Saturday, September 18, 2010
Female Science Professor has a post
up that makes me a little...paranoid. In a nutshell, she expresses concern as a PI that looks may be deceiving when it comes to hiring post-docs. In other words, someone's CV might be awesome, but people who've actually worked with this person might secretly let PI know that said post-doc is a lazy sack of poop. Or maybe PI will read into a passing comment made by said post-doc in an email and deduce that the post-doc might be a lazy sack of poop. As someone who is currently searching for a new post-doc home, I am hoping very much not to appear as a lazy sack of poop. I don't think
I am a lazy sack of poop, but what if someone somewhere is calling me a lazy sack of poop?
In the comments of FSP's post, Physioprof notes that "I receive multiple e-mails per week from people looking for post-doc positions, and I ignore the vast majority of them."
* This also has me worried, but as is PP's wont, the comment is without elaboration. What would make a PI not
ignore an email from a post-doc hopeful?
To date, I have sent out three emails to PIs with whom I'd like to do a 2nd post-doc. Generally speaking, the emails go as follows:Dear PI,
I'm writing because I'm interested in doing post-doctoral work in your lab. I'm currently wrapping up a post-doc with Famous Dude, during which I also worked with Other Famous Dude and Famous Dude #3. I studied blahdeblah. I read your recent paper on thingamabob, and I found idea X very exciting. I would love to follow up on this work by studying Y. I am trained in techniques ABC and need to learn D&E before becoming an independent investigator, which is why you are perfect for me. I've attached my CV to this email and would be happy to have letters of recommendation sent to you.
Am I doing anything wrong, here? I feel like someone who's recently gotten out of a long-term relationship and is back on the dating scene but has no idea how the kids do things these days. When I got my current post-doc position, it was all relatively casual and easy, so I'm not sure if other PIs like things to be more formal. I imagine, though, that PIs would not want a big long thing to have to read--they want to see my past PIs and what my pubs are, they don't need a full-scale analysis of their research. On teh Twitter today, several of my tweeps suggested that I send a hard copy letter, which I have to admit never occurred to me. It seems so...quaint, doesn't it? But at the same time, they have a point--perhaps the quaintness will get me the attention I need in what I'm sure is a sea of post-doc requests, the vast majority of which are being ignored.*
My first response came in less than 24 hrs. This PI was "very impressed with [my] credentials" and wanted to "seriously pursue the possibility " of me joining the lab, but he had to check some policy or something. Unfortunately, apparently I have too much experience for him to hire me as a post-doc; his institution mandates that I'd have to be hired as a Research Associate or whatever, which he cannot do. Boo. The other two have only had a day or two to sit on my letters, and I'm trying not to freak out too much that they're going to ignore me. If they do, to put it quite delicately, I am fucked.
*(I'll be honest, even I
have received a few emails from people wanting to do post-docs with me, but I always respond with a polite "I'm sorry, but I do not actually have my own lab?" or something similar.)
And for those who didn't already catch it, this post's title comes from this:
I completely understand that struggle, as I had some splainin' to do as well (and under less favorable conditions). Since you've been in your current position a while, you can likely make a case for how you want to expand the principles and techniques in your repertoire. Also if there's overlap between your past work and prospective lab's current work, highlight that as providing a foundation for the transition into their lab.