The following application materials are, for the most part, necessary for applications in both academia and industry. The earlier you get these ready, the better. It's not helpful to be worrying about compiling these things in November or December when you should be concentrating on the search and applications rather than the preparation. And I guarantee you will have problems compiling at least once (ugh)!
I also strongly advise students to create a website (do not use flash as some people might have trouble accessing those plugins). Simple HTML will suffice, while others have used these free website templates or Wordpress (e.g., example). Use this website to provide all the basic information in your application (CV, research and teaching statement, publication list, etc.) and any additional materials that an employer might find useful, such as papers and articles. Remember to keep it professional. I also like to use google analytics to track the location of people who have viewed my website. It's fun to see and can give you an idea of who might be interested.
Lastly, create a LinkedIn account and add important information to your profile. Start building up your connections and groups early on. Even if you hate LinkedIn, the whole working force uses it now (at least as of 2012) so do it! You might even find some jobs through the website.
This is the backbone of your application and you should put your best foot forward for this. In general, a resume is a shorter version of a CV, usually no longer than two pages. The CV is where you type out everything you've done, which often is many pages in length. Use Google to find a good CV template/format. It's even better if you use . For a CV the general (but not mandatory) inclusions are
- research experience
- teaching experience
- other employment
- skills (professional/computational/general)
- publication list
- presentation list
- department/professional service
- awards, grants
- organization membership (AMS/SIAM/etc.)
- list of references, citizenship
- statement of purpose/ research statement (Not necessary, but it seems to be relatively common for industry position applicants)
Each job description will be different and so it's a good idea to have several versions of a CV and several versions of a resume ready for different types of jobs/positions:
a no holds barred academic research CV -- everything you've done with research activities prioritized at the top
a no holds barred academic teaching CV -- everything you've done with teaching activities prioritized at the top
a generic industry resume -- education, employment (teaching+research), skills, service, references (this should be shorter too, <= 2 pages)
an industry research resume -- research experience, other employment, education, skills, references (this should be shorter too, <= 2 pages)
an industry teaching resume -- teaching experience, other employment, education, references
Although you will have a 1-4 primary forms of a resume. CV, it is a good idea (if you have time) to tailor the resume to the job. This is much more important for industry positions. If the job descriptions wants someone who does optimization, and you've studied it, make sure to put it in the resume/ CV. If the position wants computer skills, maybe move that to the first page of your resume. In general, the tailored resumes should not have to completely re-written, but slightly altered with some of the sections shuffled around.
Here are some possible templates to consider for your resume and/or CV:
You should get your CV out of the way as early as possible. In fact, it is good practice to always keep an updated CV and/or resume at hand. So before the fall semester even begins, you should have at least some form of a cv or resume. You will have to tailor this document to different jobs so it's good to have a baseline early on.
If you have a CV, this is easy: just copy+paste the publication list from there into a separate document. Yes, people will ask for this as a separate document. Publications that are in preparation, submitted, or accepted/to appear are fine to list. However, the jury is not quite in on in preparation. A good rule of thumb is that if you cannot provide at least a draft of the paper, you should not place it in your CV or resume. You can also place Technical Reports and Conference Proceedings as well. This is perfectly okay, but you might want to list this under a different category than journal articles (see the cv template in #4 above).
References are different from letters of recommendation. This is a list of people whom you want employers to contact via mail/email/phone if they want insight into you as a potential employee. Your letter-writers can serve as references that you list on your CV/resume, but make sure to ask them first. Often a `list of references' is requested as part of industry applications; make a list of names, emails, mailing addresses, and phone numbers of your references on a separate page. You should do this as early as possible: as early as September through November at the latest, of the year you are going to graduate. Note that this is just a list of people, and not the actual recommendation letters.
This is perhaps the most daunting document to compose during the application process. It is always requested for academic job postings. The research statement is supposed to
- communicate what you've been doing for the past X years
- convince the reader why what you've been doing is important and why it's better than the other 50,000 methods out there
- outline your research and how it fits into the `big picture'
- give a brief but clear and well-formulated plan for future developments and/or projects (this part can be discussed with your advisor)
References are optional in the statement. It is supposed to be a long document (more than one or two pages), but short enough that someone can read it in a few minutes (less than 4 or 5 pages). You should include equations only if they elucidate the point you want to make. Remember that this document will be read by all sorts of people: people who aren't necessarily experts in your field don't want to be confounded with lots of equations, and people who developed the underlying theory of your entire work want to see if you understand the material well enough to present it succinctly without obfuscating the ideas with math. Sometimes it is useful to have a short version (<=2-3 pages) and a long version (<=4-5 pages). Some positions require a short research statement.
In this document you are selling your mathematical ability, your foresight into future work that will make an impact, and your fluency in terms of presentation style. Talk to your advisor about helping you to look over your teaching statement and provide insight to future work. Try to get this done before mid November at the latest. The earlier the better because you can get constructive criticism and modify your statement appropriately.
Below is a template you can use, if you so desire.
The teaching statement is frequently (but not always) requested for academic jobs, and is also a major component of teaching-based industry positions. The teaching statement should
- Outline your general philosophy towards teaching
- Present examples of how your experiences have influenced your philosophy
- Present examples of you implementing your philosophy in practice
- Reflect your teaching goals for the future
It can be difficult to compose this document if you have limited teaching experience. In that case focus on your general philosophy and goals for the future.
I highly recommend students try to teach a course during your tenure as a graduate student. It is a great experience and makes writing your teaching statement a lot more sincere. Below is a sample teaching statement you can use.
Letters of Recommendation
Start thinking about this early. If possible, make faculty requests before the end of summer, or at the very beginning of the semester. Everyone's busy, so it's good to be nice and give your letter-writers at least a month of time. I was lucky enough to request for recommendation in early November, but you should ask early just to be safe. Possible sources for letters of recommendation:
- thesis advisor
- research collaborator/co-author paper
- instructor for course(s) you've taken
- instructor for course you TA'd
- supervisors for former employment
- any other established professional with whom you've had professional contact during your tenure as a graduate student
Get as many letters as possible; the more the merrier. Many applications require four letters, "at least one of which should address the candidate's teaching ability". You will want to mix and match letters depending on the job description or application materials summary. The letters should be confidential (that is, you should not have access to them).
Recommendations can be requested in either of two general ways. First, I will assume you are using MathJobs to apply for postdoc positions. In order to request letters of recommendation via MathJobs, the following steps should be completed in relatively sequential order:
Create an account on http://www.mathjobs.org/jobs.
- Email your letter-writers a courtesy message asking them if they are willing to write a letter on your behalf.
Once a letter-writer has acceded to you need to enter the letter-writer's information into MathJobs, which will send that person an email (sometimes the email will go straight to the Professor's administrative assistant).
- Reply to the letter-writer, instructing them to
Use the steps outlined in the email they should have received from MathJobs to upload their recommendation electronically to the MathJobs database.
- Send either an electronic or paper copy to the DAM administrative assistant.
The reference writers will usually know to write a generic recommendation letter, but sometimes they might request or you might want them to write a personalized letter. In that case, you can request a personalized letter on your end via MathJobs. Secondly, you might apply for a fellowship or position outside of MathJobs. In a lot of cases, their submission process will in fact send an email to your references directly asking for a submission (I know this is true for the Goldstine Fellowship at IBM Research). Yet another possibility is that you will need to contact your references yourself and ask them to send a recommendation letter to a supplied email address or postal address (e.g., NSA).
Remember that advisors know, during this time, you will send a lot of requests for recommendations. So don't feel like your a burden, but make sure to request the letters early enough so that your references don't seem rushed.
Cover Letter Template
You'll be writing a cover letter for just about every application you send out. Therefore, it's good to have a template ready to send out. Depending on your employment possibilities, you might want to have several templates. Included below are template files for a cover letter. There is no particular required format for a cover letter and you are encouraged to personalize whatever format you use. Keep it to one page. Employers already have enough to read! Because you are going to customize your template, you will probably have 4-5 basic templates (e.g., one for industry, one for teaching, one for research, one for postdocs, etc.). You will have to mix and match, but make sure to proofread your cover letter. Check to make sure you have the right address, addressee (e.g., Dear so and so), right name of the position, right name of the school, etc. I had about 30+ different cover letters, all based on about 5-6 standard cover letters. The inevitable grammatical mistake will arise, but don't sweat it. On most job posting sites, including mathjobs, you can update your application materials post submission.
Many academic job postings take your research and teaching statements as writing samples. Some academic postings want one or two publications or preprints. Some industry positions want `writing samples' that reflect your ability to communicate scientific topics to the non-scientific community. In preparation for this, you should excerpt a two-page, five-page, and ten-page writing sample from a publication or unpublished report you've written. This sample should highlight your English compositional ability in a scientific document rather than your mathematical ability. You will likely use these samples only rarely, if at all, but it helps to have them prepared.
Some employers will require some additional documentation. This might include the following.
- Thesis Abstract
The Thesis Abstract should be a short summary of your research (probably <=200 - 300 words). Making a list of your coursework and having an unofficial transcript ready is easy enough to do while writing your CV or resume. At Brown, if you need an official transcript, you can request it online and it will cost ~$6 and you need to email a signed consent form. If you need the official version, make sure to do this in advance.