How to manage advisor recommendation

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How to manage advisor recommendation

Postby ATF » Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:54 pm

Hi Forum- Been a long time since I posted here, but urgently needed some advice...

I'm now a longtime post-doc who has recently gotten close to an industry job offer, to the point where the company wants to check my references. That's all well and good, except for the day that they contact my post-doc advisor, she comes by stressing about a paper that is in review (good journal, so its been 3 months now since initial submission) and saying that she'll need to negotiate with the company so that I can stay as a post-doc longer and get the paper accepted before moving on.

I've been in the same place for 5.5 years at this point, have had numerous manuscripts accepted, and will be out of funding in August, so I'm obviously inclined to take the position and come back to work nights and weekends to finish the paper, but advisor thinks that, "That never happens, you need your full dedication to the paper not on a job" and that it would be better to get both the paper and the job.

I'm not really sure how to handle this situation. I don't think I'll get a bad recommendation in terms of work etc., but at the same time, I'm positive she is going to say something about me needing to stay longer. I mentioned the paper during the interview, but didn't think advisor would freak out this much, so I thought it would be fine to start on a normal timeline. Now I'm concerned that this whole situation is going to make me look bad, screw up the job offer etc.

Should I contact the people calling my references ahead of time to warn them about this conversation? Or let my advisor say something and hope it doesn't derail things? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Re: How to manage advisor recommendation

Postby RSD » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:00 pm

If you have already giving your advisors contact info as a reference, and the company has contacted her, I assume she will provide a reference for you and it may be beyond your control.

Her desire for you to stay longer in the lab is a good thing, and reflects positively on you. I recommend being clear with your HR contact or hiring manager about when YOU are ready to start a new position. Be professional with your current advisor, and do your best to honor your commitments, but this is your career. Once the company is ready to hire, they may not want an extended start date.

Kudos on getting to this point. If you are having your references checked, you are likely the top candidate. Good luck.
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Re: How to manage advisor recommendation

Postby Rich Lemert » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:18 pm

"The paper was submitted three months ago and is in review."

I'm sorry, but just how likely is it that the reviewers are going to ask for more data? That's the only reason I can see for sticking around. Even then, though, would this be something that someone else could take on as a side project after you left?

How long does this journal typically take to get reviews back to the authors? If you can reasonably expect to see a response within a month or so, it might be alright to stick around. If you expect something more like six more months, that's another matter.

Your advisor may have been bitten in the past by students/post-docs not finishing papers once they've left, but finishing a paper after you've left a program is NOT an uncommon experience. Most places do try to get you to publish "when you have something to say," but I know of places that expect you to "do the work, get the degree, get out, then publish."

In the end, it's YOUR career. The company is willing to consider you even though the paper is not yet published. I'd say be ready to compromise (e.g. be willing to put in a few nights and weekends), but don't risk losing a position you want because your advisor is really concerned about her careeer.
Rich Lemert
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Re: How to manage advisor recommendation

Postby D.X. » Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:30 am


There is not much you can do - if you do get a call regarding your availbility, i recommned you state that you're ready to start per employer need. If asked about how you'll manage the publication, just state you'll work with your PI to have the project (the publication) managemed by someone else - I don't recommend you get into discussion about working evenings or weekends.

In fact I recommend you cut your loses. You already have publications and you've already taken the decision to leave academia, you don't need it. Trust me, if you get the job, once you start you'll have zero interest in completing the publication or even having authorship - you won't care. Rather you'll want to be focused on the job and that's the reality - to think other wise is just fairy tales or fantasy.

You've learned a lesson, be it in academia or industry, never use your current boss as a reference for an external opportunity (only exception is for those staying in academia where you need the PI to take you to the next step).

Folks in academia i've seen don't seem to get the message so there it is above, just don't do it. We don't do it in industry as common and accepted practice.

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