I often see outreach listed in the CVs of professors, which makes me believe that doing outreach is beneficial to advancing a professors career. What I'm wondering though is if this is only import for going from assistant professor to associate professor or if outreach can also be beneficial to securing a tenure-track professor position. I find this is especially important to know since most universities limit the page numbers of a CV submitted during the application process, so I'm not sure if an outreach section is beneficial or detrimental (since it would mean removing another part of the CV).

What is the overall thought across different fields (I'm in Physics but curious if the same thoughts are held in Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science, etc.) on the importance of outreach when applying for tenure-track professor position?

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    What do you mean by "outreach" exactly? The way the tag defines it or something else? – Buffy Nov 6 '20 at 19:37
  • Note that I just added some things to outreach. – Buffy Nov 6 '20 at 19:44
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    At what kind of university? What is the department hiring for? – Alexander Woo Nov 6 '20 at 20:42
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    Hey @Buffy, I mean outreach with the general public (and typically kids/teens). For my field in particular it is all about trying to spark interest in Physics with young kids/teens. – Cavenfish Nov 6 '20 at 22:48
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    This seems difficult to answer when we don’t know what you will be taking out of your CV to include the outreach section. There are things that are more important than outreach, and there are other things that are less important. Also different places would care about different things. So I would hate to speculate about what I think is the “correct” order of importance and potentially mislead you into thinking that’s some kind of objective truth. – Dan Romik Nov 7 '20 at 0:09

Pertinent to academia, I think of outreach as activities that bring academic subject matter and/or expertise to a community audience, often an audience that is under-served. Activities might include lectures or presentations to community audiences presented in laymen’s terms about subjects that are esoteric but interesting; interacting with elementary students to make a topic (like programming) more understandable or to engage them in the scientific process; mentoring high school students doing a science fair project. There are others.

The degree to which describing involvement in outreach might help an application for a tenure-track position may depend on factors specific to the institution and its values; the teaching responsibilities of the assistant professor position; and the degree of prior involvement in outreach. For example, a university that has a stated commitment to the community in which it resides might place high value on prior involvement in outreach because outreach aligns with the values of the institution. If the specific department has an outreach program (e.g., it holds regular coding camps or has a formal affiliation with an elementary school) prior involvement in outreach might strengthen the application because it demonstrates experience relevant to the department. Outreach that has involved interactions with students at any level may be more important when the Assistant Professor position will involve teaching undergraduates because it provides some evidence of prior experience in teaching/interacting (hopefully) positively with young people. But the outreach should be clearly and unambiguously meaningful. “I spent 1 week as a counselor at a math camp” probably doesn’t help and may hurt.

Finally, in a space-constrained CV, description of outreach should not displace documentation of specific requirements of the position (e.g., education, research experience, involvement in professional societies, publications/presentations.)

The goal of the CV should be to “market” yourself for the position. If you’ve documented what needs to be documented and documenting outreach might help your application, include it.

  • Outreach is not the same as teaching experience. – Anonymous Physicist Nov 7 '20 at 9:31
  • "space-constrained CV" Tenure track positions do not have a CV length limit. – Anonymous Physicist Nov 7 '20 at 9:32
  • @Anonymous Physicist Yes, I was surprised that the OP indicated that there was a page limit on the CV as I have not encountered this. Your answer clarifies that this is not something to expect at most universities. – Diana Petitti Nov 7 '20 at 15:52

At most universities, outreach is not part of the formal hiring criteria. Even when it is part of the criteria, it is not one of the important criteria.

However, you might be asked during a job interview, "How do you engage with the community?" or "How will you participate in recruiting students?" You should have outreach experience you can use as an example to answer that question.

Scientists should do outreach because it benefits the public. Do not expect a reward.

most universities limit the page numbers of a CV submitted during the application process

This is not true for tenure track positions.


Your application should present the clearest possible brief picture of who you are and why you are a fit for the job you seek.

Some schools will value a professor's interest in connecting to a larger community than their professional specialty, both for new hires and for promotion. I suspect few would think it negative.

Your question suggests that outreach is a part of how you see yourself professionally, so you should look for jobs where that is welcome, even expected.

A line or two in your cv and perhaps a paragraph in your cover letter won't use up a lot of real estate.

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