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5: The Job Market

In preparation for the job market we prepare our PhD students in terms of writing and presentation skills as well as interview practice, with the timeline of preparation starting at least 12 months in advance of the job market. In year three, students are required to attend the job market talks of external candidates, which take place in the department and to attend an academic writing course delivered in the department. The job market paper is expected to be ready at the beginning of year four in preparation for launch in the autumn of the same year.

But whether you decide to enter the academic job market or you opt for employment outside academia, we have a range of support in place to help you find the right opening. We work closely with the Economics Careers Advisor to arrange events which bring you into contact with potential employers in a range of fields or Economics alumni who have made the transition into work outside academia. For those seeking an academic career our support programme is detailed and aims to help you achieve the best placement possible for you.

Support to develop your presentation skills

The employment route to obtaining an academic position is rather specialised, with most recruitment now taking place via the ASSA annual job market meeting, held in January each year in the United States or the EEA meeting, held in December each year in Europe. PhD students seeking an academic career are encouraged to go on the job market in the autumn and winter of the fourth year. Even if you are seeking employment outside academia, you may still want to attend the job market meeting as some large tech companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Uber also recruit there. We expect you to be ready to submit your thesis at this stage and to have a polished job market paper, which is the first requirement for a successful job market candidate. In addition to a job market paper, successful candidates usually have additional work that is sufficiently polished to be posted online and discussed with potential employers. To support you in this process, we offer training in Academic Writing and the ongoing help of a professional copy editor.

The next most important thing is your presentation. It takes time to learn to be a good presenter - so start early. Students are encouraged to present their paper from year two onward in the twice yearly Job Market Presentations event. This event is led by the Job Market Placement Officer, who will offer you lots of valuable advice on improving your presentation. Presentations can be recorded so that you have a record of the event and how you can improve.

The following sources of help are also available:

  • English Language Skills: The Centre for Applied Linguistics (CAL) offers in-sessional English language programmes in speaking and listening; pronunciation and writing.
  • A three-day Academic Presentations workshop offered by the Careers and Skills Office in the autumn term. (Strongly recommended for all research students).
  • The Careers and Skills Office’s Research Student Skills Programme offers a variety of other courses and workshops as well, e.g. “Academic Writing”, “How to Be an Effective Researcher”, “Working with your Supervisor”.

Students are expected to discuss job market prospects with their supervisors in the spring of third year, with the decision regarding job market participation to be confirmed to the Placement Officer by the supervisor, in the autumn of the fourth year.

Orient yourself on the job market early. It is a good idea to read the following guides at least a year beforehand:

European job market

The European Economic Association also organises a job market; the 2021 event, will take place 15 -18 December in Barcelona, Spain. Students who wish to participate in the European Job Market must submit a paper, and not all papers can be accommodated. This is an excellent opportunity to obtain exposure for your work, and submission is highly recommended.

Positions are also periodically advertised through the Jobs.ac.uk web pages.

US job market

You will be expected to attend the annual meeting of the American Economic Association (AEA). The AEA holds its meeting jointly with the North American Econometric Association and many other social-science organisations, which are known as the Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA). These meetings, which take place in the first week in January (check the AEA web page for exact dates), are not just for candidates who want a job in the US. In fact, most of the better universities, non-profit organisations, consulting agencies and government research departments from around the world recruit at the ASSA meetings. Furthermore, in addition to being a job market, the ASSA meetings offer you an opportunity to attend talks given by many well-known economists and to meet other students who are in a similar situation. Although many UK universities recruit at the ASSA meetings, the UK job market is less formally organised and it is sometimes possible to obtain interviews well after the US market has cleared. The Department will require you to attend in your final year, subject to producing a satisfactory paper, presentation and CV and where necessary will provide you with financial support .

There is much less of a season for non-academic jobs, but advertisements typically appear in the spring. Job openings are advertised in the Economist, the Guardian, and the THES (Times Higher Education Supplement). There are many web pages that list job openings. These include:

It is a good idea to check these sites on a regular basis. No matter how you plan to search, you should first check with your advisors to make sure that they agree that you are ready to test the water. By this time you should also have asked three faculty members who are familiar with your work if they would be willing to write letters of reference for you. Since those letters are confidential, you must supply your referees with the names of all of the places where you plan to apply. Several weeks after you have done this, you might check to see if your letters have been received and (tactfully) remind your referees if they have not. You should ask your referees to send a PDF or Word file with their letters to Natalie Deven (Postgraduate Coordinator-Research).

Timescales and Other Essentials

For both the US and the European job market, your job market paper should be ready for September of your fourth year. For the US, you will need to make travel and accommodation arrangements by mid-September (the department will meet these costs up to a limit of £1200). Having previously decided on your chosen referees, the final version of your job market paper should be sent to to your referees by mid October. At the same time you will be asked to upload the abstract of your job market paper and a copy of your polished CV to the departmental web page and attend an individual meeting with the placement committee.

The schedule for the European Job Market is very similar to that for the US: jobs are posted on the platform and candidates submit their packages (job market paper and references) late October/ early November. Screening then takes place and successful candidates are invited to interview. Flyouts follow for successful candidates to deliver seminars and meet local faculty, before offers are made.

Mock interviews will be arranged with members of faculty in early December to prepare you for the January meeting. This is a valuable experience, since it gives you an idea of what to expect in a real interview. You should have prepared a speech of not more than fifteen minutes that describes your research. However, be prepared to respond to questions before you finish your presentation and to change that presentation if your interviewers seem to be interested in questions that you did not anticipate.

You should ensure you present your paper in one of the Work In Progress meetings, which regularly take place in the department. There is a WIP meeting in each of the main research areas in the department. Be sure to get in touch with the organiser of that workshop at the beginning of the first term to ensure you schedule a presentation in term one. It is useful for your presentation to occur before you have any interviews or job talks.

If you want to obtain interviews, it is important to have a telephone number where you can be reached. This can be either a mobile phone that you always carry or a telephone that is capable of recording messages.

Other departmental support

The Department also maintains a web page for job-market candidates. It is important that you participate in this process if going to an academic job market, since the web page is the principal vehicle that the Department uses to promote its candidates. If your name does not appear, people who are searching for recruits will have no way of knowing that you are on the market. Your web page should include your CV, abstracts of all of your dissertation papers, and at least one completed paper — your job-market paper. For further information please contact Professor James Fenske, Job Market Placement Officer (2021-22) or Natalie Deven.