Timing...Looking for a postdoc

Aug 08 2012 Published by under Grad School, Postdoc

How close to the end of your graduate career should you be looking for a postdoc and when have most folks usually secured a position by.  A year before graduation, a month before?

20 responses so far

  • TheGrinch says:

    6-7 months prior to graduation, and graduate only when the position is secure.

    • odyssey says:

      Although in principle a good tactic, in practice you need to keep in mind that when you graduate isn't entirely up to you.

      • Genomic Repairman says:

        Very true, my committee previously discussed that I am approximately a year out and I'll have a better fix on my timeline in my next meeting in a few months.

  • The Lab Mix says:

    As I come up on my final year here, this is very much on my mind.

  • Pat says:

    I started to look for my postdoc about a year before graduation.

  • kcat/Km says:

    The timeline I was given by my advisor and used was 12 months before you think you can graduate identify your list of potential top post-doc labs. Spend a month or so working up your application materials then apply for positions around 8 to 10 months before you want to graduate. Interview around 6 months before. Then get everything done once you have the job.

  • I started emailing people about a year before I would finish my PhD, that way I had interviews scheduled about 7-8 months before finishing. To some people that seemed really early because they weren't sure about funding yet, but to me it seemed appropriate given that I needed a visa and both husband and I needed to find a position. A girl in my current lab is looking for post-docs even though she won't be leaving here until 2 years from now due to her husbands constraints.
    Also: good luck looking for postdoc positions! I really enjoyed figuring out what I wanted and where I wanted to go!

  • Putting out feelers about a year in advance can't hurt.

  • BugDoc says:

    If your committee says you are about a year out, you should start looking now. The timeline described by kcat/Km is good.

  • chall says:

    I started putting feelers and looker out about a year in advance, maybe a little more since I was going to these conferences and wanted to get to know people in certain labs that I knew did things I found interesting.

    That said, I knew when my date was up due to strict time limits where I did my gradstudies... if I would have my degree at the time, not so much. (you can keep working on the writing, just not getting any money.)

    So, I didn't go to interviews until after my defense (but I set them up before) - partly because I was freaking out about completeing it all and I did have some manuscripts to finish after my defense (although, without being employed by the department.... but that was not unusual where I did my studies). Then I got invited, got some offers, decided, money was alreday there and I started after that. That meant of course that I was not as "independent" since the project plan was sortofwritten for the first year, but it made it way easier to shift into a new line of research with some start up.

  • Zuska says:

    My advisor suggested I wait until my husband had secured his postdoc as it was often much simpler for the wife to find something when she knew where her husband was going. If you are married, maybe you can wait till your spouse finds something?
    /end bitter memory rant

  • Dr. O says:

    If you're about a year out, I'd start thinking about who you'd want to work for, get a preliminary list together, and talk to your mentor(s) about that list and who they think would be good to look at. I think I ended up sending out letters ~6-7 months before I actually defended, and interviews were about 2-3 months before the defense.

  • me says:

    what about getting all the papers out?.....i too am about 8-10 months away from graduating.....but am worried about contacting people too early before my cv is inflated with another 2 first-author and 1-2 co-author papers i have in the pipeline....it's especially troubling to me since i need to get the f*&% outta this field to head to greener pastures but dont have anyone to provide any help with introductions in the field i need to break in to..so i've been truckin on trying to get at least the first author papers submitted before i have to go to the meeting n start making a fool of myself....any advice?

    • Genomic Repairman says:

      You can always put the papers on your CV as in preparation and send a draft of the manuscript (provided you have your PI's blessing) to show you are actually trying to publish and GTFO. As far as breaking into a new field, I guess you need to really read up on it and approach PI's with the idea that you aren't an expect in your field but you want to learn more about it and your current skill set could be complementary to their research program.

      Going to meetings helped me greatly. It seems strange but I have had much success walking up to a PI and saying, "That was a nice talk or I'm really interested in your poster." Then the conversation has played out in an organic matter and you can gauge their interest in your and your real interest in what they do. Just don't do the mistake I've seen other trainees do where they rush up to a PI at a conference with a their CV clutched in hand desperately giving off the "hire me" vibe. Play it cool.

  • gerty-z says:

    I started looking about a year out. I also changed fields pretty dramatically. I did a fair amount of networking and such to get familiar with my new field. I don't think that it matters (that much) if your papers are out yet. If the folks you contact get letters they will learn what you have done based on what folks say about you. I think too many folks delay too long because of this and then it can delay their ability to get into a lab. In some labs, you have to get in the queue early to make sure there is space/money for you.

  • Dr 27 says:

    I wish I'd asked these questions way before, when I was a grad student. Of course, I didn't count on the economy imploding, which made things even harder. I graduated in July of 2009 and a year and a half before, my boss had come to me with plans to have me out of the lab by December (we clearly didn't have a clue to my first, first author paper would take a bit of time to get out the door, even though when we did, we only had minor revisions and was accepted a month after submission). All that said, I was afraid of looking for a PD lab way beforehand, so I left it until the end, and I only went on two interviews (and an informal one) in March of '09. Had I done my homework properly, I would have started 8-12 months in advance, contacting potential labs (without the clear desperation I had in March of '09), going on interviews, demanding that my boss send me to one more interview rather than having her present everything I'd done (i have this weird suspicion that my boss was afraid I'd join a competing lab (they were all in parts of the country I didn't want to move) and spill all our beans (she's rather protective of her data and her lab). I did get a PD position, mostly on the recommendation of another prof I was friends with. I wish I'd gone to her with these questions. Instead, I did things my own way and you know what happened.

    Timing is everything, this also gives you a chance to identify potential sore sports and avoid them and maybe even make friends with the future lab personnel to see if the boss is an ogre or not. Also, it gives you time to prepare for PD training grant apps and get them out the door and hopefully in place by the time you're in your PD.

  • Bashir says:

    I started making my wish list about a year before I wanted to graduate. Wanted to be the operative word. I also started hitting the conference circuit hard. My last year of grad school was probably the most conferences I've been too. I got the position maybe 6 months before I actually graduated. Though it seemed closer. I got the job in maybe late October and was there working by June.

    Regardless of where you apply, it's always good to talk to folks about what your doing, the dissertation and what not.

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