a way that is interesting and appealing to people who may not be specialists in your area. Answer “So what?” by explaining how your work fits in a broad context and contributes to your field

Research statements may include a summary of your dissertation, but the focus is on your future plans. It describes your plans for research beyond the dissertation over the next 3-5 years.

How to write a research statement and samples – Duke Univ.
Writing a Research Plan – Jim Austin, Science Careers 

Diversity Statements
A diversity statement is a brief document (usually 2 – 3 paragraphs) that describes your perspective on diversity, in terms of your past contributions, current activities and future commitments to making equity, inclusion and diversity a part of your professional career.  According to Carnegie Mellon University’s Global Communication Center, “the goal of the diversity statement is to show how your past experiences have made you a diverse candidate, and how you’ll apply that diverse perspective at your target institution in your future research and teaching pursuits.” Academic job postings will indicate if they require a separate diversity statement to be submitted with your job application materials. DELTAalso holds workshops on developing diversity statements.

Making Sense of the Diversity Statement – Karen Kelsky, Chronicle of Higher Ed.
Don’t Dodge the Diversity Question! – Nicole Matos, Chronicle of Higher Ed.
How to Write a Diversity Statement – Stephanie Arr, The Advanced Edit
NB: Diversity statements are routinely requested from UC system universities.


Credentials Service
Interfolio offers on-line confidential delivery of your CV, transcripts, letters of reference and other credentials to search committees.

Phone interviews, Skype interviews, conference interviews and campus visits require different types of preparation. Some tips here:

Faculty whose students have been hired recently and recent graduates are sources for information about starting salaries in your field. Non tenure-track positions typically pay significantly less than tenure-track positions within an institution. Salaries for new assistant professors vary by discipline, with salaries in the humanities lower than those in other fields.

If you have an offer for a tenure-track position, look at the total compensation – salary and the benefits for you and your dependents. If it is a 9-month appointment, ask if there are opportunities to apply for summer support.

The following annual reports can give you an idea of the ranges of salaries at different types of institutions:

The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) also collects faculty salary information by discipline.

Positions can be pulled at any time so you don’t have an offer that you can “take to the bank” until you have an offer in writing. You can negotiate the terms of your offer. Institutions have different constraints in what they can offer, so ask for what you need and be prepared to hear no. Think of the negotiation as a discussion of the conditions that you need to be successful in the position. Chris Golde recommends that you think about what you need to be maximally productive as well as what you would need to get by. Items that could be negotiated include: salary, benefits, start date, teaching load in the first year, travel funds, research/summer support, research equipment, facilities, and relocation expenses.

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