Professional Development for Graduate Students

Below you will find documents, infographics, website links, and video links providing information related to the academic job search and advanced graduate study. For all areas, we also advise students to consult with graduate professors in their field for specific advice and feedback on application materials.

Content Areas:

  • The Job Application Process
  • Job Postings
  • Transcript Requests
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Writing Resources
  • Cover Letter Writing
  • CV Writing
  • Teaching Philosophy Statements
  • Writing Abstracts
  • Interview Skill-building

The Job Application Process

The infographics linked below provide helpful overviews of the timelines generally involved in the academic job search process and applying for advanced graduate study.

  • The Academic Job Search
    • Academic job hunting can take upwards of a year. This timeline outlines the stages of the process and provides recommendations for when to complete each step.
  • Applying for Advanced Graduate Study
    • The steps for completing a successful PhD application can take several months of process. Review this timeline to learn more about organizing your process.
  • Populating an Application Spreadsheet (coming soon)
    • Learn how to develop an application spreadsheet to help you track and maintain information about application submissions for jobs and graduate school.

Job Postings

While these resources are useful, only about half of academic jobs are posted to job boards. If there’s a particular area or institution you’re interested in working for, it’s a good idea to look at the institutional website directly.

  • Reading Job Posts
    • Review this introductory presentation to learn about finding job posts, the rhetorical strategies of job posts, and how to use job posts to your advantage throughout the hiring process.
  • Annotated Job Post
    • This sample job post with annotations supplements the Reading Job Posts presentation.
  • Handshake (MTSU Career Center)
    • MTSU subscribes to this database which allows you to create a personal profile and view and apply for jobs and internships. You can also attend virtual professional development events and learn information about employers, communities, and career paths.
  • MLA Job Information List (JIL)
    • The JIL posts academic Liberal Arts jobs. It is free to access and requires no log in for searching.
  • Chronicle of Higher Education

    • This job board provides extensive services, including job alerts, news, advice, and a space to create a profile and upload/maintain a resume. It posts academic and administrative positions both in and outside of university settings.
  • Rhetmap
    • This interactive map allows you to see rhetoric and composition jobs in their geographic locations. It links directly to the postings. You can also follow their frequent updates on Twitter.
  • Inside Higher Ed
    • Similar to the Chronicle, this board posts tens of thousands of positions and provides alerts and document storage. It also sorts positions by type and employer.

 Transcript Requests

  • MTSU Transcript Request
    • Follow the instructions using this link in the event that a potential employer asks for official transcripts to be sent from MTSU. Unofficial transcripts can be copied from Pipeline.

Letters of Recommendation

Writing Resources

  • MTSU Writing Center
    • The Writing Center can help you brainstorm, construct, or edit any professional document you are preparing.
  • MTSU Career Center, Document Drop
    • Submit a Word document here for global and rhetorical feedback on your professional development documents.
  • RefWorks (via MTSU Library)
    • Archive research materials and get citation help using RefWorks. You can download an extension of this software to both MS Word and Google Docs to easily integrate source and citation material.

 Cover Letter Writing

  • MTSU Career Center, Cover Letter Writing Guide
    • The Career Center’s downloadable pdf provides the basic outline and parameters for any general professional cover letter. It’s a solid resource to start your letter development.
  • OWL Purdue, Academic Cover Letter Guide
    • OWL Purdue explains the difference between business and academic cover letters and provides rhetorical advice along with an outline and sample. Finally, they link to their Career Wiki, which, while based in Purdue University, still provides extensive and helpful information for any job seeker.
  • Inside Higher Ed, “Understanding Cover Letters"
    • Cheryl Ball, a leading compositionist, offers an excellent article, clearly describing the do’s and do not’s of academic cover letter writing, paragraph by paragraph.
  •, “How to Write a Cover Letter for Jobs in Academia”
    • Indeed provides both a video and written recommendations for collecting content for your academic cover letter. Unlike the other resources, this article is not an outline; rather, it provides preparation advice.

CV Writing

  • MTSU Career Center, CV Writing Guide
    • This incredibly practical downloadable document not only explains the differences and nuance between a CV and Resume, but it also provides step by step instructions to collect information, templates, and 3 models.
  • OWL Purdue, CV Writing
    • Purdue summarizes a CV template and contents and provides a list of other helpful resources.
  •, “Academic CV Guide”
    • With both an article and video, Indeed clearly explains the difference between resumes and CVs and gives insightful recommendations about category headings and making modifications for your audience.
  • Higher Ed Jobs, Resume/CV Advice
    • Higher Ed Jobs collected several CV advice articles and put them all in one place.

Teaching Philosophy Statements

Writing Abstracts

  • Writing Abstracts
    • The academic job market can require the submission of a variety of types of abstracts. Review this document to help distinguish the genres and find other helpful resources about writing abstracts.

Interview Skill-building

The academic interview process is varied, and you can expect several steps incorporating different interview types including phone, video, conference, campus, presentations, and follow-ups. Any of these interviews may take place with an individual or a panel made up of faculty, administrators, staff, and/or students. The purpose of this process is to ensure that a candidate fits a department and campus culture in teaching, scholarship, and engagement. The resources listed here offer general preparation recommendations and descriptions, but you are always advised to review questions and materials with a mentor and colleagues.

  • MTSU Career Center, Big Interview
    • Big Interview is an “online interviewing preparation platform that combines training and practice to help improve skills and build confidence.” After setting up a free account, you can use the software to participate in mock interviews, review a huge database of questions with answers and tips, and share your own interview answers for feedback.
  • Chronicle of Higher Education, “A Guide to Campus Interviews
    • Julie Vick and Jennifer Furlong, both career services directors, explain the different types of interviews an applicant may encounter and make some excellent, direct suggestions for preparation for the various stages. They also link to several additional, useful articles with more specific advice.
  • Tenure, She Wrote, “I Can Haz Job? Tips and Tricks for the Academic Interview
    • Although female focused, this blog post provides loads of practical advice for any gender about what to bring and wear for a campus interview. It also discusses preparing questions, sounding confident, observing toxic behavior, and what to do if you don’t get the job.
  • National Institute of Health, “Preparing for Academic Interviews
    • The Office of Intramural Training and Education provides this wonderfully succinct PDF that outlines key subjects to prepare, along with some very direct Do’s and Don’ts.

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