Ph.D. Year 5+

Congratulations! Your journey beyond the PhD has prepared you for exciting opportunities to apply your innovative research skills and experiences coveted in the academic and beyond the academy settings. In preparation to launch your career consider the following resources and tips.

Exploring the range and depth of your expertise BEYOND what in written in your CV and demonstration of your stated skills. Overall, there are three goals:  

  • Teaching potential – skill in communicating and interpreting complex material  
  • Research potential – skill as a critical and thoughtful thinker (e.g., showcasing curiosity and ability to generate insightful and new perspectives   
  • Collegiately – your soft skills in interpersonal relationships (are you friendly, positive, collaborative?) 

  • First round interviews are meant to determine if you and your work is enough of a “fit” to warrant a second interview, a visit to the campus  
    • Form your own sense of how well you mesh with the department  
    • Good time to clarify anything in the job ad that you found unclear 
  • Due to the pandemic and economic stability, many institutions bring finalists to the campus and some positions get canceled even after the second-round interviews making this situation particularly difficult  
  • Job posted in September and October, meaning interviews conducted January or February
  • How to Prepare 
    • Write a customized cover letter for your application and review it repeatedly while jotting down notes in answering the questions  
      • What did you initially find exciting or enticing about the position?  
      • What did you learn about the institution and the department in writing your cover letter  
      • Which aspects of your research, teaching, and service mentioned do you plan to emphasize in the interview  
      • What questions do you have about the position or the department  
    • Zoom set-up is key: get situated in quiet room with door shut, elevate laptop so you are looking straight into the camera, use notes but use sticky notes to place around edge of your laptop to avoid looking down  
    • Prepare questions for search committee as this expected: Example questions include  
      • How would you describe the campus culture?  
      • What sorts of faculty-development resources does the college offer  
      • What does the tenure process look like at this institution?  

A time to demonstrate your ability while truly getting to know your colleagues  

What to Expect:

  • One-one-one meetings with faculty members in the hiring department and related program  
  • Lunches and dinners with groups of professors (and/or students)  
  • A tour of the campus  
  • Meetings with campus or school leadership  
  • (1) Research presentation, Teaching Demonstration, and (3) Chalk Talk (Specific for fields in the sciences)  

Research Presentation:  

  • Demonstrate depth (30 minutes) – Breadth or thinking beyond your discipline (10 minutes) – Future Potential (5-10 minutes) 
  • Heart and Soul of your work – core of your dissertation research 
  • Showcase how you would establish a research program for your institution 
  • Need to answer the “SO WHAT” on how your work demonstrates an important area (e.g., novel methodology, insightful research findings) and the “WHAT ELSE” regarding expectations of the future 
  • Pick one or two key elements of dissertation research (15 minutes each) and not tell the entirety of your research work  
  • Stick with the familiar  
  • Avoid being a one-trick pony, in that, showcase breadth and ability to think in other areas and disciplines 
  • Avoid Humor or at least save it to the end  
  • Communicate energy and excitement over the topic  

Teaching Demonstration:

Faculty and Student Questions:

  • Anticipate questions (colleagues will be helpful to best answering these)  
  • Take time to answer the questions (e.g., think of oral qualifying exams)  
  • Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, that’s a great question to think about” Or, “that would be a great follow-up research question” 
  • Think of a question as a part of the dialogue not as a criticism you must try to deflect 
  • Remember: you are in control of the questions and to ensure safety or if discussion goes off topic  


  • Send thank-you note to the head of the search committee after both rounds of the interview (e.g., chair, the person most involved in the visit and ask them to pass on your appreciation to others)  

General Tips  

  • Keep to the time limit or even under time  

How to Prepare:  

  • Creating the presentation 
    • Make slides that can easily be read and interpreted but not overtly too simplistic 
    • Provide nice graphics 
    • Avoid jittering multi-colored slides  
    • Continue to remake slides. 
    • Avoid jargon and acronyms as it could be exclusive  
    • Ensure strong organization and logical flow (e.g., avoid any potential confusion)  
    • Make presentation personal where you want to engage, not encourage  
  • Practice Makes Perfect! 
    • Practice out loud to yourself, then in front of friends and colleagues, ask them to be critical  
    • Ask audience to be critical of each slide 
    • Be mindful of time limit  
  • Check Settings  
    • Check out the room in advance (know where light switch is and projector)  
    • Plan for disaster or technological blow-ups 

  • Some faculty members will only view the job schedule and base their entire decision on this portion so be most prepared in this area  
  • Search committees have already viewed your qualifications in the review of your application and thus you meet the basic qualifications so your interview and job-talk is not about proving but about CONVINCING the search committee that you are a right fit for the department  
  • Find out from search committee chair who will be audience (e.g., all faculty member, hybrid of faculty and graduate students) to best tailor presentation  
  • Have fun! The less pressure the greater the chance that you will be able to convey your true personality and enthusiasm  
  • Most doctoral students may have experiences talking in all of these but could feel like a skill you don’t feel like you’ve mastered, you’ll want to set up time to practice. We suggest reaching out to your campus career center

This section covers the core documents that help make your academic job package: the CV or Curriculum Vitae, the academic cover letter, your research statement, your teaching statement, and lastly, your diversity statement. Each document should be tailored to the specific needs of the program you are applying to including the program’s mission statement, faculty research objective. The following discuss best p practices and standards across disciplines. Please check with your department or with your career center to ensure that you incorporate discipline-specific standards into these documents. 

The CV is the time to brag. This document catalogues your academic achievements, typically organized around three pillars of the academy: Research, Teaching and Service. It is an exhaustive list of your achievements, as opposed to a resume, which is more of a snapshot, tailored to demonstrate specific skill sets and accomplishments. CV’s are the credential asked for in academic job application processes, postdoctoral scholar application processes, and fellowship and grant applications. Because they demonstrate research expertise, they are also frequently asked for by research-intensive organizations. 

How it Should be formatted:  

  • CV include more white space to focus on accomplished as opposed to skill   
  • There is no page limit 
  • Typically, one inch margins, double spaced with 12 point font 
  • Evenly spaced and easy to read  
  • Always include the date you last updated your CV 
  • List in reverse chronological order in each section: research, teaching, funding, education, honors & awards 
  • Use the citation style of your discipline (e.g, APA, MLA)  
  • All publications and conference should be accurate and complete  
  • All publications and conference status should be clearly marked – under review, revised and resubmitted 
  • Use “in press’” to show that your publication has already been accepted by a journal 

The academic cover letter communicates narratively your scholarly fit with the position, organization and department. The cover letter should be no longer than 2 pages and should expand on your most relevant accomplishments and situate your work in the context outlined by the position. It should also outline your research agenda and future trajectory. All academic positions will require a cover letter and because the academic job market is so competitive, it has become common for search committees to ask just for a cover letter and CV. If this is the case you need to include paragraphs that provide information similar to teaching and research statements, (also mention (also mentioned on this site) highlighting what is not articuated on your CV. Some displines have rmat, so be sure to work with your department or career center to align your cover letter with disciplinary standards. Avoid overly verbose or overly humble language. 

How it should be formatted:  

  • Should be one page
  • In paragraph format  
  • Include the Program/School name, address, and contact information  
  • Three paragraphs:

First Paragraph (Purpose) 

  • State why you are writing and the position at the company you are applying for. Indicate how you learned of this position
  • If available, include the name of the referral 
  • Demonstrate briefly the knowledge of the university and provide a thesis statement that outlines unique qualifications for the job

Second Paragraph (Background and Qualifications)

  • Provide related experience or elaborate on details that would be of special interest to faculty 
  • Be precise and specific about your qualifications and skills 
  • Provide how you obtained you skills; with efforts to match the need of the department 
  • Explain how you would fit the into the position and the department. If its lengthy; break paragraph into two

Third Paragraph

  • Close your letter with confidence by briefly stating how you meet the job’s qualifications
  • Express your interest in further discussing your background and position 
  • Conclude with appreciation for employer’s considering the application

A teaching statement is common to include in applications for academic positions, including teaching positions in K-12, charter schools, and university settings. The Teaching Statement should be 1-2 pages and give a vivid snapshot of your teaching – leveraging first-person narratives.

When you write this document explain your:

(1) central approach

(2) articulate your impact,

(3) outline specific examples of strategies, assessments and evidence of outcomes. Your teaching statement can be part of a robust portfolio that includes (1) teaching experiences, (2) student evaluations, and (3) faculty evaluations.

Start with your Teaching Philosophy
Teaching statements are oftentimes called teaching philosophies, because they present an integrated vision of your teaching values and methods, which are motivated by your understanding of how students learn best and how your teaching methods facilitate learning effectively. You should be proactive in learning the best pedagogical practices, techniques and debates. There are also growing opportunities for training at the USC Center for Excellent in Teaching (CET). We encourage you to take advantage of TA experiences with the opportunity to teach standalone classes.
To enhance your teaching philosophy, it is good to be introspective on your teaching experiences. Reflect upon your teaching session by taking regular notes about your practices including things that went well or did not go well. These notes do not need to be shared but can help facilitate productive thinking about teaching methods and provide a record of examples that can be used when to develop your teaching statement. Here are things to consider before writing:

  • What are your goals for your students and yourself?
  • What was your best teaching experience? Your worst?
  • What is an example that demonstrates learning from a teaching mistake and improving upon it?
  • What are your overall strengths as a teacher? What are your weaknesses and what are steps you will consider improving upon them.?
  • What do you believe about how students learn best?
  • How do you impement your philosophies on teaching and learning the classroom? What strategies do you use?
  • How do you know the implemented strategies work? How do you assess student learning
  • How do your experiences relate to your teaching philosophy?