Subscribe

Forum

No, you might not need to do another postdoc

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward, Dave Walker
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

No, you might not need to do another postdoc

Postby Ana » Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:37 pm

We've been having many threads about how many years of postdoc are required to get a job, either in industry or academia. In my experience interviewing postdoc candidates in industry there is little correlation between the years of postdoc experience or number publications and the chances of getting offered the position. I've seen applicants fresh from their PhDs and applicants with 8-10 years of postdoc experience (often into their third postdoc) and the positions end up going to the candidate with the best fit and the right background which many times is not the one with the biggest CV.

The first part of my post is a message: I would like to tell those scientist in academia reading this forum and applying to postdoc or entry level positions in industry that if they don't have an offer or an interview they should not immediately assume that more postdoctoral training will be needed. If I need a microscopist and you have expertise in electrophysiology, I would hate thinking that you will take it as "oh, I wasn't good enough" when we don't call you for an interview or don't get past the phone interview. I would definitely hate thinking that you will go on and do another academic postdoc after your first applications don't progress feeling that you are not good enough and that by doing more of the same you will get there. Or that you would come to this forum and say "I have 8 years of postdoctoral training, 12 first author publications and I don't have an offer, should I do another postdoc?" and scare the other posters thinking that even that much is now "not enough".

Many offers in industry are still going to fresh PhDs (postdoc positions) or with one postdoc (entry level positions). It is not that people need to wait until having 7+ years of postdoctoral training in order to qualify for a job, but that we are having people stuck in postdoc positions for that long. It is very different.

The second part is a question. We have many applications for industry postdoc positions coming from these long-term academic postdocs. I think it is not a good career move as it is yet another postdoctoral position (albeit in industry), and I don't see it as a move forward. They don't need more training. However I realize they are the ones making the decision to apply. How would you do if you were at the hiring manager side of the table? would you value years over fit?
User avatar
Ana
 
Posts: 633
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:48 pm
Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: No, you might not need to do another postdoc

Postby P.C. » Sat Jan 21, 2012 2:05 pm

Not a hiring manager, but I used to work for my father who was a civil engineer.
He hired someone who could do the specific jobs he had to offer (typically civil engineering).
He was not hot on PhD civil engineers because they did not know how to do the specific jobs he had in time and on a budget (he would bid on a job and assume a certain amount of hrs to do it. If the guy doing the job could not finish the job in the allotted time he could lose money).
So the obvious answer is they just want to hire someone who they view can do the job. Here exerience is pretty convincing. Maybe
a 10 year post-doc can be trained to do the job but why take a chance, if a fresh PhD that has been doing it for 2 years is available??
If someone who fits well was not available only then would he consider bringing someone on board to train.
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education" - Mark Twain
P.C.
 
Posts: 2439
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Re: No, you might not need to do another postdoc

Postby Ana » Sun Jan 22, 2012 5:47 am

That's a great answe PC, thanks.
User avatar
Ana
 
Posts: 633
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:48 pm
Location: Madrid, Spain

Re: No, you might not need to do another postdoc

Postby M. Peabody » Sun Jan 22, 2012 7:58 pm

Absolutely true. I was going to post something similar about faculty jobs but never got around to it. The reality is that after 4-5 years of undergraduate, and 4-6 years of Ph.D. you've painted a pretty good picture of yourself. A few years of post-doc might help you gain some new skills, but that isn't going to make or break your career. Neither is that "just one more paper" going to make all the difference. Instead, people need to put the same effort into looking for a job as they do in doing research. The results might be a lot better...
M. Peabody
 
Posts: 1180
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm
Location: Midwest

Re: No, you might not need to do another postdoc

Postby RGM » Sun Jan 22, 2012 9:12 pm

Ana wrote:b]How would you do if you were at the hiring manager side of the table? would you value years over fit?[/b]


It's my opinion that HM's would go for the best fit as opposed to years. They want someone who can "hit the ground running".
"Some men see things as they are and say why, I dream things that never were and say why not"
"If you think research is expensive, try disease." - Mary Lasker
User avatar
RGM
 
Posts: 1088
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:32 pm

Re: No, you might not need to do another postdoc

Postby A.Tyrol » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:20 pm

Hi Ana,

I don't think you are posting anything new here. Postdocs know that very well. The reason scientists are doing one postdoc after the other is not because they want to get more experience so that you can get more effective worker drones. The reason is that the current economical situation is so awful, that many scientists have no other choice but to do a postdoc! What should they do instead? If the only choice you have is to do another postoc or be unemployed, then of course it is smarter to do another postdoc!

Most research labs nowadays have understood the system: hiring a postdoc is cheap, hiring a research scientist is expensive. Both can do exactly the same work. It's that simple.

Therefore soon there will be more and more postdocs. According policy is already being put into practice in many research labs in the world, and I think insiders are aware of this trend already. "Postdoc" is just a designation for a certain contractual status in a company or research institute with respect to salary and how easily one can be laid off. A postdoc in reality has nothing to do with "training" and believe me, postdocs know that.

I wish less HR managers would think like you, and more companies would give scientists a chance who had many years of postdoc experience. You know, having many 1st-author publications in respectable journals is actually often a sign that these are very smart scientists who produce results, even if they had many years of postdoc experience.
User avatar
A.Tyrol
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:48 pm

Re: No, you might not need to do another postdoc

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:52 pm

A.Tyrol wrote:Hi Ana,

(clip)

I wish less HR managers would think like you, and more companies would give scientists a chance who had many years of postdoc experience. You know, having many 1st-author publications in respectable journals is actually often a sign that these are very smart scientists who produce results, even if they had many years of postdoc experience.


Hello A.

Ana is not unusual in her thinking. She is very unusual in what she "gives back" however. There just aren't that many hiring managers in industry who have the staying power to remain on this site and listen to the carping that goes on amongst many on the forum. Let's not give her a hard time. She's trying very hard, and usually succeeding, to help people understand the issues of transition.

When a person does too many years of postdoc, it says that they are attempting to become a faculty member. Industry does not want to hire people who have the intent to go somewhere else -- those who apply only as a "backstop." C'mon, this is like dating -- would you be comfortable having a significant other who you knew was only with you because they couldn't land that other guy or girl they had their eyes on? No way.

The sweet spot for industry, in terms of years of postdoc, is much less than it is for academia. So when you pass that sweet spot and go on for additional years of postdoc training, you are putting a big label right on your CV that says "Wannabe Faculty." That's not going to get you anywhere in a company.

Dave
“I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment, it takes place every day.” - Albert Camus
User avatar
Dave Jensen
Site Moderator
 
Posts: 7760
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Re: No, you might not need to do another postdoc

Postby A.Tyrol » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:57 pm

The sweet spot for industry, in terms of years of postdoc, is much less than it is for academia. So when you pass that sweet spot and go on for additional years of postdoc training, you are putting a big label right on your CV that says "Wannabe Faculty." That's not going to get you anywhere in a company.


Certainly, I agree. However what was originally claimed is that scientists do postdoc after postdoc because they apparently desire more training.

As I have tried to argue in my reply, there is a current trend for research institutes of all kinds (but maybe not companies - yet!) to hire postdocs only, simply because they are cheapest. This is the reason why you see more and more scientists with 10+ years postdoc experience.

I realize the original advice is well-meant from a HR manager perspective but you certainly don't tell a postdoc anything new by telling him he doesn't need any more training.
User avatar
A.Tyrol
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:48 pm

Re: No, you might not need to do another postdoc

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:36 pm

A.Tyrol wrote:

I realize the original advice is well-meant from a HR manager perspective but you certainly don't tell a postdoc anything new by telling him he doesn't need any more training.



Agreed, A!

By the way, really cool avatar. It looks like that ant is going off to work carrying a briefcase.

Dave
“I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment, it takes place every day.” - Albert Camus
User avatar
Dave Jensen
Site Moderator
 
Posts: 7760
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Re: No, you might not need to do another postdoc

Postby RGM » Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:50 pm

I believe there are some postdocs who think they need more training (be it for academia or for industry)).

Dave's mention of, paraphrasing here> "years of postdoc, makes people think you are on faculty path" is also true.

However, the other poster also made an accurate description. Unless the PhD is a trustfund baby, they need to support themselves. If they want to do research, and there aren't enough opportunities for "PhD-level Scientist", then the obvious choice is unfortunately "postdoc".

I understand the reality of "having to support yourself" and doing whatever it takes to do so. In those desperate situations, that's why we see some members in here asking if they can leave their PhD education off their resume. They would be qualified (on paper at least) for quite a few positions even in industry to some degree. But with the PhD on the resume, they are overqualified. Of course, who would explain such a long gap in time on their resume (I was meditating in Tibet, hah)

As many science techniques have become simpler over time, the need for a PhD educated person has dropped in industry to some degree in my opinion. Those positions are now occupied by BS or MS level people. I'm NOT knocking those people, I WAS one of those BS-level industry workers at one point in time.


Lastly, Ana is an EXCELLENT contributor here. I find her comments very useful. I also think it's important to remember that we are all reading text. There is no intonation, and it is easy to misinterpret a person's perspective when they post/reply. I know I have done that at times.

Just my 2cents.
"Some men see things as they are and say why, I dream things that never were and say why not"
"If you think research is expensive, try disease." - Mary Lasker
User avatar
RGM
 
Posts: 1088
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:32 pm

Next

Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests