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A Timeline for a Job Search in Mathematics - SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER

Cameron Sawyer
  1. Ask three to five people to write letters of recommendation for you. Provide them with your CV, cover letter, teaching statement, research description, and other pertinent information, such as your teaching evaluations. The more they know about you, the better their letters will be. Ask them to visit your classroom and observe your teaching if they haven't already. Let them know if you want their letter to address your academic skills, teaching proficiency, or both. Asking is the "easy" part -- the difficulty lies in getting them to actually write and mail the recommendation.  Give them 2-3 weeks, and then check to see if they are done.  Then start reminding them periodically until the letters are written.
  2. Ask as many people as possible to read and give you suggestions on improving your CV, cover letter(s), teaching statement, and research description. These need to be polished, and there should be NO ERRORS!
  3. Start looking at the JOB ADS: Many (but not all -- you should still check the print versions) academic job ads are available over the web from the sites listed below. Some schools advertise on more than one of these sites, but many advertise on only one. Keep copies of the ads in a computer file until you are ready to send out applications. (You might want to organize them by their application deadline.)  Many applicants check only the EIMS employment listings, but if you are interested in the audience of any of the other publications, they are also worth a look.
    1. Employment Information in the Mathematical Sciences (EIMS), the AMS job listing is searchable, by subject area, geographical location, and keyword (e.g. "liberal arts" or "selective").  Unfortunately, not all schools post here. If you are an AMS member, you can subscribe to the EIMS employment listing and have new listings sent to you by e-mail.
    2. MAA Employment Opportunities are listed by the date they were posted. They are there for only four weeks, and then they are deleted. Most postings at this site tend to be for teaching-oriented schools.
    3. AWM and SIAM Professional Opportunities are listed by the date they were posted. They are on their respective site only for about 2 months, and then they are deleted.  These seem, respectively, to be schools wanting to appear open to hiring women or especially seeking applied mathematicians.
    4. The Chronicle of Higher Education posts new lists each Friday. (You can get the list one week sooner if you subscribe to the Chronicle.) Once they post a new list, the old one is no longer available electronically, so make sure to save a copy of any listing of possible interest.  It appears that these are mostly two-year colleges or four-year colleges with high teaching loads.
    5.'s format is a list augmented with new entries at the beginning. Keep track of the jobs you are interested in so you don't search the whole page each time.  These have a tendency to be regional schools, often with high teaching loads.
    6. If you are not tied to the USA, check out the Canadian Mathematics Society Employment Resources, Euro-Math-Jobs, and Australian Mathematical Society's Academic Vacancies.
  4. Send an application to any school in which you are really interested, even if they don't have a job listing or don't seem to be looking for someone with your qualifications (be up front about this in your cover letter).  Many people have successfully found jobs this way when a campus has an unexpected position open up due to a death, resignation, surge in enrollment, etc.  If you want to work in a particular region, Yahoo! Get Local allows you to find all colleges and universities in a state, with links to each school's web site (Choose the state, then choose Education and click on College and University.)
  5. After spotting an appealing ad, start researching the school and the position.
    1. On the school's web site, read about the school and the math department.  Hint: Note the web address on the ad page if you had to search for it -- you might want it again later.  Try to determine if this is a school where you would like to work.  This is the time to determine the ambiance of the school: student population, department size, and location, among other things.  Important information to obtain is the name, e-mail, and phone number of the chair of the department and/or the search committee chair.
    2. Check the US News rating for the school.  Take these with a grain of salt -- they don't necessarily rate a school on the same things that you will think are important.
    3. Salary information is available from The Chronicle of Higher Education.  You must be a subscriber to get the latest years information, but you can get the previous year for free.
    4. Once you have an idea about your potential salary, you can check out the cost of living in the area.

Cameron Sawyer, "A Timeline for a Job Search in Mathematics - SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER," Convergence (November 2004)


Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications