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Need a little help with a Job search

PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 12:57 pm
by Julia
I've been in my current Post Doc position for about 2 years and am coming to the end of it and looking to move on. I seem to be having trouble landing an interview and its getting really frustrating. All I really want is an interview and then the employers can decide for themselves if I'm suitable and I'm fine with that.

To give you some insight: I'm Australian, on a J-1 and came to the US because my fiancé was pursuing a PhD at my current institution. This institution is R1 but is not extremely prestigious in medical sciences (I have a PhD in Pharmacology) and I did have other offers at more prestigous universities before I came here but elected to come to where my fiancé is because the job offer here was on a really promising project.

My PI is a really great guy and I've enjoyed working for him, particularly on a personal level, but I have found that there are a few things about my time here that may have stunted my career; I was promised a project involving experimental pharmacology (DMPK - thats my training) of a number of new chemical entities but this project disappeared when the combinatorial organic chemist moved on without producing the analogues, analogues that I was told were already present in the lab when I interviewed. Not to worry, I mean scientists are supposed to be creative and independent arent we? So I came up with a research project in line with other work in the lab and my PI seemed happy with it. However, after I had prepared a grant application, he told me that I may not apply for grants while working for him (to quote "I dont rent out my lab space") so I have been sort of cribbing resources here and there. I have also contributed about 1/2 the experiments towards 1 paper that I will not be 1st author on and the same plus the idea for another that I will be second author on. I have 3 published papers from my post-doc (together with 5 from my PhD and a book chapter) and they're all in fairly good journals with impact factors ranging from 2.5-6, but my PI is currently sitting on 5 papers (2 first author, 1 co-first, 2 second author (of 3)) that he is simply not getting around to reading. I feel that I have learned so many other things that are valuable from being here as I have had the experience of managing the Lab, advising MS and PhD students (my PI is a department chair and away a lot) and have even completely devised a couple of MS and PhD projects on top of my own research.

Is anybody out there able to help me with tips for landing the interview and somehow getting across that I've picked up all the managerial experience as well as being a productive scientist? I really dont want to do another post doc.


PS My network here in the US is pretty small but I am trying to get into (and construct my own) rolodexes.

Need a little help with a Job search

PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:11 pm
by Dave Jensen

You never mentioned what type of job you are seeking, academic, industry, etc. I think that people will need to know this if they are to offer any suggestions,


Need a little help with a Job search

PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:23 pm
by Julia
Thanks Dave.
to be honest I can see myself fitting in both academia and industry. I can be pretty hyperkinetic and think I would enjoy the faster paced, more pressured environment of industry. Having said that I have a number of ideas for research directions that I'm really keen on which are not immediately productive (in a Pharma or biotech sense) and I'd use them to found lab directions. I guess I'm playing both sides of the fence here as I'm applying to academia and industry, although with zero industry contacts and hitting somewhat of a wall with the cold calling HR approach its a bit hard.
I hope some of you successful ex-post docs out there can help!

Need a little help with a Job search

PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:24 pm
by Emil Chuck
A number of various general issues first:

Academia hiring vs. industry hiring is going to be remarkably different. There's a "season" with academic hiring that doesn't exist with industry hiring. If you like the industry world, that probably suits you depending on how much time you have left with your position.

Others may disagree, but the fact you are already very productive in your postdoc with what you have published is good proof that you are a very capable scientist. Now the issue is whether your job search strategy is the problem (e.g., you are not applying for the right jobs or not selling yourself properly).

If you want to emphasize your experience with managing others, I suggest you list specific projects in which you had managerial responsibilities. You should note that in your resume as you list the types of research projects you have done.

I'm sure there are a number of people here who can specifically give you advice on your cover letter as well as your resume, both of which must be catered specifically to the job (note singular) to which you are applying. But you should remember you want to convince the hiring manager/reviewer that you are perfect for the job they offer, with proper "data" to prove your point.

Need a little help with a Job search (Visa q)

PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:28 pm
by Emil Chuck
Now a more general question to the career counselor advisors: do you think the industry employers are afraid of her J-1 status and the hassle to hire her as an H1B? Assuming that she is going to be married to a US citizen, when should Julia bring this up, or should she at all?

Need a little help with a Job search

PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 4:42 pm
by Dave Jensen
One comment to add to Emil's is this . . . Don't EVER let people on either side of this industry/academia divide know of your mixed interest. To the industry hiring manager, you are SOLELY and EXCLUSIVELY interested in industry, etc.

Also, with regards to the question of whether employers will shy away from her because of immigration issues, yes they will . . . Certain employers (20%0 will have no problem with this, other companies (80%) will not proceed. That just makes the job search a bit trickier, but for a gung-ho person like Julia, "not to worry."

Also, Julia, I would write the Australian life sciences representatives in the States (email me personally as I know them) and ask them to refer you to ex-Pat's who are working here in the US biotechnology industry and who may be excellent networking for your search.

Dave Jensen, Moderator