I’ve talked at about this with fairly large groups in the past. I just want to put this out there now so you all remember. NOW is the time to start applying for jobs in academia for August. Don’t wait until January. NOW is when the first round draft picks are being discussed and when start-up packages are at there largest. NOW is when academic jobs in my area of expertise are first discussed and budgeted. So, if you want an academic job NOW is when you should start looking. I’m not a historian, political science, english discipline type. I’m the “T” in STEM and how I look at getting hired is likely different from the arts. So, use your own judgement those of you who can spell and coherently communicate with people rather than computers.
The hiring process if you want the little “t” truth of it is this. Departments and colleges start looking for August 2013 hires and putting up advertisements NOW to see who they can attract candidates that have post docs, aren’t happy with their assistant professorships, and perhaps people who took visiting professorships. In other words a first round pick in the academic hiring decathlon assistant professor class has four to five years on the job experience, has published two to three times yearly in blind reviews, and is a recognized expert at a national level. We’re not talking about who will get hired, but who they are going to be looking for. People who accept early (likely job offers to arrive in January through March) will have nice tidy entry packages. None of these people will be on short tenure clocks (three-year).
In January and February those universities that haven’t found the exact fit they’re looking for will send out a second or first round open announcement. This can be kind of confusing. The first round sometimes is kind of hidden. People are invited or sometimes nominated by administrations or faculty groups before an advertisement is even placed. In some schools the faculty will get together before the Thanksgiving break and start putting up who they see at other institutions or conferences as possible candidates to be approached. So before anybody ever applies they may have already gotten an idea of what the candidate they are looking for might look like. Public universities have more problem getting away with this but faculty known the people in their discipline and will already be making valuations of credentials before you apply. In other words. Publish, publish, publish if you want to get hired. It is your calling card.
Around May of the hiring year, those schools who have seen their candidate pools dry up because their first, second, and eleventeenth positioned candidates have already found jobs, will all be panicking. A third round of advertisements may show up. Different institutions seem to handle the “oh my gawd nobody will be here to teach in arghhhust” differently. In some cases they’ll skip the hiring process completely and just overload the current faculty. An incentive to be sure for faculty to facilitate a first round or second round successful hire. Some institutions may jump the line a bit and start looking for post docs with teaching requirements or possibly visiting professorships (sometimes called continuing lecturers).
Here is the key. You might be willing to paper the world with job applications which I have seen done. Heck I’ve done it. It is a bad idea. I believe in contacting the faculty at an institution. Getting to know them if you don’t already know them. Reach out and ask questions. Most hiring authorities can and do suggest you contact their representative. Some hiring authorities say that is against the rules (it isn’t). Highly authoritarian administrations usually fall into the latter category. How they talk to you when they don’t owe you anything is a good indicator of how they will treat you when they have some amount of control. Let your personality determine your path.
There is another thing to think about. Academia is filled with biases, nasty little surprises, and lots of fads. There are a lot of fads. Being able to talk those up when you find them in an advertisement is a good idea. Being able to talk them up and talk the basic principles of teaching, service, and scholarship of the academy is a blessing. For those of you seeking employment in the Fall 2013 time frame. Apply NOW.