Going on the Graduate Job Market
For PhD candidates, the most obvious way to look for a job is through the AEA meetings in January; see Time Line for the AEA Market
for details about how it works. The AEA market is highly organized,
which makes it relatively easy to use. On the other hand, it reaches a
fairly narrow selection of employers. If you're a masters candidate, or
a PhD candidate looking for a nonacademic job, you'll want to broaden
your search. You can do that by using the placement services, web sites
and other tools below. It will take more work and creativity, but
you'll reach a broader selection of employers.
With that said,
here are some tips on conducting an effective job search. Not all of
these tips will necessarily apply to you; some depend on whether you
are going on the market with a masters degree or are a doctoral
candidate, and others depend on whether you are looking for an academic
or nonacademic job.
- Talk to your supervisor.
If you're a doctoral candidate, this is the first step to take in
preparing to go on the market. It's crucial that you and your
supervisor both agree that you're ready. Also, your supervisor will be
able to help you figure out what part of the market is most appropriate
- Prepare your paper. If you're
looking for a PhD-level job, potential employers will expect you to
submit at least one paper. Work with your supervisor and committee
members to make sure that you have a first-rate paper to send out. It
should be ready to send out by October 1st if you plan on participating
in the interviewing process at the AEA meetings. If you have more than
one finished paper, that's great and you should probably send out
copies of each one.
- Choose your references.
You'll generally need to list at least three people as references on
your CV or resume. On the PhD market, or if you are a masters student
but plan to interview at the AEA meetings, you'll need to have these
folks write formal letters of reference. Decide who would be best able
to write a strong letter on your behalf and approach them fairly early. Aim to get the letters by
October 1st. On the masters market, you'll still need to list
references but if you're not interviewing at the meetings you might not
need actual letters: potential employers often call your references
- Update your CV or resume. Be sure
to post a copy of it on your web page so that potential employers can
find it easily. If you don't have a web page, create one. If you're on the PhD market, give a copy of your CV to Laura in the department office.
- Talk to the placement director.
Be sure to talk to the department's placement director as
soon as you decide you're ready to go on the market. Do this whether
you are on the masters or PhD market.
- Browse through JOE.
Job Openings for Economists is a list of job advertisements published
ten times a year by the American Economic Association and is available
online. Virtually all academic jobs are advertised in JOE, as well as
many nonacademic jobs. It tends to be oriented toward PhD-level jobs
but there are also listings for jobs at the masters level. No matter
what kind of job you want, JOE is a quick way to get an overview of the
- Browse through the employer listings. If you're not looking for an academic job but aren't really sure what else is out there, try browsing through a page of employer and career listings. It contains links to a small fraction of the firms and
organizations that hire economists, but it will give you a better idea
about the spectrum of potential employers.
- Check out placement websites. There are lots of web sites devoted to the job market. Those sites are probably most useful for people on
the masters market. One thing to keep in mind is that the listings tend
to describe the skills needed for each job and don't necessarily
specify that a particular degree is required. You won't find much if
you search for "economist" or "economics masters" but you'll find many,
many more under "economics", "statistics" or "finance".
- Consider using Career Services.
If you're interested in a private sector job, especially if you are
coming out with an MA or MS, consider signing up with Liberal Arts
- Read up on potential employers.
If you apply for a private sector job, be sure not to forget to read up
on the company before your interview. Figure out what its main industry
is, who its competitors are, and whether it has had any big successes
or failures lately. You don't have to become an expert over night but
you don't want to arrive at an interview with only a foggy idea what
the company does.
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Peter J Wilcoxen, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University