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I know I made a decent number of posts, but this particular will actually be the last one I'm going to make for a while. For those who didn't see, I'm a fourth year Ph.D student in an Experimental Psychology Ph.D program (with an accepted Master's) who is slated to graduate sometime this academic year. I'm currently in the data collection phase of my dissertation and I have 1/4 of the overall minimum number of participants I need (48). I recently submitted an IRB application at a SLAC where I'm currently teaching (as a visiting full time instructor) to see if I can get a research assistant there and knock out data collection sometime in November.

I'm making this post since I've noticed I tend to spend a lot of time on post Ph.D jobs and worrying about not only translating my skillset over to them, but avoiding employment gaps as well (I took one this summer since I had severe mental health issues that led to safety concerns). I'm currently waiting on career services to get back to me but the appointment didn't go well in my opinion since I was just asked what I wanted to do (i.e., research assistant work but for one project at a time due to my cognitive functioning differences and poor self direction skills) and they will just give me job listings.

Which brings me to the question for this post. When should I be concerned about looking for jobs (especially given the current job market)? Second, when should I be concerned about a translatable skillset as well? For example, whether I need to get another degree or possible certification. As it stands, I have no shot at a postdoc since I have no publications and just one conference post COVID (4 year gap that was only closed this year) since my first Ph.D advisor only wanted me to focus on my qualifiers project at the expense of not starting other projects at all. I haven't started any new ones with my current advisor partially due to the aforementioned safety concerns and severe autistic burnout that affected my cognition + ability to do work this summer. I did agree on a plan to start projects with him this October though.

Side note: In case it's also important, I'm going through vocational rehabilitation right now since I recently learned my cognitive functioning is borderline. As far as how this affects my specific work, I realize that I can only focus on one project at a time before there's a noticeable dip in the quality of my work. Multiple projects and "wearing different hats" is the part of working in academia and industry that does not work well for me at all and has made my current job at the SLAC somewhat overwhelming. Since every research assistant job I've seen requires that multitasking, I'm trying to see if there's an alternative. I don't mind if this comes at the expense of not using my Ph.D, personally.

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For an academic job, I suggest you start about a year before you want to start, which probably means about now. For other jobs, several months may be enough. Look for job advertisements in professional journals, like those of professional societies/organizations in your field. Look at the web sites of academic departments you might want to join.

Like any job search, cast a wide net. If you are happy at a SLAC and aren't driven to research, spend time with that. Such jobs are probably less stressful in some ways than one at a research university.

But, don't wait until you are close to finishing or you face disappointment. Talk to faculty where you are to see what sort of support you can find. See what sorts of recommendations they might make. Your personal journey may actually give you insight into some types of things that might be useful in a teaching environment.

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  • Your answer was definitely quick but also insightful! I have noticed that professor job listings are posted a year ahead of time. They definitely aren't positions I want. I personally wouldn't mind another full time instructor (rather than professor) position though until I can figure out what suits my background via vocational rehabilitation services.
    – zzmondo1
    Sep 30, 2023 at 19:43
  • In the US at least, academic hiring has a regular annual rhythm, with postings in the fall, interviews in the early calendar year, and offers before summer to start the following fall. There are outliers of course...
    – Jon Custer
    Oct 2, 2023 at 16:20

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