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Job Skills New PhD with a Weak Resume

  1. Jun 16, 2011 #1


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    Hello all,

    I received my PhD in a physical science field in December, and am currently 6 months into a 1-year (renewable) post-doc. I am unsure if I will remain in my current position at the end of this year, and am looking critically at my future career prospects. I find myself in the following predicament:

    My PhD career has thusfar resulted in one first-author publication. Two first-author publications representing the bulk of my doctoral research continue to languish on my advisors desk where they are likely to remain for the near (6-12 month) future. Graduate students in this group, myself included, did not attend conferences and thus I have practically no professional network or name recognition. My weak resume leaves me concerned that I will not be able to progress along my desired career path to become a PI or group leader without being forced to do a series of additional post-docs, a future I desperately wish to avoid.

    Progress on my current post-doc research is, by its nature, time consuming and I will surely not be able to meet abstract submission deadlines for next years big conference in my field. Thus, the chances to present my current project at a conference in the near future are also slim. My PhD advisor is adamantly against presenting unpublished work at conferences, so it is also unlikely that I can present my doctoral research in the interim while awaiting its submission for publication.

    If I decide to move on from my current project at the end of this year, what steps can I take to bolster my resume?

    Any experiences, perspectives, or advice you can share would be greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2011 #2
    Do your career goals connect to your dissertation or post doc work? If so, this could strengthen your resume.
  4. Jun 16, 2011 #3


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    If you've written and defended your PhD thesis, then it will likely be in the public domain anyway (i.e. in a university library), so I don't see why your supervisor is refusing to allow you to present it. You need to talk to him and tell him why it would really benefit you to publish these two papers that are sitting on his desk (though, it should be quite obvious to him!). You're right to want to get to conferences and present your work!
  5. Jun 16, 2011 #4
    You are going to need to network and in a bad way. Because your resume is not going to get bolstered enough in the next 6 months to make a big difference. Lets assume you had a couple quick papers you could write. That would take a month or so to write up those 2 papers. Lets even be generous and say it takes 3 months for each paper to make it through the editorial/referee process (that is really, really fast). Then it is usually another 2 months until publication. That is 6 months right there. So, your job is up and you really haven't bolstered your resume to help your job search in time.

    When you are talking about your advisor, is he your current boss also?

    When it comes down to it, to get to being a PI, you are going to have to do another few years of postdocs. I am 3 years out from my PhD and only now starting to write grant proposals. Couple that with the fact that the average PI only gets 1 in 3 proposals funded, means I still need to write another proposal this year (as I have written 2 so far) before I will be statistically likely to be awarded one.

    When it comes down to it, you need to go to WAY more conferences and network. You also MUST publish more if you want to put yourself on the track to be a PI or group leader in the near future. In addition, you need to push whoever is holding up your papers. How can you expect to be a group leader, if you are going to let one of your coauthors hold up your papers for 6 months.
  6. Jun 16, 2011 #5


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    Indirectly. The field I work in is broad, but transitioning between one subfield to another requires learning an entire new branch of physics. The subfield I work in is almost exclusively funded by defense agencies, so if I were to continue in this subfield I have a good idea who the players are. Unfortunately, in the long run, I fear for the continued funding of this subfield and want to transition to something more mainstream. It may require an additional post-doc to get my foot in the door in this new subfield, though I loathe the idea.
  7. Jun 16, 2011 #6


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    My thesis has a 2-year hold placed on its release, which is standard practice in my group due to the slow rate of publication. Ultimately, my advisor does not delegate responsibility well and as a result he works very long hours (needlessly, imho) yet remains perpetually swamped with responsibilities. I know my position in his 'queue', but am really unable to leverage any urgency to re-arrange his time management.
  8. Jun 16, 2011 #7


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    You're correct that it's unlikely that I can have any papers accepted for publication prior to commencing the job search even if submitted immediately.

    My post-doc is a fellowship in a government/non-academic setting under a different advisor. I have had the opportunity to submit a white paper, but will not be able to be a co-PI on a grant.

    Unfortunately, I am not in a position to push the past advisor to publish - since the research was funded on his grants, he has the right to control the publication contents.
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