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How many applications to find a post-doc? - (May/28/2013 )

I tried for some time to find a job in bio-industry, but unfortunately without any success! Almost no jobs for PhD. Either overqualified for technicians job, or under-qualified - I don't have 5 years of industrial experience.

I'm trying to find a post-doctoral position. What I discovered that the majority of topic are not interesting to me and do not let me to acquire any useful skills. Academia trains you for academia.
I also discovered that you can't get in a good group w/o first author publications. I do not know what to do: to quit science completely, perhaps without defending a theses; try to get a post-doc in a shitty group?
And how many letters of application I have to write?

You cannot imagine how bad it is to feel yourself a complete looser every day of your life! I wish I was dead now.


well when you got a PhD you're surely not a loser...Anyway how difficult it is depends on where you made your PhD (field of research), in which group and which country...
Anyway surely it's not easy to find a job in both academia and industry as there are many PhDs around now and many have similar knowledge and skills (e.g. molecular working techniques, often in a medical science).
Because of this some other skills that distinguish you from the mainstream might be helpful....e.g. special language skills, techniques, "soft skills", skills in other fields (such as management) etc.
And you can ask for internship/placement to shpw a company how good you are and in which techniques you excel. That can be a way to get your foot in the door...
Anyway for academia you surely have to publish and publish, but for me it seems a kind of dead end finally as only lucky (very) few get a permanent position (with the help of publications, networking, up-to-date skills, etc etc). IMO it's a good idea to leave academia as early as possible, except you have such a profile.


Oh my.....

You need to just send out loads of CV's and Letters (Personalized letters in which much sunshine is blown up the rear of the prospective PI) and BE POSITIVE when you talk with them about your stuff. Even if you hated your project your mentor, your school, puppies, rainbows etc, you need to be excited about it and make it sound interesting. No one wants to sit through a talk in which the speaker doesn't even care. Let then know that even if you did not get a first author paper yet, you still care about your work. Oh yeh...and really suck up to your references!

Broaden you horizons. Your first postdoc does not have to be what you are going to do with the rest of your life. Who knows you may just find a new scientic love. I find that unfamiliarity breeds contempt in science sometimes. Once you get into a new project you may just learn to love it. Either way in science sometimes you just have to be a bit of a whore.

Apply Apply Apply. I started with the top 20 Micro programs in the country and looked at the PIs and projects. I had my second batch of CV's and covers ready to go if that did not work out. The rejections I got hurt, especially in a field full of this many A-Type personalities. However, I ended up getting in a good lab but I was readly to continue the hunt. Times are tough out there and it takes some time to fine a good spot. Science is about having a thick skin...I am still not good at that but I am trying.

Hope it helps. Good Luck and stick to it!


Thank you for the the reply, labprincess! Yes, it seems that sending the huge amount of applications is the only working strategy.
I do not really know how to combine lots of applications and make them "personal" at the time. I'm sending applications for all kinds of jobs: industry, teaching, now also for postdoc positions. And I'm getting not a single positive reply! Not a single.
I cannot send 400 application around the world and make all of them personal ! It seems that there is no other option than sending dozens or even hundreds of applications (not really reached that number). I will not have time to write a thesis in such a case.

It is all so unbelievable horrible ! I remember I tried to get into this International PhD program to get a good training, skills, I hoped to be able to shift into the industry (in case science didn't work for me). And I suffered for 3 years with ignorant supervisor, working on the project with no impact. And now I have to finish with no meaningful results and no publications. My skills do not match 90% of the industrial requirements ! Because they want to have people in industry already with an industrial experience. I should quit this none-sense phd that ruined my life and wasted my time long-time ago.
Just do not want to discourage other people!

P.S. I am really wondering what will come in the nearest future. I got to know that not only the permanent positions in academia are scarce. One receives a several hundreds of applications for a single job announcement in the bio-industry. Hundreds ! And still the system keeps on producing more and more people with the degree, throwing more and more people to the job market every year. When does it stop? What will happen with a job market in a few years?


You are preaching to the choir. I did get a good postdoc and I am on a fellowship, but that does not stop me feeling pessimistic about the future. I admit that our field is tough and unfair. They keep producing new PhD's but the older ones never retire and their is no money to maintain all of us. I have the highest education among my friends but I make the least amount of money and have the longest working hours. My reward for getting my PhD was having to get rid of everything I own and move to a stange place with no money, friends, furniture, etc and begin work in a strange lab where I know nothing. My PI tells me how hard I need to work to succeed but he started his lab when that NIH budget was twice what it is now. Now in you can work hard and easily still not make it. You should look up some of the rants by Dr. Jon Yewdell. He is a big advocate that the system needs to change.


labprincess on Tue Jul 2 19:31:51 2013 said:

I have the highest education among my friends but I make the least amount of money and have the longest working hours.

Let's forget the long working hours - it has never been easy. But I personally find it outrageous that such a low compensation is proposed for such a high education ! I will say even more. It is now only outrageous, it's destructive for the society in a long run. It is destructive because it inflates the value of education, the value of intellectual endeavor, the value of the degree bu itself ! In principle, one does not need to study for 10 years and sacrifice the holidays/weekends to become an unemployed beggar at his late 30's. One can become a "homeless Bill" much easier !
But I can take a bet that "the System" will not change at all any time soon despite all the advocacy for changes !


So far I'm getting only rejections! Apparently, it's impossible to find a postdoctoral position w/o first-author publication (s) !


Goggi on Fri Jul 5 18:59:50 2013 said:

So far I'm getting only rejections. Apparently, it's impossible to find a postdoctoral position w/o first-author publication (s).

But isn't it usually one of the requirements of most institutions for awarding the PhD degree- one paper already published and a second one submitted or at least in the process? As what was mentioned in the previous posts, there could easily be tens or even hundreds of applications for one postdoc position, if one doesn't have even the 'basic' requirements, then they're almost out of the playing field but that doesn't mean that it's really that impossible to get a position. Aren't you working on your paper yet?


No, I'm not working on the paper, because I do not have enough results for one. And I do not have time. In fact, I had less that 3 years to do something from complete scratch.


the greatest problem is that I do not have any options or "alternative careers" chances.