The academic hiring season is going to start ramping up soon. If you’re new to the whole process, it pays to spend a little preparation time before the season starts so that you have to spend as little time as possible on finding and applying to positions when things begin in earnest. Trust people when they say that searching and applying is like a job in-and-of-itself and inevitably, you won’t have as much time as you want to dedicate to the task. So anything to streamline the process is a good thing.
I’m concentrating on the finding jobs part in this post. For my own academic job search, I found that searching for positions can be quite time consuming so I took the philosophy that I wanted the jobs to come to me. The underlying philosophy is push vs. pull. When you go out looking for a job in a paper, you’re “pulling” that information. It requires that you search the job ad out; more importantly it also means that you are spending time searching even if there isn’t a job you could apply for inside the paper. “Pushing”, not surprisingly, is the opposite. It’s about the job ad coming to you, much like a friend that connects you to a job they heard about.
I used three web-based services, two in conjunction, to help me: Google alerts, my RSS reader and a web page to RSS feed converter.
Once set-up, Google will send you an email containing the web pages that it has found containing the search terms you’ve provided. I had two alerts set-up last year:
“environmental studies” “tenure track” and “environmental education” “tenure track”
The same Google-fu you use for crafting your searches come into play here. So, I sent Google out to look for pages that had the terms tenure track (not just tenure or track, but both; that’s what the quotation marks do) and my two fields, environmental ed and environmental studies. I then chose what kind of notification worked best (Google can send hits immediately; I settled for daily).
Since setting these up in August 2010, I’ve received 185 emails directing me to pages with tenure-track and environmental studies and 10 emails for my environmental education search. Most were positive hits: ads for tenure-track jobs. Some results are false-positives. Most recently, for example, I got a link to a page trumpeting a University president’s record of starting an environmental studies program and the plans to hire new tenure-track faculty. Not exactly a job ad, but potentially interesting information none-the-less.
RSS reader & web page to RSS converter
Many web pages have a RSS feed that you can subscribe to using a RSS reader (e.g. Google Reader). I like subscribing to feeds because it means I can consolidate my attention in one place: visit my RSS reader once, and every new item since I last visited will appear. No need to visit all the blogs I’m interested in following individually.
Many departmental or faculty hiring sites lack an RSS feed. This typically means you need to bookmark the site and remember to visit it often enough that if a position is posted, you notice. Frustratingly inefficient. Thankfully, the web service Page2RSS can help here. Rather than bookmarking a hiring site, I simply turned it into an RSS feed, then added it to my reader. When new positions were posted, I saw them appear in my reader. Page2RSS even will send you a tweet. Many disciplines have an aggregate listing of jobs (see the CAG job listing, for example). Page2RSS is perfect to set up this webpage as an RSS feed that will deliver new jobs to you, as they’re posted.
There can be a bit of “noise” with this method: any changes to the site will get pushed as an update. So if a department updates a news widget, you might get notification of that. On the whole, however, I found it to be of enough value that I didn’t mind the extra noise. It’s especially valuable when a site doesn’t offer to email you when new jobs are posted.
Job aggregation sites
A strategy that I didn’t mention as part of my web-based services but equally helpful are the job alerts that some (University Affairs being a notable exception) sites allow you to subscribe to. I’ll use the Chronicle of Higher Education job section as the example, though different sites offer similar services. After signing up for an account, you can set-up a job alert, which will send you an email when a job is posted that matches your search criteria. These sites are a rich source, which is why I wanted to mention them. No special hocus-pocus, however, in getting them to work. Register, subscribe and you’re getting job postings right away.