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Find a Postdoc Position

A postdoc is a person who has received a doctoral degree and is pursuing additional research, training, or teaching to have better skills to pursue a career in academia, research, or other fields. Postdocs work closely with a faculty mentor. Postdocs play a crucial role in the university; they supplement the research expertise of faculty by sharing new techniques, collaborating with other institutions, and helping to manage the daily operations of a laboratory or research site. They also contribute teaching and advising support to undergraduate and graduate students.

Consider your long-term goals and why you want to do a postdoc:

  • Do you want to stay in academia or are you looking at industry?
  • Do you want to focus on teaching, research, or a combination of both?
  • Are you getting a postdoc to learn new skills?
  • Are you getting a postdoc to publish?
  • Are you getting a postdoc to develop better teaching skills?
  • Are you getting a postdocs to further develop your existing skills?

Prepare for the job search:

  • Develop your CV. You need a strong CV to get a position, so get help writing it from a career counselor in your college or in Career Services in Barnes Hall. This is a very important document, which you will keep updating for the rest of your career.
  • Do mock interviews. Work on your interviewing skills and develop your job talk.
  • Ask your advisor and other faculty members to be your references. Letters of recommendation are a key part of the application process. You need strong references who know you well. Give each reference an updated copy of your CV.
  • Network. Let everyone know that you are looking for a postdoc.

For details, go to Curriculum Vitae and Network.

Talk with your advisor and others to identify universities/labs:

Once you know what you hope to accomplish during a postdoc and have made a list of prospective labs, talk to your advisor and other faculty members to shorten this list. Also, talk with postdocs in your department to get their opinions.

Investigate the labs/PIs and university:

Check out the lab’s most recent publications and the lab’s website. Find out the record of past postdocs/grad students in the lab. Talk with current and former postdocs/grad students about their experience there, as well as where they are now. Choosing the right PI is vital to your future career. Consider:

  • Is the PI well connected?
  • Does the PI have tenure?
  • Does the PI have a solid record in getting grants?
  • Does the PI have a solid record publishing?

Check the university salary and benefit package for postdocs; call the Postdoc Office if they have one. Find out if they offer:

  • health benefits for postdocs and their families
  • retirement benefit
  • career counseling
  • housing (can be essential in a large city)

Start applying:

Send out your CV and cover letter to the labs you are interested in. Ifyou do not get a reply within a month, follow up with an email. Conferences are a great place to meet PIs and network; so before the conference, contact the PI/labs to schedule an informational meeting.

Interview:

  • Before an interview, prepare and practice your presentation.
  • Make your presentation distinctive, interesting, and understandable.
  • Research the universities where you will be interviewing so you can ask informed questions.
  • During the interview, ask questions to make sure this is the right position for you.
  • Talk to other postdocs and grad students in the lab.
  • Send thank you notes after each interview.

For details, go to Prepare for Interviews.

Making the decision:

By now you should have a good idea of each lab you applied to, and which is the best place for your research. Once you make a decision you need to stay with it, so think carefully before accepting an offer.

For details, go to Evaluate Offers.

For more information, contact Christine Holmes, Director of Postdoctoral Studies.