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What Does Applying For an Academic Job Involve?

One kind of career path that opens up to you after doing postgraduate study is an academic job. That’s right – the elusive realm of research, lecturing and teaching is now a realm you can join! These jobs are perfect for those of you who can’t bear to part ways from your subject.

But what exactly do most academic jobs involve? Well, they’re often a combination of research, admin and teaching, so you’ll have to ensure you’re happy to work in all of those areas. As well as what many people think of as an academic role, that is lectures, some tuition and research, there’s all the ‘backstage’ work too. Things such as attending or organising conferences, applying for funding, and setting exams are all things you will probably be required to do.

With that in mind, what sort of skills do you need for an academic job?

#1 Self-motivation
An academic job requires being self-motivated. It’s up to you to plan lectures, organise your own research and ensure everything is done on time.

#2 Organisation and administration
You’ll have to mark work, apply for grants, and plan courses. Then you’ll have to balance your time spent on all of the admin work against being able to do your own research.

#3 Social skills
You can’t just be good at your subject and paperwork to succeed in academia! You’ll have to be capable of working with other academics and students, both at your university and others. We’ve all had that one lecturer who was brilliant, but just didn’t understand people – you want to make sure you’re not that person!

#4 Research  
A large part of any academic job is research. You need to be confident about not only your own research, but organising and assisting others with theirs.

The requirements for an academic job

Academic job So now you know what an academic job involves, let’s take a look at how you can go about getting one. Firstly, the requirements. For arts and humanities, you’ll need a PhD and potentially some post doctoral research. As for the sciences, there’s a bit more of a climb. You’ll need a PhD, then a couple of post-doctoral positions. After this you’ll want a research fellowship, before finally applying for a lectureship role. As you can see, moving into the world of academia is not for the faint of heart! However, there are ways to make it easier – getting published, having a good network of contacts and gaining teaching experience are all things that’ll help you on your way.

Once you’ve got all of these requirements under your belt, it’s time to look at...

Academic job Interview

Academic job interviews differ from other job interviews. Be prepared to talk in depth about any research projects you have done, not just about the skills gained from them, but the actual research itself! It’s important that you can sum up your dissertation succinctly, and also answer in depth questions when asked.

You’ll need to be up to date on the latest developments in your field, and most importantly, the contributions of the university you’re applying to and its staff members. You’ll want to be able to show them how what you do will add to what they do.

As well as this, be prepared to answer questions on your teaching and admin experience. If you look capable of organising things beyond your own research, you’ll come across as a far more well-rounded applicant.

Have prepared answers to some of the more common questions, things such as, how you would teach on certain topics, why does this particular university appeal to you, and what your future research plans are. You don’t want to get caught out!

How to apply for an academic job

But how exactly do you apply for an academic job? To start with you need to look on university websites. Whilst the posts will often be advertised elsewhere too, there’ll be the most detail on the university’s page, often with an email to address queries to.

Then, once you’ve picked out the roles you’re interested in, talk to the people you’re working with at your current university. They’ll be able to give you tips, and could potentially know people at the place you’re applying.

You want to make sure you have all the required documents for application, these will often include:

- Application form

- Current academic CV

- Cover letter

- References

- Statement of interests

- Example of work

Make sure you fulfil all the requirements of applying to a certain role, or no matter how good your application it won’t get looked at. And remember, academia may be a hard world to break into, so if at first you don’t succeed, follow the old saying and try, try, try again!