Australia seems an obvious move for a Brit. I’m certainly not alone in my desire to come here for academic work as I’ve been contacted by quite a few people now who’ve asked me how I did it. How did you get an academic job in Australia? The simple answer is that I applied, interviewed by Skype, and got the job. Here’s the longer version:
I started to build an international network or ‘presence’, mainly through social media, but also through events and other academic activities. Getting a Fellow position with the International Social Science Council definitely increased my employability in a more global job market. I remember it got some of the most positive responses – ooo’s and ahhh’s – when I talked about it in interviews.
Interviews…plural! I applied for quite a few jobs. All in all, I’d say it took me just short of a year to get a new post. I was happy enough in my lecturing job in the UK but I’d worked out that I needed to move for career development. After a couple of rejections (i.e. out at the application stage) for posts I wasn’t suited for, I narrowed my job search to those where I met all the essential criteria and posts that I would genuinely enjoy doing. Sometimes submitting an application might be worth a shot but I found that knockbacks had a negative impact on my motivation to keep up the job hunt. The dilemmas of ‘I should just stay here’ plagued me, particularly when new commitments to projects and students kept coming along.
The jobs I applied for weren’t just in Australia. I liked the idea of Australia so I applied for a number of posts here. I also applied for jobs in Singapore and in the UK too. All required a significant relocation though.
Over the months I improved in job interviews through practice. Some of the early fails served me well in my later successes. I actually really enjoyed the Skype interviews because there’s no stress of a long journey. My worst interview involved travelling in the early hours to London and by the time I got there I just wasn’t on point. I hadn’t slept for fear of missing the train, nor eaten as my interview was at 12pm – it lasted 3 hours by the way! That one was to work for the UK Government and not a university. It wasn’t a pleasant experience but it did confirm I wanted to remain in academia!
How did I come to work at Western Sydney University? Well I interviewed twice. The first job I didn’t get. The second job, my job, was one the interview chair directed me towards and encouraged me to submit an application. I very nearly didn’t due to the first rejection but then I had enjoyed the Skype interview and got a good sense that I would enjoy working at the University from the interview panel. The job role was similar to the previous one and after a bit of tinkering with my original application, I applied for the role. I’m now really glad that I did.
In terms of finding jobs to apply for, all sorts of email alerts were coming in:
- For Australia, all academic jobs usually find their way to Seek. There’s also UniJobs.
- The UKs Jobs.ac.uk posts academic vacancies across the globe.
- For jobs across Europe (especially) AcademicPositions.eu
- For global psychology academic positions, try Psychoneuroxy.
- For global social psychology academic positions, try the Social Psychology Network Job Forum.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Vitae has a job search function (typically for jobs in the US, although some are global)
- Google Alerts are also handy for picking up rare jobs or those that are unhelpfully posted on random websites.
LinkedIn has some pretty nifty job search features. Even though it’s a bit tricky to set up sometimes, its worth playing around with the job search settings on there if you are looking for a post in a particular place or with a particular organisation. I find LinkedIn more useful for research jobs outside of academia. It can also throw out some intriguing suggestions…anyone want to be a ’thought leader’ for a tech company in Eindhoven?
I also got into a habit of searching Twitter for academic posts too. Lots of academics on Twitter share vacancies and opportunities that you might not see otherwise. I’m sure there are lots of other places to find job vacancies. If you have any other suggestions, add a comment and I’ll add them to the list.
Another point to note is that sometimes job advertisements either don’t mention or don’t make it 100% clear that international applicants are welcome to apply. Send a quick email to find out.
What I’ve come to understand further, since working here, is that the internationalisation of the higher education sector is influencing a more global approach to hiring strategies. Bringing an academic from overseas brings their international networks too and thus increases the potential for international research collaborations. Hiring an overseas academic makes sense in terms of global rankings and all that jazz. I know, not great news if you are looking for an academic position within commuting distance.
Taking a job at a university that you’ve never visited, and in a country that you’ve never been to (in my case), is definitely a risk. One of the deciding factors for me was that the role enabled me to focus on digital research yet remain based in the social sciences alongside urban studies and human geography scholars. I could see all my research strands coming together at the University. It felt right and it’s worked out well.
My move was made easier with a relocation package and the help of the University’s relocation consultant. As far as I am aware, most universities in Australia offer a good relocation package to help with the costs of moving across the world. My relocations consultant was brilliant with everything from visa applications to shipping my wordly goods, organising airport transfers and temporary accommodation, and suggesting good places to live.
This post is very much based on my experience as an early career researcher. I’m sure it’s a whole different ball game for more experienced academics. I would certainly love to hear about how others made their international move.
I promised a blog post on this subject ages ago. Finally, here it is! Any thoughts, stick them on a postcard! Also good luck to those on the job hunt right now 🙂