I am considering seeking my first PhD student through a job site (indeed, etc).

I am starting an assistant professorship,hope to attract a PhD student this fall, and lack the name recognition to have students banging on my door. I would, nonetheless, like to have a certain amount of choice.

Edit: I should clarify here that I am an Engineer, but also have training in the social sciences. As such, my students will necessarily be interdisciplinary.

I have seen postdocs advertised this way. Thoughts on doing it for a Ph.D. student? Tips from those that have done it?

I am also curious: if this idea bothers you, why? Practically, why is this not commonly done?

  • In my experience, it's better to recruit students from one's university or any universities in which you know the system/standard. Students coming from other institutions tend to be a mixed bag. Also, people on job sites have other motives; e.g., they can't find any other jobs.
    – VitaminE
    Dec 18 '21 at 22:33

Sorry, but that thought makes me a bit itchy. Maybe I'm just old.

Building up your reputation and visibility is a good thing, though. You might be able to do it with a university sponsored web site on which you have at least some control. Showcase your work and interests there. Publish links to papers if appropriate.

It is also a place to say that you are "accepting PhD candidates". If you have funding available be sure to say that as well as what topics you would be interested in supervising.

Another way to potentially find students is to attend conferences at which you are likely to find a good number of undergraduate (or MS level) instructors. Use the social contacts there to spread the word. You might possibly even get to meet a student or two. If you can get on the program, you also spread your reputation. These may be educational focused conferences, such as the SIGCSE conference of ACM in Computer Science. Most of the attendees there are educators and many are also supervising graduate students.

But, maybe you are just a bit bored. If you have the possibility (and are at a large enough place) you can associate yourself with working groups of other professors on topics of mutual interest. It may be that the group itself attracts potential students and you might benefit from that as well as the synergy of joint work.

I'm still thinking about your question and may add more as it occurs to me. I'd warn you, however, that with an advertisement you will likely draw a lot of responses that you will find entirely inappropriate and yet have to deal with. I'm thinking mostly of the ill-prepared who have little idea about what is required.

  • 1
    Related to the second-to-last paragraph, you can let faculty who work on similar topics know you are looking for students. You can ask these faculty to send inquiring students to you if their research groups are full.
    – Dawn
    Jul 26 '18 at 14:51
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    @Dawn, indeed. Good point.
    – Buffy
    Jul 26 '18 at 14:51
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    However, don't take on the "problem" students of a senior professor as another question here discussed recently. See: academia.stackexchange.com/q/114143/75368. It is a losing proposition all around.
    – Buffy
    Jul 26 '18 at 15:01
  • Thank you, Buffy. My own adviser opposes the idea, but is hard pressed to say why. He warns that job-seekers will make poor knowledge-seekers. I'm less sure... Jul 26 '18 at 16:03
  • @Industrademic, that sounds about right to me. Let his experience guide you here, even if he can't articulate why.
    – Buffy
    Jul 26 '18 at 16:22

I would not use a job board. Instead, I would use more targeted approaches. Here is the approach I would take (examples for from my own field, yours is likely different).

First, I would reach out to faculty and departments I know and ask them to pass the position announcement out to any students who might be interested.

Second, I would email your graduate student opportunity to professional societies' email lists. I have seen student position postings on email lists such as

Third, I would post on "job boards" that are specific to my field. I have seen this done regularly in the life sciences. Examples include

  • Texas A&M University's Job Board that posts "Wildlife and Fisheries" positions including graduate student positions (their use of Wildlife and Fisheries jobs broadly covers other types of ecological jobs).
  • The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry has a Career Center where assistantships can be advertised.

As noted by Buffy, have your own webpage updated so students can see what you're doing as the decide if they want to study with you.

  • Thank you, RIchard. I've looked at such options in my area (Engineering and Social Sciences). I suspect many intelligent individuals looking at these boards are also looking at job sites, correctly (in my estimation) hedging their bets. Jul 26 '18 at 16:05
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    I disagree that intelligent potential students would be browsing job boards. Check out the "Ask the Headhunter" Blog for some good reasons to avoid job boards. Jul 26 '18 at 21:35

People looking for opportunities on a job website are looking for pay typical of the jobs posted on that site, adjusted for experience level and location.

Only advertise a PhD position on a job site if you are willing to offer typical pay for that site, adjusted for experience level and location.

Advertising average PhD student pay on a site full of higher paying industry jobs just does not make sense to job seekers.

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