Return to academia
What are the stages when looking for a tenure track position in Israeli academia?
First, you should contact the Search Committee. If there is no official committee, contact the Dean/Head of Institute /Department Head at each University you are interested in. Note that in some Israeli universities, Departments might be autonomous and will screen applicants quite independently. In such cases, be sure to contact each Department that might be relevant for you – don't assume they will share your application between them (usually they won't).
Inquire regarding the procedure for applying for a faculty position. Most universities expect an application to contain a CV, a Cover Letter (where you come from, your expertise, how your research plans are relevant for this particular Department) and a Statement of Research Interests (past and future research).
Hopefully you will be chosen as a top candidate and will be invited to give a talk. Try to set a date to give a lecture suitable for both you and the University. Avoid holidays and Jewish festivals when few people are present. Take into account that during November-January many other candidates might be coming as well, and seminar dates might be booked in advance. Unfortunately, you will most probably have to pay the expenses of your trip to Israel. During your visit, be nice to everyone and give the talk of your life. Try to give the impression that you have an exciting niche of your own and that you have mastered it - emphasize your uniqueness. You may be asked many questions during your talk and during the subsequent lunch and meetings. Some places might ask you to prepare an additional "Chalk Talk” – a second seminar where you talk (often without slides) about your future research and plans (think of "what aims will be in my first and second grants”). Even if you're not asked to prepare a Chalk Talk, such questions will likely come up in individual meetings.
If you are "hot" they might indicate right away that you are astrongcandidate. You might receive a formal offer 2-3 weeks after your visit, or it may take months.
What should my application include?
A CV with a list of publications (2-3 pages). If they ask for this, include the impact factor of each journal. List peer-reviewed publications and reviews/chapters separately. Do not include papers in preparation or submitted, only those in press or published.
A Cover Letter (1-2 pages): where you come from, what is your expertise, and how your research connects to this particular Department/Institute.
A Statement of Research Interests (usually 3-4 pages): what you have accomplished, your plans for future research (think of your first and second future grants), and where you see yourself in 5 years.
Are the cover letter and Research Statement important in Israel and what should they include?
Yes they are. Even though Israel is a small country and you may know the people reviewing your file, this is your opportunity to open your heart and tell the story of why you chose this field for your PhD and post-doc, why you like it, why you believe in it, what your strengths are, what you see yourself as a leader in, where you come from, what you have done, what your plans are for the future, what your expertise is in, and where you see yourself in 5 years.This is also your chance to explain how you differ from your mentors, and why you feel you are unique.
When should I expect an answer regarding a schedule for my job talk?
Between 2 days and 3 months (true story). Remember that you have only yourself to think of, and the committee has many candidates to deal with. So do not be shy in asking for updates, but be polite and patient. If you find yourself with one invitation, ask the other institutions that you are interested in if they can accommodate you at the same time.
In what parts of the proposal I receive is there room for negotiation (salary, start-up money, no. of financed students etc.)?
You can negotiate for start-up money. If there is some equipment that your lab cannot function without - make this very clear. You may be able to negotiate on the number of financed students, but there is usually a limit. This really depends on department, faculty and/or University. The salary is non-negotiable, but the status in which you begin may be different (Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor, though most common is a Senior Lecturer - if you are just finishing your post-doc).
Be yourself. There is not way around it. In Israel there is always someone that knows you. You will find your sister'sneighboron your committee and your PhD advisor as your new Department head. If you were successful during your PhD and truly believe in your post-doc research, there is no reason why the evaluating committee will not believe in you, too. Often it simply comes down to the competition, as there are only so many positions available per year. But the bottom line is – if you believe you are truly capable of being a successful academic faculty member – then others will believe so as well.
How do I make the decision where to go, if I have several choices?
When making a decision, talk to as many people as possible about the place you are considering going to. Talk both to older faculty, but also to people that arrived recently. Most people stay where they got their first tenure-track position, so be sure this is where you want to spend your life. Be fair and honest in your negotiations with all prospective employers. Israel is a small country, and any of your actions or words will follow you for years to come. Be realistic about your expectations. Try to know as much as possible what your conditions will be, but also leave some details open. Do not put too much pressure on those hiring you for immediate answers. And most of all, once you make a decision, don't second guess or look back about your decision to return to Israel. It will always be more challenging than staying in the US, but the personal rewards should compensate for that. Move forward, work hard and enjoy the process!
More advice? Look in:
How to get hired in academia? Articles by Science Career in its Academic Scientists' Toolkit including:
- Writing a Research Plan
- Writing a Successful CV
- Writing a Winning Cover Letter
- Writing the Teaching Statement
- The Job Talk
- Negotiating I
- Negotiating II
- Writing a Research Plan