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unrecommendation of supervisor

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unrecommendation of supervisor

Postby Val » Sat Mar 05, 2005 6:26 am


I found a pattern in my postdoctoral employments, to which I do not have explanation. For example, my supervsior told me that they did not have funding anymore, and he had to let me go. This is university department which does lots of contract work for industry, and the supervisor has lots of industrial contacts around the world. I ask him if he could recommend me to any employers, and in effect he says "no". From my point of view, it is shallow of him -- I would get employment, and he would get a contact "base" at some company. But I have no idea about the supervisor's reasons. He gave me an excellent recommendation. If someone could tell me...

(For those unaware, scientific [industrial] jobs in Australia are filled in almost exclusively through the networks -- most often current employee brings in his former colleague).

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Val
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unrecommendation of supervisor

Postby MPB » Sat Mar 05, 2005 1:23 pm


Maybe he wants to get rid of you. This would explain both the willingness to give you a good recommendation (to make it easier for you to find another job elsewhere) and also the unwillingness to recommend you to anyone he knows personally.



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unrecommendation of supervisor

Postby Dave Jensen » Sat Mar 05, 2005 1:53 pm

Hi Val,

There could be some truth to what MPB said. I'd hate to speculate on such a nasty scenario. You'd know better than we would. Many supervisors give great reviews if they want to "help" someone out who they are getting rid of. He wouldn't want to give you direct names of contacts if he didn't want you to approach his personal contacts, however. After those letters of reference arrive somewhere, he could be getting phone calls in which he isn't so positive.

Val, why don't you test this and have a friend who is very professional sounding call up this supervisor and do a "telephone reference check." Have them ask that person how you performed, what he thought of you, etc. See if there are bad references being given out by this person who gave you a good letter of recommendation,

Dave
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unrecommendation of supervisor

Postby Kim » Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:02 am

Your PI does not create jobs in industry. If your PI has connection in industry, and if there are openings, usually the companies will come to your PI to ask for any reference. By then, your PI can give your recommandation letters to them. If the companies have not asked him/her for any potential hire recently, your PI cannot give your recommandation letter to any one.

You probably can approach this situation better. Remember that you should not ask your PI to find a job for you.
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unrecommendation of supervisor

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun Mar 06, 2005 11:28 am

Kim may be "thnking academic" on this one. The job of a PI is to get the postdoc started with a career, and that means sharing contact names and information about his or her network. If they don't do that, they have let you down on the implicict agreement that you have when you are "managed" by someone.

This isn't true only for PI's and Postdocs, but any boss in industry as well knows that they need to help their people find jobs when they get cut. "Recommendation letters" have nothing to do with it (and they have no place in industry, where people rely on phone and personal contacts)..

Dave
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unrecommendation of supervisor

Postby Val » Mon Mar 07, 2005 12:14 am


Dave Jensen wrote:

He wouldn't want to give you direct names of contacts if he didn't want you to approach his personal contacts, however.

This is what I wanted to hear. That's it. The supervisor would have to answer the queries of his contacts about me, and he is unable to vouch 100% for me.

In many cases, the laboratory was under-resourced. I completed the expected minimum (and bent backwards to achieve that), but I did not achieve anything stellar. He does not need my performance anymore (and this is why he lets me go when the financing runs out), but he understands that the project was severely under-resourced and this was not my fault that I did not "walk on the water". So he gives me excellent recommendation letter, but does not want me to use his contact network.

The job of a PI is to get the postdoc started with a career, and that means sharing contact names and information about his or her network. If they don't do that, they have let you down on the implicict agreement

You are right, Dave -- there is an implicit agreement that I work for my supervisor, and he helps me to find a job afterwards (through his network). But in many cases (if not in most), I completed (at least) the minimum of work and it was published in good journals, and yet the supervisor did not tell me anything along the lines: "Now I have to let you go, but you should contact this colleague of mine at Company X who needs specialists like you". Not that I am a bad scientist or I have a bad personality. I have seen this to happen to my former collagues. And I also saw that less capable colleagues of mine got recommended by their bosses to the new place of employment once their old company winded up. I was thinking what made those people better than me, and could not arrive at answer (well, I guess they were more complacent...)

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Val
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unrecommendation of supervisor

Postby Carlysle Tancha » Mon Mar 07, 2005 12:40 pm

I don't think that PIs are any different with respect to providing jobs/contact info. From their point of view, each person is struggling to get by and with the posts from Madison and Read on another string, even the PI can take part in the jungle. With someone who is uncertain in his position, how can he/she guarantee anything for the next person down the line? It would be naive to think otherwise--this may be particular to life sciences, but there are serious issues with regard to the competition with peers and even PIs, such that you have to be your biggest fan and supporter.
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