What to Do When

Job Market Timeline and Checklist

Keep in mind that you need to begin preparing for the job market at least a year before the MLA convention at which you hope to interview. This is the necessary lead time in order to have the real stuff for competition: publications, conference experience, strong letters, and near-complete dissertation, and well-honed application materials.

Fall semester pre-search year

  • Submit essay(s) to journal(s) for publication
  • Apply for a spring conference presentation, preferably in your teaching field
  • Join MLA 
  • Apply for paper presentation at MLA and other professional conferences
  • Have a faculty member observe your teaching with intent to write a letter for your file (Ideally, this should be a faculty member familiar with your research.  It does not have to be your dissertation advisor or one of your committee members.) 

Spring semester pre-search year

  • Consult with dissertation advisor about your plans to apply for jobs in the fall (Ideally, you should be in a position to defend your dissertation by the end of the summer.  If you will have more than one remaining chapter to write by the end of the summer you may want to defer going on the market for another year.)    
  • Attend spring placement meeting 

Summer Before Job Search 

  • Begin drafting your cover letter, CV, and dissertation abstract at the start of summer 
  • Gather together your teaching materials: syllabi, evaluations, peer evaluations, etc. 
  • Check in with journal(s) if you haven’t heard back about your submission(s)  
  • Open a recommendation file with Interfolio at www.interfolio.com 
  • Request recommendations from your letter writers sooner rather than later (You will need 3-5 letters of recommendation, ideally all from people who can write in detail about your research and at least one letter that can showcase your teaching. Try to make sure that your recommenders will have at least six weeks to write their letters. At time of request, give your recommenders your current cv and your dissertation abstract, along with a clear description of where you are in the process of writing and your future deadlines, including when you plan to defend.) 
  • By August 20, send a reminder to your recommenders, including a draft of your letter of application, another (updated) cv, and your Interfolio information (www.interfolio.com), with clear stipulation of when letters are due to your recommenders (no later than October 1, but best to specify September 15) 
  • Give your committee copies of any new dissertation work   
  •  Begin preparing a 20-25 page writing sample by the first of August  

Early September 

  • Attend the fall placement meeting 
  • Give latest drafts of application materials (CV, cover letter, dissertation abstract, teaching statement) to your dissertation supervisor and the Placement Officer for feedback 

Mid September

  • The Job Information List (JIL) goes online at www.mla.org (Make a list of jobs you will apply for, noting any unusual application requirements.) 
  • JIL is updated every Friday with new jobs, so make sure to check weekly, even into the spring, when jobs you may want to apply for still occasionally appear
  • Register for the MLA convention and book a room in a convention hotel (You can cancel your reservation through mid-December without penalty, but rooms go quickly so it’s best to book one on the assumption you’ll have interviews.) 
  • Check to make sure letters of recommendation have been submitted

Early to mid October 

  • Verify that your dossier is complete 
  • Begin sending out applications 


  • Continue sending out applications and, as requested, additional materials (Never send as a writing sample material that you intend to give as a job talk.
  • Send the list of your applications to your recommenders and the Placement Officer 
  • Sign up for Mock Interview 

Early December 

  • Participate in Mock Interviews 
  • Inform Placement Officer and your dissertation chair of all interview invitations 
  • Prepare for interview by viewing sample questions on web site
  • Start thinking about a job talk