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Graduate Job Market Checklist

Job Market Checklist


during June:

  • Review the Job Market Handbook for an overview of the process
  • If you are sure you will be attending the the MLA convention, apply for a subvention from MLA
  • Will you have completed at least 3/4 of your dissertation by September?
  • Submit finished article-length pieces of work to journals

July and August

  • Begin discussing job market plans with your dissertation committee and with the Job Placement Officer
  • Begin drafting your basic application materials: cover letter, CV, and dissertation abstract
  • Seek out feedback from your committee chair on your application materials; note that some postdoc applications have late-summer deadlines

by September:

  • Join MLA and register for convention (you can cancel later for a nominal fee, so it's best to register now to secure the hotel you want)
  • Set up an Interfolio account
  • Set up a file at Career Services
  • Request a teaching letter for your file (which can be from your committee chair, who may wish to contact the JRS director or others who have observed your teaching
  • Subscribe to the Humanities job listserv at Career Services by sending an email to

September 1:

  • Email latest drafts of materials (CV, cover letter, dissertation abstract, teaching statement) to your advisors and the Placement Officer
  • Give your committee copies of any new dissertation work in preparation for letters of recommendation
  • Using a collaborative file-sharing system (e.g. a shared Dropbox folder) may be helpful in making sure your committee always has the latest versions of your job materials, dissertation chapter drafts, and a spreadsheet or list of jobs and postdocs you plan to apply for (with deadlines listed)


  • Meet individually with the Placement Officer to discuss materials and your search
  • The Job Information List (JIL) goes online. Make a list of jobs you will apply for, noting any unusual application requirements.
  • JIL is updated every Friday with new jobs, so make sure you check weekly, even into the spring semester, when jobs you may want to apply for still occasionally appear.

October 1:

  • Give latest, revised drafts of job materials to your recommenders along with Career Services recommendation form, as well as however much of the dissertation they would like to see. Ask them politely to get their letters in by the deadlines noted.

during October:

  • Select your writing sample(s) in consultation with your dissertation director; revise and excerpt where necessary

October 30:

  • Verify that your dossier is complete; nudge recommenders as appropriate; let Placement Officer know where things stand


  • Most application deadlines will fall in November, but more and more are inching into October
  • Finalize list of schools to which you will apply; share this list (including application deadlines) with committee and Placement Officer.
  • Keep working on the dissertation

In November:

  • Send out additional applications and any requested follow-up materials
  • Polish a second writing sample, or get more of dissertation into circulatable condition

early December:

  • Participate in Mock Interviews with Penn faculty
  • Inform Placement Officer and your advisors of all interview invitations
  • If you are not attending MLA (where applicable), request refunds no later than December 25

early January:

  • MLA convention. The Placement Officer will attend the convention (when it takes place in person) and will be available to meet with you or speak by phone as needed.


  • If you receive requests for campus visits, notify Placement Officer immediately
  • Practice your "job talk," either in a regular work-in-progress forum or in an informal gathering of fellow grad students


  • Campus visits can happen any time during the spring, so try to be patient; the job market can move very slowly
  • Make sure to keep your committee and the Placement Officer informed of any campus visits; confer with them before making the visit
  • Before accepting or declining any job offer, consult with your advisors and the Placement Officer