Applying for Faculty Positions

Photo by   Dimitris Papantzikos  on  Scopio

The timelines for vet school, internship, and residency are fairly straightforward: these all begin and end in the summer.  What about when you finish your residency and you are getting ready to move on to private practice or academia? Here are some important considerations when applying for faculty positions.

  1. Faculty positions come open Whenever.  Unlike the rest of your professional progression, faculty positions are not designed to start during the summer.  They come available because faculty retire, because positions are created, because faculty leave, and other reasons. All of which means that they don’t open on any reliable schedule.  Therefore, you have to keep your eyes open continuously, because something might open up the next week.
  2. Most third-year residents will begin searching in the fall of the third year, around September/October.  If you begin your search in the spring, you may miss out on some good positions. However, realize that, because positions are opening continuously, you will also need to search continuously.
  3. Apply anywhere you think you could possibly be happy.  Don’t only apply for your ideal position. I think the only limitation I would really advise you consider is the weather.  Small town, large city- you can find your niche in either of these. But if you refuse to live somewhere blindingly cold, then don’t apply to Michigan.  If you cannot stand the heat, don’t apply to Florida. Otherwise, apply everywhere and then, if you get an interview, see if it may be a good fit. You never actually know until you go for an interview.  I have interviewed dozens of faculty who were pleasantly surprised by the institution during the interview and ended up quite happy somewhere they were a little unsure about.
  4. You can find faculty listings on the individual schools’ websites (there are only 30 vet schools in the U.S. and not many more in English-speaking overseas countries), on your specialty college’s website, and on third-party services.  I have primarily used and may also have relevant postings, but sifting through them is frustrating. I recommend searching weekly, or whenever you have downtime.
  5. Create a good, simple letter of intent and a nice, clean, updated CV.  Make sure your CV focuses on the things that are important for academia.  Speak to potential references about your interest in applying for academic positions so they can be prepared for phone calls.
  6. Put your application in!  It can be scary, but you’ll need to do it eventually.  Realize that you may never hear back if they don’t interview you.  If you interview, then don’t hear back after 3-4 months, you can send a follow-up email.  But it is not uncommon that an institution will hire a new faculty and forget to tell all of the applicants that the position is filled.  If that happens, try not to feel too bad and move on.

There you have it, applying for a faculty position in a nutshell!  Do you have any questions not addressed here? Put them in the comments!

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