Job Hunting Workshop Notes

from my talk at Auburn University

Posted by Steven Clontz on March 31, 2017

First things first, here are the relevant links.

  • and
    • Online LaTeX editors
    • Typeset professional documents and save/share them in the cloud
    • Professional network for academics
    • Connect with colleagues at other institutions (useful for potential name recommendation, but cannot replace networking in real life)
    • One of the main job posting websites for academic jobs in mathematics

Some more detailed notes follow.

Typesetting Professional Documents with Overleaf/ShareLaTeX

Something you can start doing now, no matter how far off your job hunt is, is learn to typeset professional documents. In addition to writing research papers, it’s good practice to use professional-looking templates based on the LaTeX typesetting system. Learning LaTeX isn’t hard, especially if you use cloud LaTeX services like Overleaf and ShareLaTeX.

Both websites allow you to select pre-made templates for CVs, cover letters, and so on. You can then open up the LaTeX code within your web browser, make your edits to customize its contents to yourself, and then save/share the result online or download a PDF. First impressions are important, and using LaTeX to typeset documents is the industry standard, so it’s wise to use it when presenting yourself to prospective future collegues.

Networking in real life and online

Your main goal as an applicant is to get your foot in the door. In a sea of qualified applicants, you only have a few opporunities to catch a search committee’s attention. One important way is to have a colleague at the school you’re applying to. That means that as soon as you have research to share, you need to start going to conferences and meeting people in your field.

There’s a very small chance that you’ll know someone on the search committee. Howeer, many search committees will ask their colleagues for input. Those collegues will probably (at most) look through the list of applicant names, their schools, and their fields. So, you want your name to be familiar to that colleague, at least enough that they will take the extra step to read your cover letter.

There’s no substitute for meeting colleagues in real life. However, another tool you can use to follow up on a real life connection is ResearchGate. While search committees should read every cover letter they receive, your colleague may not be serving on that committee. In that case, they may only have a list of names, schools, and fields of research; thus, you want to increase your chances of name recognition.

Finding jobs and submitting applications

While there are other sites for academic mathematics jobs, the only one I used during my search was MathJobs. You should begin looking on this site 13 months before you want to start; for example, if you’re looking for a job to start in August 2018, you should begin looking in July 2017.

Here’s my recommended workflow. Start by making an account. Once you’ve logged in, go through all the job postings by clicking All on the View Jobs page. You’ll probably notice that 80% of the postings don’t apply to you, depending on your field of research and geographical preferences. Mark those jobs with an X so they will be hidden by default when logged in. Other jobs you will know that you want to apply. Mark those with a checkmark.

Now once you’ve filtered all the postings, you can click the yellow jagged cloud on future logins to see what’s been posted since the last time you visited. I recommend doing this once a week so you don’t get overwhelmed.

There are other places for advice on how to write CVs, cover letters, etc., beyond my general advice above on using professional LaTeX typesetting. One particular thing I’d like to mention: make sure you make the case in your cover letter for why you want that job particularly. A connection with a faculty member or the local community is a great way to catch the attention of search committees you have a particular interest in.

Best of luck!