5 Tips to Finding an Academic Job Internationally

Finding an academic job internationally sometimes feels like an alien experience. From the lingo through to the grants system, few elements of the process will feel familiar. However, if you’re trying to find academic jobs online and secure a career abroad, there are some ways to gain an advantage over your competitors.

Understand how research funding works in your target country

Whether you’re still in the process of refining your research proposal or you know what you want to explore, it’s worth understanding how the funding system works in your target country. For example, in the UK and other European countries, you may find a large grant. Such grants depend on the research area’s need. However, whether you work in arts, humanities, or science, if your proposal fills a knowledge gap you’re quite likely to find a grant.

In contrast, in the U.S., such grants usually arise in areas such as science. Negotiating the world of arts and humanities becomes a little more challenging, primarily due to the lack of public funding behind higher education. As such, if you want to secure such funds, prepare to justify the necessity of your topic.

Gain a background knowledge of how academia works in each country

While there was once a time when permanent tenure contracts were plentiful in the UK, today the job market is more impermanent. Many academics take on indefinite contracts, which means there’s a lack of job security. As such, being able to demonstrate whether you’ll feel comfortable with this and how you’ll manage periods where your tenure is unstable is essential.

Similarly, the German system is moving more towards an unstable market, unless you work as a professor. Naturally, this means you’ll have to seek a student visa that lasts for the fixed period of your contract in such countries. When applying for positions, it’s better to find proof that you can secure such visas prior to moving forward. Otherwise, the institution you approach will likely give preference to the person who can demonstrate their ability to get one.

Try to get to grips with the lingo

Whether you’re writing your CV, producing a cover letter, or attending an interview, not understanding the lingo can make finding academic jobs a challenge. It’s worth reminding at this stage that failing to understand the lingo extends to more than just making a faux pas. Without the right knowledge, you could submit documents incorrectly or make a major bureaucratic mistake.

For example, universities in the UK may produce a ‘person specification.’ As the name suggests, this document lists attributes and skills you’ll need to find success. It’s advisable to write a covering letter that alludes to the specifications. In contrast, U.S. institutions could produce a similar document under a different name, but the assessment team won’t turn their noses up at a more general cover letter.

Mastering the lingo doesn’t just make life simpler for you. It gives your prospective employer the confidence that you can negotiate your way through their country’s academic system.

Find a city and an academic institution you feel passionate about

With that in mind, it’s difficult to push yourself to master the lingo, fight for a grant, and operate in an alien higher education environment when you don’t have the right amount of passion. Although the temptation to opt for any available university is there, resist doing so unless you know you can complete your research in such an environment.

While not every city or academic institution will tick all of your boxes, if it’s far from conducive to the way you want to live, keep searching until you find somewhere that is. Not only is your lack of passion likely to arise in your application, it’ll become very evident at the interview stage. Further down the line, you may find that it affects your ability to work.

Use your networking resources carefully

Finally, as an academic, networking is a natural part of your repertoire. Depending on which stage of your career you’re at, you may want to consider networking more. For example, you can try:

  • Attending relevant conferences
  • Asking those more senior than you if you can attend seminars with them
  • Creating a business card to give to others at events
  • Networking electronically, using sites such as LinkedIn

Broadening your network is important for several reasons. As far as trying to find academic jobs online goes, it means you have the chance to reach out to your connections for advice and referrals. Similarly, when you try to find academic jobs, you may hear about opportunities before they reach the advertising stage.

Not everyone finds networking easy, and that’s okay. It’s a good idea to accept that not everyone will want to network with you, but by making an effort you give yourself an advantage over those who don’t try. Remember, the connections you make in your home country could have connections abroad too.