Applying for a post-doc

Posted by | January 14, 2014 | Academia / Research

Scientist in love with his creationThe ideal momentum to start applying for your first post-doc would be 8-6 months before finishing the lab work and writing your thesis. During that time you won’t be super-stressed with experiments and you will still have some free time to search online for available jobs. The other option is to concentrate only in your thesis and start seriously looking for jobs after submission.

  Well, although many people have followed the second option there is a ‘catch’. And this catch is losing your sanity. I am smiling while I ‘m typing this but hear me out. Once you submit your thesis you will feel relieved and you would like to take few weeks off just to clear your mind. However, all your friends and people from work will keep asking what are you going to do next? You don’t really need to have an answer at that stage but soon or later you will start feeling guilty and all sort of scenarios will pass through your mind: start up a business or work in fast-food chain just to do something irrelevant to science.

Ok, once you realize that is the right time for you, then start the job hunting seriously. Firstly, find the right research groups that you would like to work with and secondly tidy up your CV as you are not a student any more, remember? Hopefully, during your PhD you would have established some good connections with other research groups either through conferences or personal collaboration. Well, now is the right time to use them. Even if you are not interested in the particular groups per se, it would be nice to drop them an email saying that you are looking for a job and maybe they know somebody who knows someone who knows somebody else looking for post-docs. The other classical way is to search online through nature.com, newscientist.com and jobs.ac.uk. Quite often, you will get a reply but the problem is that you compete a great number of applicants. The third option is to contact the group leader directly and introduce yourself. Many PIs prefer this approach as they see you have a genuine interest in their work. Therefore, it is highly possible to be invited for an informal chat even if they don’t have an available job at the time.

Let’s talk about the CV now. The style is a little bit different from the curriculum you used when you applied for the PhD. Now, you need to emphasize in the number of research projects you have done, the techniques you have learned, the responsibilities you had in the lab and most importantly the number of your publications. If you haven’t published anything yet but you are preparing a manuscript with your supervisor then you should mention it. I would also include a section with the conferences I attended for both poster and oral presentations. Demonstrating or supervising undergraduate students is a plus for your application as well as Journal Clubs or membership in the postgraduate committee.

Well, these are pretty much the basics. Hope you enjoyed the article and please feel free to comment below and share your personal experience.

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