The Academic Job Search: Wisdom from Steven Chaffee

Steve Chaffee had a long and illustrious career as a communication scholar and mentor. This is a handout he gave to doctoral students at Stanford University.


Academic Job Search

I. What a hiring faculty is looking for

  1. Teaching help in specific courses
    • Specialized courses: e.g. kids, polcom, health, methods
    • Hard-to-fill slots: e.g. intro, adv/PR, skills, beast
  2. Completed Ph.D. (never look back)
  3. Good prospects for tenure (likely to stay)
    • convention papers & publications already
    • research program ahead
    • energy, enthusiasm
    • writing skill, facility
  4. Lecturing skill:
    • smooth and understandable
    • organized and interesting
    • compatible with audience (faculty 6r students)
  5. Research:
    • new and different, theoretically
    • methodologically sound
    • related to department’s concerns & mission
    • add to dept’s knowledge base
    • possible collaboration with other faculty
  6. Nice person: “The Stanford Suspicion”
    • good colleague, friend
    • lunch, dept meetings, being around to help
    • everybody votes

II. What you need to present

  1. Interest in teaching
    • courses you want to teach
    • courses you’re willing to teach too
  2. Teaching: ability
    • Experience as TA, recs, student evals, awards
    • Guest lecture/colloquium during interview
    • Range: teach undergrads, Ph.D.s, M.A.s, whatever
  3. Research: Your program and evidence of momentum
    • Guest lecture on your current or recent study
    • Dissertation & recs
    • Prior coursework, area exams, committee members (recs)
    • Papers & publications, work in progress
    • Statement of plans for coming studies

III. The Communication field

  • little unemployment
  • a small town
  • know who they are, what they do & care about