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How to find a postdoctoral position?

Updated on January 12, 2013

Postdoctoral fellows are hired in academia, industry and in government agencies. As a postdoc, you can do research independently or work for someone’s grant. To do independent postdoctoral research, you should first apply and obtain the fellowship/grant. When you work as a postdoc for someone’s grant than you will be closely supervised, and required to carry out specific studies as stated in advisor’s grant application.

How to find a postdoctoral position?

There are several ways to find a postdoc position of your interest. It is better to try all possibilities. Here are some tips to search postdoc positions of your specialty.

Postdoctoral opportunities through open adverts

This is a general approach to find a postdoc position. Often employers want to hire a postdoc with specific background or experience. So they prefer to advertise the position worldwide to find the best candidates. There are several search engines in the Internet through which you can find open postdoc position related to your specialty. Two commonly used job search engines are from Nature and Science magazines (www.nature.com/naturejobs/; http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/).Here you can search jobs based on discipline and location. To find a postdoc position through an open advert is quite competitive, as the employers receive a large number of applications from all around the world.

Postdoctoral jobs through the university job board

It is university policy to advertise all job openings on their job notice board. If you are interested to do a postdoc in a specific university or at a particular location than searching openings through a university job board is the best option.

Finding postdoc jobs through networking

In academy setting, it is common to invite faculty members from different institutes to give a talk/seminar. After the seminar, find a chance to have an informal chat with the speaker. During this time, inform the speaker that you are looking for a postdoc position. Certainly, you will get a positive response from the speaker about existing positions or chance to consider you in the future. Collect his or her email address and keep in touch. I know in several instances if they don’t offer you the position right away they will suggest you to contact their colleagues who are looking for postdoc. In this way, you can start building your network in the academic field.

Another way to get connected to potential employers of your specialty is at scientific conference or meetings. Hundreds of researchers will be attending meetings and a great opportunity to meet them personally and to discuss about your desire of joining their lab. Do some homework before attending the conference such as whom you want to meet, what questions you should ask and how to follow up later. Try to visit as many as posters/presentations and get noticed. Moreover, this will give you an idea on the nature of research work they are doing.

Nowadays, many major scientific meetings organize a job fair. You can register to that and will be informed. Additionally, several hiring managers from industry will be looking for postdocs at meetings; you can talk to them and arrange for an interview at the conference venue.

Funding agencies supported postdoctoral fellowships

Research funding agencies also advertise postdoc positions. Interestingly, you will find these openings only in their web pages. Funding agencies offers both independent postdoc fellowships as well to work under investigators. For example, you can go to National Institute of Health (NIH) web page (http://www.jobs.nih.gov/) and type postdoc jobs in the search window to find current openings.Also, there is an option for non-US citizens to apply for fellowship through this web page. You should find out the funding agency in your specialty. You can also register and receive e-mail alerts whenever the job is posted.

You can find postdoc position through the laboratory or faculty member’s website

This is one of the effective ways of finding postdoc positions. As we know there will be several departments in any university. Each department will have their own research programs, and also, within departments each of the faculty members will be doing research in a specific area using a selective set of techniques. You can visit each faculty member’s website and find out about their research and see whether it matches with your background, expertise and interest. You can inquire about any current or future openings by directly contacting the Principal Investigator of the lab.

How to find a postdoc position from publications?

It is common in academia to publish the research work. Go through the publications in your field and find out the research work that is closely related to your Ph.D. work. Usually the corresponding author or last author of the publication will be the Principal Investigator of the study. Send an email to the corresponding author describing your educational background, expertise and interest to join his or her group as a postdoctoral fellow. Many times the postdoc positions are not advertised from large research groups and there will be possibilities of hiring you if your expertise matches their laboratory research interests.

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