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. If you 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 Director of Postdoctoral Studies Christine Holmes (ch18@cornell.edu).