Where Do You Belong Inside the Academy?
Whether you decide to pursue a tenure-track faculty position or a postdoctoral fellowship, or perhaps an administrative position, your choices are determined not only by your academic discipline, but by your short and long-range goals. These goals are often shaped by understanding the value of the strengths and accomplishments you have gained through graduate school. Begin by thinking about the experiences you have had that gave you the most satisfaction. Was it your teaching, your research, or your leadership involvement? As your skills and abilities develop, as your values and preferences change, and as your experiences and knowledge broaden, your career may transition several times.
Timing your Search
You job search timeline will vary depending on when you plan to finish your dissertation. Your candidacy will be strengthened through the process if you are certain you will be finished prior to starting in a full-time position. During this last demanding year, you will want to carefully manage your time so that you can participate in the job search process as well as the writing of your dissertation.
"Preparing application materials and entering the process demand a lot of time that will interrupt your work on your dissertation, and the payoff for a weak candidacy may not be worth it. Aside from diverting energy from your dissertation, a premature search may use up options in departments that might have responded more favorably to a stronger candidacy at a later stage in your career; a department may not want to reconsider you if they have already decided against you in a previous search.
From the perspective of search committees, substantial progress on a dissertation is important - for both practical and intellectual reasons. The latter signifies greater scholarly maturity, and the former matters for institutional reasons - departments want to hire faculty that they can support confidently for promotion and tenure (whatever the institutional restraints). The more of your work they can see and the further along you are, the more confidence they can have."