I am in a situation in which I need to (quickly) choose between extending my post doc for another year and taking a job that is not the job I hoped to find myself in. I've been a post doc for a couple of years, and I'm wondering whether I should take it, especially if next year's search is not going to yield anything more attractive. Is there any way to know/ask about whether a university might be planning to hire in a particular area? Have departments already made their decisions about next year's searches? Is a cold call/email to a desirable Uni frowned upon? And, last one, is there any indication out there that the economy has picked up enough that more searches might result next season? Thanks much.
Date: 17 Feb 2012 19:51
Number of posts: 12
RSS: New posts
If you don't want the job or would leave it quickly, then I'd say extend your post doc as really the job and school would be better served having someone that actually wants it so they don't have to redo the search in 2 years.
By and large this year was the most active in the last ~5 years. Perhaps next year will be more your style, but outside of having a functional crystal ball, there's no way to tell. Also do note that each year there are many many more applicants than jobs, so a good chunk of them will carry over with a bit more visiting / post doc experience.
Nothing will be gained by cold calling universities really as even if the jobs do exist next year, there's no guarantee you'd get it (in fact odds are you wouldn't.) so basically the question is, would you be willing to stay in this job for the forseeable future? If not, then continue in your post doc and hope for the best as next year you will be even more attractive. Good luck!
I suggest staying in your postdoc if you don't really want the faculty job. As for searches in the fall, you'll just have to wait and see what gets posted because I think it is too early to find out anything right now. I have noticed that the job market has been gradually improving since 2008, so hopefully that trend continues.
"basically the question is, would you be willing to stay in this job for the forseeable future? If not, then continue in your post doc and hope for the best as next year you will be even more attractive."
Don't be to quick to through away a bird in hand for the uncertainity of better prospects next year. You may well end up with nothing to show for it. Take if from one who was in those same shoe's once before. You may find that the grass is not greener on the other side of another year in a post-doc, and that your academic carreer prospects would have withered before you realized =0(
I would take the job because like someone else mentioned this year was the best in terms of numbers we've seen in a long time. If you didn't get a you ideal jobs this year, what would change in 8-10 months that would get you the job then? Take the job unless you really really dread the idea.
You have to ask yourself a few questions about this.
1) Would you not be happy in that job, or is it just that you wish you'd have something better? If the former, stay in the postdoc and work your tail off, but realize you might have NOTHING (though if you would not be happy with this job option, then maybe "nothing" is ok.) If the latter, then ask more questions -
2) Have you been on the market before, and if so how did you do? Do you have a sense of how well you would do in a future market?
3) Relatedly, how well did you do on the market this year? Were there a bunch of other jobs that were giving you a few bites here and there, or was this the only one that really gave you any attention? If the former, you should maybe risk it and go on the market last year. If the latter, you should realize that this might be as good as it gets.
I found myself in a similar situation this year, though without the postdoc to fall back on. I took a job offer, and it's not where I had hoped to go but I actually do think I would be happy there, which is why I took it. At the same time, I got additional activity on the market so I think that if I had decided not to take it I would have eventually been able to find something as good or better. But I worry about future years' markets. Maybe things are getting better, or maybe this is a fluke good year and things are not getting better.
I think that the first question is the most important one. Would you be reasonably happy in that job, even though you'd prefer something better?
I had asked my mentors the same question a few months ago. They all advised to take the position that you have for sure. If you find that you are really not happy there, you can always still apply for the desirable positions that you would have really wanted in the fall and leave if you land one of those more desirable positions next year. Basically, just because you take the current offer does not mean that you cannot be on the market again in the fall. But at least if nothing good comes up next year, you have something (instead of nothing). In this market, I would not decline a sure position, especially if you think that the position is good enough so that you could have enough time to work on improving your CV if you will want to move from there in the future.
Small add on, do note that if you do take the job this year you will likely NOT be able to be on the market next year (e.g. job you're taking now starts in august and it should take at least a year to figure out if you can't handle being wherever it is)
I will disagree with the notion that you can't go on the market immediately after taking a new job, though it is a lot of moving around and transitions costs, of course.
The other thing I forgot to mention for you to evaluate is how your record will change/improve in the fall from your postdoc experience this year. If you have some great things (i.e. papers) on the horizon, then wait a year.
I know two people this year who applied while postdocs last year and got NOTHING - no interviews or anything. They both applied again this year and each ended up with 5ish interviews at top R1s, and the offers have started to roll in for them as well. The difference is their papers from the postdoc work were starting to come out in top journals (and…as others said the market improved.)
You said you were possibly going to extend your current postdoc. This is a better situation to be in than one in which you have to find a new postdoc. But it REALLY depends on whether you think you will be a stronger candidate next year. Stronger means more than just one additional paper coming out (unless it's a really high impact one). If you have nothing to add to your c.v. this fall, then take the job, because you will actually be a weaker candidate next year if your c.v. doesn't improve over this year (they'll see the extra year and wonder.)