Resources for ecology faculty application

The process of finding a faculty position is, to say the least, challenging and not fun. Listed below are some resources that I’ve found helpful in navigating this path. I cannot overstate my gratitude towards those who generously shared their wisdom. I’m sure there are many many other valuable resources that I’ve overlooked, but I hope this collection may be beneficial for some.

General advice from other fields

  • This blog by Prof. John Regehr contains a tight list of great suggestions.
  • This blog by Prof. Matt Might complies a handful of useful resources. I particularly enjoyed the “Nuggets of general advice” section.
  • This blog by Prof. Jennifer Rexford dispenses concise and high-level points worth thinking.
  • This document by Prof. Arjun Raj offers detailed and thoughtful advice on the entire process.

Eco-evo field-specific resources

  • Where to find job postings. My go-to platform is ecoevojobs. A sincere tip of the hat to the dedicated moderator who consistently maintains this exceptional community resource. This is no easy task, as evidenced by the disappointing state of similar forums in other disciplines.

  • Format CV. An academic CV is expected to follow certain conventions and guidelines. While these standards are often not directly specified in job advertisements, they are generally anticipated and required in practice. This blog written by Prof. Meghan Duffy serves as an outstanding guide for navigating these rules. You can also look up the CVs of some recent hires as reference.

  • Application material. This Github repository hosts a large collection of successful application materials specific to the eco-evo field. I sincerely extend my gratitude to those individuals who were generous enough to share their materials.

  • Interview questions. I found this document penned by Prof. Anurag Agrawal to be extraordinarily helpful. It encompasses not only the standard questions that interviewers might pose, but also highlights the questions you might want to consider asking them (trust me, you will be asked ``Do you have any questions for us'' all the time). Another resource worth exploring is the community-sourced ‘Interview Questions’ section on the ecoevojobs website. Another resource written by Prof. Roei Tell from another field may also prove useful.

  • On-campus interview. I greatly benefited from this blog authored by Prof. Erin Mordecai. In particularly, it offered valuable insights into effectively handling one-to-one meetings with faculty members.

  • Job talk. In preparing my job talk, I found two resources to be particularly helpful: a blog penned by Prof. Erin Mordecai and a paper authored by a collective of students and faculty members at UCLA.

  • Job market statistics. It is good to have a good sense on the reality of the job market. Prof. Jeremy Fox has compiled a wealth of data on the job market, providing useful statistics to help navigate job applications. His paper and his blog Dynamic Ecology are excellent resources.

  • Your advisor and labmates. This might be the most important resource as they can offer specific feedback on your application, unlike the general online comments. I am extremely lucky to work with some great advisors, who are absolutely top of their disciplines, but also exceedingly supportive in guiding their mentees towards success. They have been my greatest asset throughout my application process, providing me with countless insightful comments, especially regarding my research statement and job talk. In addition to my advisors, all the past and current members of these research groups have been incredibly helpful in providing a ton of great feedback.

Most important thing to keep in mind

Above all, safeguarding your mental health throughout the entirety of this process is of the most importance. The stress is often underestimated by people are not in or has not been though the job market. Personally, I knew from the start of grad school that finding a faculty position would be challenging. Nonetheless, the true scale of the struggle only became apparent when I was deeply immersed in the job market.

We must recognize that the academic job market is filled with a significant degree of uncertainty. While the same holds true for the industry, the abundance of job opportunities there somewhat reduces the reliance on luck. The scarcity of tenure-track jobs in academia underscores this inherent unpredictability and intensifies the competition. Yet, it’s all too easy to blame the lack of success as an innate inadequacy of oneself (a trap I definitely fell into too many times). In this context, I found this paper to be an enlightening read.

I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to offer professional mental health advice. Rather, I just want to underscore the significance of self-care—a point often relegated to the sidelines in discussions surrounding faculty applications. Please, remember to prioritize your own well-being.

Chuliang Song
Chuliang Song
(Incoming) Asssistant Professor

I am a quantitative ecologist driven by the curiosity of how biodiversity is generated and maintained.

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