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)
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.
- 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.