Academic Work Search

Before You Begin

First, you should develop a good sense of your skills, credentials, and options. This assessment of your qualifications will give you an idea of what you have to offer to an employer. In other words, why should an institution hire you? You may realize that there are some skills or experiences that academic institutions may be looking for that you do not have. You may need to take a course, submit some papers, present at a conference, or find some other method of gaining these qualifications.

  • Factors to Consider
    • Where would you like to live and work? Would you prefer an urban, suburban, or rural environment?
    • What sort of institution appeals to you? Could you work at an institution that only had undergraduate studies, or in a college?
    • What are your research, teaching, and publishing goals?

Keep in mind that you will need to be somewhat flexible, especially if there are limited opportunities for research/teaching work in your particular field.

  • Department/Divisional Resources
    Seek advice from your program supervisor, and check to see if your division has resources, like a listserv, that can assist you in your search.
  • Start Early
    Most schools have initial application deadlines in the fall of the previous year and this is one of the busiest times for program supervisors and career counsellors.
    • Update your CV
    • Gather and submit materials in the months preceding the application deadlines
    • Let your referees know that you are entering the job market and provide them with a copy of your updated CV. Give them plenty of time to write letters of reference
    • Submit applications well in advance of deadline

Students who have not completed their dissertations are urged to consult their departments to determine the best time to begin their academic search. Some departments and job searchers have observed that applying too soon can be detrimental for you in the end, and that it is wise to complete your dissertation before applying for academic positions.

Graduate Dossier Service (GDS) and References

The St. George Campus Career Centre (416-978-8015) offers the Graduate Dossier Service (GDS), which is available to all University of Toronto doctoral students.

This service acts as a confidential depository of letters of reference, transcripts, and CVs for graduate students seeking advertised academic positions in academic institutions.

For more information about the GDS, visit

Keep in mind that hiring committees will check references. In cases where members of the hiring committee know your referees, they are particularly likely to speak to them directly. This can be to your benefit, since it allows your referee an opportunity to inform the committee in further detail about you and your work.

Marketing Yourself

  • Tips for Your CV and Statement or Cover Letter
    • Review the job description. Are there key areas of research or teaching expertise they are seeking?
    • Research the department. Who are the key faculty members?
    • Find out if someone in your network knows anyone in the department who can provide you with important insights
    • Keep your cover letter to 2 pages maximum
  • Campus Visit /Interview
    • Usually 3 to 5 candidates
    • Commonly held over 1-2 day period
    • Can include interview with full committee, individual meetings with committee members and the Dean
    • Frequently includes a job talk/partial lecture
    • Can include social events
  • Tips for Campus Visits
    • Arrive the day before to have a good night’s sleep
    • Every interaction, formal and informal, form part of your interview
    • Stay well-rested
    • Limit your alcohol
    • Come prepared with questions for each committee member


Help On Campus


Last update: September 2014