How to get an academic position without applying.

March 16, 2015 - 4 minutes read

tourI applied to a dozen academic positions, without any luck,” said Jon, an aspiring P.I.

Time to go on tour,” I said.

I hear this all of the time from postdocs who apply to academic postings. If they don’t get an interview, they usually say they’ll just wait till the next round of openings. There may be a “hiring” cycle. However, jobs and positions are always open.

The dirty little hiring secret of which many aren’t aware, is that many advertised positions already have candidates slated for them. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 70% of most positions are found through networking. There’s no reason to assume academic recruitment is any different. In a tight academic community, network connections are even more common. Therefore, building network connections increases the chances of finding an academic position.

So how can you build these network connections?

In order to make use of this information, you need to get out there. Make yourself visible by utilizing the network of colleagues you already have in place. You never know who’s connect to who. Those connections can lead to a member of a recruiting committee.

This is a sort of informal interviewing process that most top hiring agencies and talent scouts engage in. It gets down to the raw talent that many are seeking.

So, how can you do this on your own?

Network. Go on tour.

  1. Call on trusted colleagues or collaborators that can vouch for your work. Have them invite you to give a seminar or a talk featuring some of your most recent publications. This is a perfect way to create an engaging dialogue with an audience and potential recruitment committee members.
  2. Provide value to the other departmental members’ research. Meeting with other departmental talks, seminars and retreats can open new connections that normally may have been overlooked. The value and help that you provide can be reciprocated through future connections.
  3. Make your host look good. Talk about what you learned from them. If you’re invited to give a talk or speak, promote your host’s work and communicate their value over your own.
  4. Repeat. Do this again and again, the more you self promote by presenting your work, the more you’ll be opening possible connections. You never know who will attend your talk. There may be an important influential committee member in the audience.

Don’t apply for a departmental position. Apply your knowledge to help a department. Every group is looking for helpful colleagues to move them upward and to ultimately pull in better talent and better funding opportunities.

You have an expertise. Advertise it and let others know about your work.

When was the last talk you gave? Who did you speak to afterwards? Leave a comment.

Let me help you to be successful. Do you need some coaching on how to actually engage your network?

 

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