I've split this question into a general question that I feel applies to many people and specific details for those who are interested.

General question:I have accepted a 2-year teaching/research position in my home state and would like to look for a job in the surrounding area at the end of the time.

My just-finished job search convinced me that having skills is not enough to get a job in mathematics; you have to show the universities that you are someone they want to hire.

Given two years to work with, what can I do to show local universities that I am someone they would like to hire?

My ideas so far include:

  • Attending and speaking at local seminars and conferences (for research-oriented schools)
  • Attending MAA meetings and giving talks on teaching (for teaching schools)
  • Working together with faculty at these universities on projects.

I'd especially like to hear from those who make hiring decisions on what would make them feel more comfortable hiring a candidate.

Non-essential, specific details My postdoc is at BYU in Utah, and the schools I am interested in are all the 4-year schools in the area. University of Utah is most likely out of my league. I'm interested in UVU, Dixie State, SUU, USU, U of U (though that's a longshot), Weber State, Westminster College, and staying on at BYU. I'm also interested in nearby schools such as Reno, Colorado State, Northern Arizona University, Colorado School of Mines, ASU and U of A, University of Colorado, etc.

I'm finishing a postdoc at Temple in Philadelphia. I've done reasonably well in research (4 publications in well-known area-specific journals). My teaching record is excellent, with very good letters of recommendation, high student ratings, and a record of being given good classes to teach.

I am genuinely more interested in teaching than research, but I enjoy research enough that I am happy doing it for a good position. I have a research topic in a small new area (finite subdivision rules) that provides an essentially inexhaustible amount of new theorems but may attract less interest as it is off the beaten path.

I have friends at many of these schools, including UVU, SUU, Utah State, and Dixie State.

3 Answers 3


My students (at a large well-ranked R1) are having trouble finding a job anywhere in the world, given the current problems with the academic job market: too many PhDs at a time when universities are reducing the number of t-t faculty.

By limiting your search to one particular geographic area, you greatly handicap your ability to find a job. You must understand that in some departments, they will not have a job in your particular niche come up but once in 20 years when someone retires or leaves. Even given that you are looking at half a dozen schools, the odds that a job in your area will come up next year is -- there are some mathematicians here that can give you the odds.

That being said, the best you can hope for is to do what you are doing:

  1. Research: Keep publishing as much as you can. Publish or perish.
  2. Service: If there is a local/state/regional/national association of scholars in your discipline, join it and become very active. Show that you are the type of person willing to put in grunt service time and will create community. Organize a symposium that brings people in the area together.
  3. Teaching: Come up with innovative courses that put you on the radar.

But you must also accept the very real possibility that your geographical limitation may very lead to no jobs or only adjunct positions in the coming years until the statistical anomaly of a job-in-your-research-area-in-your-geographical-area comes up.

  • 3
    At least at the moment, this is less insane in math than in many other disciplines. Math departments tend still be hiring somewhat regularly and to be a lot more flexible about research areas than most departments. You don't necessarily have to wait until someone in your niche leaves, though of course, you're right that success is far from guaranteed even if someone does everything right. Mar 28, 2015 at 22:45

For 4 year institutions without MA/PhD programs, one idea is to develop undergraduate research projects loosely related to your past research. Even better, I suppose, if you can relate such projects to local concerns, such as fair division of resources in Utah (that may not literally make sense, but maybe you can think of something similar that does).


Depends on the type of university. If it's teaching oriented college, teaching experience will be very important. Otherwise, it's your research career potential. In other words, how likely are you going to get tenured in 5 to 6 years should you be hired.

If you are at a top university and aim for a faculty position at another top university, your advisor's connections coupled with a strong recommendation is the single most important factor.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .