Hunting the Smaller Jungle: While You Wait

Read earlier posts in this series by MAE student Sabrina Martin:


After your cover letters have been completed, your LORs sent and your applications postmarked, what do you do while you wait?

Many people might be overcome with a fear of being forgotten by a search committee, and thus commence sending countless thank you letters and emails in hopes of an encouraging response.

Please don’t do this.

While some careers encourage follow-up correspondence, the simple fact of the matter is that these committees and human resource directors are shoveling through hundreds of applicants’ materials—your letter, although well-meaning, is only going to waste their time, which could be better spent eviewing applications (maybe even yours!).

But what should you do during that in-between time after your application and your invitation to interview?

  • Keep Searching.

Although you may think you have already found your dream job, you should still keep searching and applying. You could find five more positions that are perfect for your qualifications while you are waiting for word from the first position.

  • Review and revise your cover letter.

If you have applied to positions and have been turned down (as all of us will be at one point or another), perhaps something to occupy your time usefully would be to try to make changes to your cover letter and résumé. Have a friend read it over—do they get a good sense of who you are as an applicant just from the letter?

  • Practice a teaching demonstration.

If and when you do hear from a prospective employer, they will probably ask you to come to their location for an interview and a teaching demonstration. Generally, they will look for a 15-30 minute teaching demonstration that shows how well you present material, how you vary your teaching style (is it a 30-minute lecture, or are you including activities, questions, etc?) and how you can engage your students. Some schools will even have a panel of students present at your demonstration, so the more you practice (even if it is only in front of your mirror) the more polished and professional you will sound. Remember, practice makes perfect!

  • Review the school and the department.

See who is already working in the department you are trying to enter. What are their qualifications? Specialties? Try to imagine how you would fit into the community that is already there, because at some point during an interview, this might be an excellent way to show them how interested you are in the position.

  • Don’t forget to study.

Yes, even though you are jumping headlong into the job market, you may still have things to finish up at school, so make sure you do your homework. Whether it be a thesis to complete, an exam to pass, or making sure you’ve met all the degree requirements, you will have plenty of things to occupy your time while you await word from your applications.

In my next installment, I’ll be discussing ways to prepare for your on-campus interview.

Please leave any questions or comments, and I will respond as soon as I am able.

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