The procedure for submitting a job application is different in each country. In the US applicants are required to submit a ‘job packet’, a collection of documents illustrating their experience in academic life. This article explores how to use it to ‘sell yourself’ and increase your chances of getting an interview.
What is a job packet?
If you are unsure what a ‘job packet’ is, please see this article which gives basic information on what you will need to include:
Points to consider when preparing your job packet:
As well as requiring you to prove your research calibre, US academic employers are interested in your approach to teaching. They want to see evidence that you have thought seriously about what sort of teacher you are and how to get the best out of students in the classroom.
Think of any innovative teaching that you do, perhaps using online materials or setting your students an unusual project. Be self-reflective and assess your own practice carefully. Make sure that you understand what works best in the classroom and why.
Focus on the ways that you’ve used different techniques in different situations. Being able to illustrate that you adjust your teaching depending on the size of the group, their qualifications or their confidence will impress employers.
If you’ve attended any extra teacher training or attended or led pedagogical conferences or workshops include information about these.
In academia in the US student feedback is even more important than it is in the UK. So, if you have strong evidence of your quality of teaching from student testimonials then include this in your job packet.
US universities will want to see a detailed breakdown of your own qualifications. This includes a summary of your degree classification and also information on which modules you took and the grades you achieved. From this your potential employers will be able to see whether you are consistent and have strengths across the board or whether you excelled in a particular area.
Sample of writing
This is an excellent way to really sell yourself and your skills. Think long and hard before deciding which sample of your writing to include. Many scholars at the start of their career send a chapter of their PhD. Pick a chapter in which your show off your writing flair and your original research but also choose one that has the broadest appeal. Remember that academics outside your field of expertise will be reading this. So, pick a writing sample that will ‘speak’ to everyone who reads it and not just the few experts in your research area.
Make sure you get feedback from others, such as your supervisor, colleagues or peers, about the writing sample you propose to send. They will be able to give you constructive criticism on how to improve your presentation and writing standard and it is vital that you present yourself in the best possible light because finding a job in academia in the US is very competitive at the moment.