Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Jobs in astronomy

You haven't seen much from me recently, as it is time for me to hunt for jobs. Many parts of applying for astronomy jobs are the same as applying for jobs in the "real" world. We put together our resumes, write cover letters, and scour specific magazines and web sites for job advertisements. Most people apply to a whole slew of openings, hoping to get a couple of nibbles.

But there are major differences, too. First, most job openings are announced in the fall for work starting the following summer or fall. This is driven by the academic calendar, as most jobs are affiliated with universities. This also means the hiring process is quite slow, as job hires have to go through several layers of bureaucracy.

Applications are read by a committee in the department. This committee pares down the list to a select few for interviews. Then the list has to be approved by a higher official, such as the college dean. After the dean gives the list approval, people on the list are invited for interviews and to give talks on their research to the entire department. After the interviews, the committee will rank the applicants, and the entire faculty of the department select their nominee. Once again the dean has to approve, and then the compensation package must be drawn up, usually by some other part of university bureaucracy. What fun! And it takes months to finish!

So, for now, I'm busy writing all those cover letters. We'll see how things turn out.

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