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How to write a cover letter for postdoc position application

need a template

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28 replies to this topic

#16 pito

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 01:31 PM

It's bec he's got family over there, pito.... and I think he only recently finished his PhD (this year?) and has just started with his postdoc in the same lab (right, Curtis?)


@Curtis: I guess you've already tried going to the university websites to search for postdoc opportunities? It’s definitely more tough and highly competitive to get into UBC or even SFU…and Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities here in Canada so you probably have a better chance in Ontario where there are more universities/institutes to apply to and relatively cheaper to live in (except perhaps Toronto) compared with BC. And your ex-advisor is right, there are more grant opportunities in the US than here. Each year, research funding has been decreasing so it is more and more difficult for labs to hire personnel and especially international applicants. They’d rather get grad students instead. Besides, those who are already here (whether doing a PhD or the first postdoc) usually have the advantage…but that doesn’t mean that you shld stop searching….oftentimes persistence pays off and if you can ask people to introduce you or make connections for you, as pito has suggested, then just give it a try…


Ah ok, my bad..
I assumed he ment 7 years of post doc experience!

Exactly my point... if you see what I mean...

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.


#17 Curtis

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 08:08 PM

I have enough with UK. Posted Image

me too, it wasn't a really ideal place. except for London...

by the way, I also work on viruses, I use them in cancer therapy

#18 Curtis

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 10:10 PM


(Keep in mind that often/sometimes even "idiots" get good jobs because they know how to network or have a big mouth/dare to ask/do! You can be the best scientist out there.. if you dont have got the balls to dare stuff ... nobody will know you/care about you. Its sad that I have to say this, but often its better to have a "big mouth" (or be manupilative/play good friends with people) then being a great scientist....)



That is exactly my problem, I don't have a big mouth!

yes Casandra's right. I got family and relatives in BC, that's why I want to move there, but at the same time I do understand that we can apply for Canadian immigration too and work there legally, but this will take at least 3-4 years. We are applying right now actually...but we thought of getting employment visa and move there at the same time our immigration application is being reviewed.

Casandra is also right about my degree, I received my degree this year, but I've been working as post-doc since February.

The other thing is that my Canadian advisor doesn't sound OK these days. But I will try to contact him later definitely.

#19 pito

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 01:47 AM



(Keep in mind that often/sometimes even "idiots" get good jobs because they know how to network or have a big mouth/dare to ask/do! You can be the best scientist out there.. if you dont have got the balls to dare stuff ... nobody will know you/care about you. Its sad that I have to say this, but often its better to have a "big mouth" (or be manupilative/play good friends with people) then being a great scientist....)


That is exactly my problem, I don't have a big mouth!

yes Casandra's right. I got family and relatives in BC, that's why I want to move there, but at the same time I do understand that we can apply for Canadian immigration too and work there legally, but this will take at least 3-4 years. We are applying right now actually...but we thought of getting employment visa and move there at the same time our immigration application is being reviewed.

Casandra is also right about my degree, I received my degree this year, but I've been working as post-doc since February.

The other thing is that my Canadian advisor doesn't sound OK these days. But I will try to contact him later definitely.


Well, then its time you start working on your "mouth".
Its time you start to get in touch with your co-workers, people you met etc..
Always keep in mind that people are more inclined to offer familiar faces the job.. If they know you, seen you.. its always an advantage (unless you made yourself look like a fool Posted Image ).

And your canadian advisor doesnt sound ok? So you allready spoke to him? If yes then why didnt you raise the question about your move to canada??

You had the perfect "reason/excuse" to mention your potential move to canada!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me make it obvious for you:

you: hey, how are you?
him: not so good, I moved to usa, because canada wasnt working anymore
you: how come?
him: well, no money there, I went to the states..
you: really, wow, thats a shame and I was thinking about moving to canada.
him: really? Eum, if you want to, its not all that bad..
you: yeah,; but if you say you moved, then should I still move to canada? DO you still have contacts there?
him: well yes, I could get you in touch with...


You see what I mean????

Turn the conversation!!!!!!
Damnit, you had the perfect opportunity to speak about your possible move!!!!!!!

This has everything to do with having "the mouth" to change the topic or to adress your problem!
Yes, maybe he has problems, and yes you need to listen to him about it etc.. but also use it to speak about your problems!

Its a perfect opportunity for you to ask him about his move from canada! You can simply call him and ask him if he would advise you to move to canada or not and whether he could help you etc..

If you dont ask him, he wont know! He cant "feel" you want to move to canada!
And it wouldnt even be that bad, because by asking about canada and his move (and your potential move) he can spill his guts about canada and feel reliefed.

Of course, I dont know the supervisor and maybe he just doesnt want to talk about it.. but if you dont ask it, you wont know it.

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.


#20 virusfan

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 03:48 AM


(Keep in mind that often/sometimes even "idiots" get good jobs because they know how to network or have a big mouth/dare to ask/do! You can be the best scientist out there.. if you dont have got the balls to dare stuff ... nobody will know you/care about you. Its sad that I have to say this, but often its better to have a "big mouth" (or be manupilative/play good friends with people) then being a great scientist....)



Totally agreed that to have a "big mouth" is better than being a great scientist. I have witnessed several people in my institute who got post doc job offer easily, though they don't have any first author publication after their PhD study or after their first post doc. Another one is even worse, this post doc, though has a first author paper, is extremely poor in experimental design and doesn't know to troubleshoot experimental problems, except complaining.
What to do? This is the advantage to have super duper big mouth, and it is also essential to kiss the right ass! Or, no progress in your scientific career!

#21 virusfan

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 04:08 AM


I have enough with UK. Posted Image

me too, it wasn't a really ideal place. except for London...

by the way, I also work on viruses, I use them in cancer therapy

You found London interesting? I'm at London now. :)
Oh, virotherapy, that's interesting! Well, I am no longer restricted to virology. All pathogens, from viruses to bacteria to parasites, are interesting and fascinating. Personally, I think it is essential to keep a broad research interest, since it is not easy to get into a research that fit perfectly with your specific research interest. You can get into your real interest later when you are the PI. After all, every research project teaches you something, we learn from these microbes, cancer cells, etc. They are our teachers. Just accumulate all the experiences on the way, and they are your weapons in the future. :)

#22 pito

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 05:15 AM



I have enough with UK. Posted Image

me too, it wasn't a really ideal place. except for London...

by the way, I also work on viruses, I use them in cancer therapy

You found London interesting? I'm at London now. Posted Image
Oh, virotherapy, that's interesting! Well, I am no longer restricted to virology. All pathogens, from viruses to bacteria to parasites, are interesting and fascinating. Personally, I think it is essential to keep a broad research interest, since it is not easy to get into a research that fit perfectly with your specific research interest. You can get into your real interest later when you are the PI. After all, every research project teaches you something, we learn from these microbes, cancer cells, etc. They are our teachers. Just accumulate all the experiences on the way, and they are your weapons in the future. Posted Image


I am going off topic here, but I want to react.

I agree with you and I dont!

Let me explain:

Yes, its important to have an open view on things and be aware about more then just your specialisation!
But then again: no, I dont agree with you because virusses themself are allready so "big" (there are so many types, so many things to learn..). Its impossible to be an expert in virusses and at the same time be (or try) an expert on bacteria or fungi or..
Its a thin line to balance on and its not easy.

If you want to become a PI, its also important that you can show that you are really really really intersted in (for ex) virusses..
If a lab looks for a PI in virology (and for ex specialised in HIV) then forget it if you apply whitch a PhD in virology, a post doc in bacteria, another post doc in fungi and the last job was for example on bacteria again..

If there is someone who applies with a PhD in virology and a post doc in HIV and a post doc in virology.. then he got the job!

(unless ofcourse they know the first person.. etc..we talked about this before:p)

At a certain point you need to make that decision! Your area of expertise!

(just a general note... I just want to stretch out that at a certain point you need to make a decision about what you really want to do: specialise and become an expert in a certain field or stay on a more "general-wider" view , both have advantages and disadvantages)

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.


#23 casandra

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 09:10 AM


yes Casandra's right. I got family and relatives in BC, that's why I want to move there, but at the same time I do understand that we can apply for Canadian immigration too and work there legally, but this will take at least 3-4 years. We are applying right now actually...but we thought of getting employment visa and move there at the same time our immigration application is being reviewed.

Casandra is also right about my degree, I received my degree this year, but I've been working as post-doc since February.

Yup, casandra is always right ;)...Curtis dude, you might wanna check out first if you can apply for other kinds of visa while your immigrant visa is being processed bec I think for certain visas, you're not allowed to. And also lately, there had been lots and lots of changes in our immigration policies. You can also try to apply to the States first and then come here...that would probably be 'easier' since the trend is the other way around.....
"Oh what a beauteousness!"
- hobglobin, personal comment about my beauteous photo......

#24 Curtis

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 07:10 PM


.that would probably be 'easier' since the trend is the other way around.....


funny, i thought so....actually someone from the US told us he can send me job invitation so that I can move to the US first and then if I can't find what I want in there I can go to Canada, but I'm a scientist and I'm not into illegal things, thought this is not really illegal and many people do that. I want to work in peace and this kind of thing occupies so much of my mind that leaves no room for science...my wife says I look like John Nobel from Fringe.

I just received an email from Prof Andrews in Hamilton that he already filled someone for the position. Damn... I really wanted to work with him badly, although he's not in Vancouver. This guy's research is exactly what I've been doing for the past 8 years.

I think I need to talk to my big boss in a while, then she can recommend me to her collaborators in Canada or the US. but it's not the right time to do that yet...

#25 Curtis

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 07:23 PM



You found London interesting? I'm at London now. Posted Image


I did my MSc at University of Essex, in Colchester, but I lived in Kensington, London for a while.

And don't forget about the 'LUCK' and 'NATIONALITY' factors; It's funny...I graduated with distinction from Essex, and if I were a UK national I would have been given full scholarship anywhere I applied for easily...I applied for Cancer Research UK in Holborn, I passed the first interview for two positions, but in the second interview both jobs rejected me because I wasn't from the EU...it's really sad...I remember my classmates who didn't even know how to pipette got PhD positions in New Jersey, while I ended up here...life hasn't been kind to me much.

#26 Curtis

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 07:36 PM



you: hey, how are you?
him: not so good, I moved to usa, because canada wasnt working anymore
you: how come?
him: well, no money there, I went to the states..
you: really, wow, thats a shame and I was thinking about moving to canada.
him: really? Eum, if you want to, its not all that bad..
you: yeah,; but if you say you moved, then should I still move to canada? DO you still have contacts there?
him: well yes, I could get you in touch with...


This made me laugh hard...yes Pito, he is ignoring me, I don't know why, maybe he doesn't like me anymore...I don't know...I haven't done anything to him...but what can I do?...I sent him like 7 emails and he just replied to one of them with a two word email 'yes, sure'

That's all I got from him...the other day I reviewed all of our recent emails because I thought maybe I've said something to him that he didn't like, or maybe I offended him somehow, but I couldn't find anything....I can't find a good reason why he doesn't reply!!!

what to do? beg him? ....it's funny, we published two articles in very good Journals together, and I should have his full support, but he is ignoring me. Maybe he thinks if he recruits me then he will back-stab my current boss who is the deputy minister of science of Malaysia....I don't know how to approach him. I tried getting a reply from him even by inviting him to a conference, but no news.

I'm sad, because I'm not a man to be treated like this. I'm totally innocent.

#27 pito

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 02:04 AM




you: hey, how are you?
him: not so good, I moved to usa, because canada wasnt working anymore
you: how come?
him: well, no money there, I went to the states..
you: really, wow, thats a shame and I was thinking about moving to canada.
him: really? Eum, if you want to, its not all that bad..
you: yeah,; but if you say you moved, then should I still move to canada? DO you still have contacts there?
him: well yes, I could get you in touch with...


This made me laugh hard...yes Pito, he is ignoring me, I don't know why, maybe he doesn't like me anymore...I don't know...I haven't done anything to him...but what can I do?...I sent him like 7 emails and he just replied to one of them with a two word email 'yes, sure'

That's all I got from him...the other day I reviewed all of our recent emails because I thought maybe I've said something to him that he didn't like, or maybe I offended him somehow, but I couldn't find anything....I can't find a good reason why he doesn't reply!!!

what to do? beg him? ....it's funny, we published two articles in very good Journals together, and I should have his full support, but he is ignoring me. Maybe he thinks if he recruits me then he will back-stab my current boss who is the deputy minister of science of Malaysia....I don't know how to approach him. I tried getting a reply from him even by inviting him to a conference, but no news.

I'm sad, because I'm not a man to be treated like this. I'm totally innocent.


Ok, this is a bit different then what I supposed.
Reading this.. it makes me wonder what kind of relation you guys had...
I cant understand you call him your best "contact" ...
Or maybe you are right and there is something badly wrong with him..
Hard to tell of course.

Anyway, you tried to contact him a few times, no luck, so leave it as it is for the moment.
Start betting on other changes.

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.


#28 Curtis

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 08:12 PM

when he was my advisor he helped me so much. when I e-mailed him, after 1 minute he replied immediately, day and night he was there for me. He even sent me a $100 gift for my wedding by mail just 4 months ago. I really can't find any reason why he acts like this.

#29 pito

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 01:50 AM

when he was my advisor he helped me so much. when I e-mailed him, after 1 minute he replied immediately, day and night he was there for me. He even sent me a $100 gift for my wedding by mail just 4 months ago. I really can't find any reason why he acts like this.


Eum, this is weird then yes...

Maybe you should indeed wait a bit before you contact him again or just ask him directly whats wrong..
But thats up to you.

If you don't know it, then ask it! Better to ask and look foolish to some than not ask and stay stupid.





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