OMT WebOrganization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management
It’s that time of year again – time to prepare, submit, and/or evaluate job applications. So, we thought it would be timely to post some tips for navigating the job market. We will be posting a series of articles on the topic including: (1) Preparing for the Job Market, (2) Scanning the Job Market and Applying for Jobs, (3) Tackling the Interview, and (4) Managing Job Offer(s). To get some firsthand information on the job market experience, we interviewed four successful candidates from last year – Simona Giorgi, Adam Cobb, Shon Hiatt, and Aleksios Gotsopoulos.
Adam Cobb received his PhD in Management and Organizations from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He is now an Assistant Professor of Management at Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania.
Here are the words of wisdom that these candidates imparted on us about preparing for the job market:
1. What are some key steps one should take to prepare for the job market?
SIMONA: Work on a framing that resonates with a broader audience than the scholars you tend to cite.
ADAM: It is critical to get yourself organized. Getting materials together, searching the postings, sending applications, etc. is a process that took much longer than I expected. The time you can put in early in order to get yourself organized will pay off down the road. Develop a process for how you will search for postings, determine where you want to apply making sure to note due dates for applications, and how you will ensure that your materials arrive in time. It’s a lot to keep track of, but if you come up with a good plan of action it will pay dividends.
The most important thing for me was meeting with my advisor early in the process. You need to make sure you understand what her/his process is and work around that. Same goes with your other letter writers. If members of the support staff are responsible for sending letters, meet with them early and figure out what the “standard” process is for getting them your materials and how they will get them to the schools to which you apply. Depending upon who is on your committee, you may also deal with support staff in different departments or from different institutions. You want to make sure everyone is on the same page. One thing that was difficult for me was trying to remember that my applications were the most important thing to me at that point in time. But I had to depend upon others who were not solely focused on helping me find a job! A big part of the application process is managing the logistical side, and as a result, “managing” the people you depend upon to make sure your materials arrive on time and in order.
Once you have a sense of the logistics and timing, if you have not done so already, it is imperative to get your materials together (i.e. research statement, teaching statement, writing samples …). If at all possible, have not only members of your committee review those, but get others in the department to review your materials as well. When you send an application to a school, you will not likely know who all is on the department’s search committee and what their research background is. You want to make sure that those with research interests that are different from yours can understand what you do and how you might fit within their department. I was fortunate to have some OB scholars review my materials and that helped me clarify my research statement considerably.
Recent graduates from your institution and junior faculty that you know (inside or outside your department) are also a valuable resource. Again, I was fortunate that I had a lot of people share their materials so I knew what a good research statement and teaching statement looked like. These individuals also gave me excellent advice on the best way to handle the logistical side of the job market – how to approach your letter writers and gently nudge them if they haven’t completed their letter, how to work with the support staff to ensure that letters get sent out in a timely manner, etc. (And once you get scheduled for talks, again these individuals can be instrumental in helping you think about questions to ask and other things to consider when you are on your visit.)
In short, get organized and stay organized!
SHON: One important step is to finish your job talk paper and circulate it among colleagues for feedback. I’ve heard that while the vita and research/teaching background help you obtain a fly-out, the job talk and job-talk paper seal the deal.
ALEXSIOS: The most important thing is to have a dissertation that is reasonably close to completion. If you haven’t finalized data collection, don’t have a reasonably clear idea about the direction your dissertation is going in, and don’t have a ready-to-send job market paper by end of August, you might consider spending an additional year at grad school. Being too early on the market not only makes it more difficult to get great offers, but it also means that your tenure clock will start ticking too early.
Go to AOM a couple of times, go to the parties, and talk to people. It’s always good to know people at the places you’ll be applying too.
Realise that what you see and get exposed to at your school might only be one part of the elephant. The scholars that you consider to be big and important in the field, and the topics that you consider as ‘hot’ might mean nothing to people at other schools, even if the department there has the same name as your department.
2. While you were preparing the list of jobs to apply for, what were some of the considerations that entered into your decisions?
SIMONA: Colleagues whose work I admire and the location.
ADAM: Admittedly, I cast a wide net. But the applications for which I spent the most time and effort, the most significant consideration was the scholars presently at the institution. I spent a fair amount of time looking at departmental websites and considering whether individuals there had overlapping interests. If they did, I tried to work that into my cover letter. I also considered location. I applied to several schools I might not have ordinarily considered due to the school’s proximity to my family and friends.
SHON: One consideration was whether I fit the job description. I tried to tailor my job packet and description as close to the job as possible. Family was a big consideration. Because being close to family was important to my wife at this stage of our lives, I limited my search to positions in Canada and the U.S. At the same time, with four children under the age of 6, I wanted a job, so I applied widely.
ALEXSIOS: If you are absolutely not interested in some place, there is not much reason to apply. On the other hand, the cost of applying broadly is minimal. So, do apply broadly. What might look as a relatively unattractive opening at the beginning of the market, might still be the only offer you get. Plus, you often don’t know what a school is like before visiting it. A place that looks great in theory, might be mired by internal conflicts etc. And a school that looks less attractive in theory, might have a number of young and dynamic academics that would make perfect colleagues.
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