Eek!

My present contract runs out this summer, so I’m looking for faculty jobs. So far two of the jobs I’ve applied for have been canceled, thanks to a lack of money. And this week I discovered how competitive the market is.


Not just the article in Nature about scientists thinking about leaving science, or the news that the AMNH was shedding jobs, including scientists (I have a friend working there, fortunately for her she was lucky). And then I received a letter telling me I hadn’t been shortlisted for one of the positions I had applied for. What surprised me was this:

We received nearly 800 applications for these positions from candidates at all faculty ranks working in almost every discipline of Biology.

800? Eek! A lot of kudos should go to whoever read through all 750+ applications. I’m intrigued to know how you go about filtering the pile: presumably they didn’t read all of the papers of the applicants. There’s a good chance they’ve made some mistakes, but that’s inevitable when you have so much paperwork to sift through.
P.S. Anyone got a permanent position free for an ecologist/evolutionary biologist/statistician? Have Beast, will travel.

About rpg

Scientist, poet, gadfly
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8 Responses to Eek!

  1. Maxine Clarke says:

    You could always try applying to be a Nature journal editor, Bob (if things get really desperate, that is ;-) ).

  2. Bob O'Hara says:

    I can’t see Nature getting that desperate.

  3. Jennifer Rohn says:

    Bob
    I used to be involved in a lot of recruitment when I was an editor, and I’m sure the general principle holds for science: if you are one of hundreds, your cover letter must grab. In the first round, that may be all that is ever viewed. So load it up with confident assessments of your competence, including concrete examples (a one-liner description of your most recent stellar paper, for example). Makes sure your enthusiasm shines through – not just general enthusiasm, but highly specific enthusiasm for the job in question. It’s amazing how many candidates seem really vague about why they want a particular position, and nothing is a greater turn-off. Do your homework, tailor your letter to the employer, make it sparkle with confidence.
    Once you make it through the first triage round, your CV can speak for itself. Just make sure it has a chance to be heard.

  4. Lee Turnpenny says:

    Hey, come to Southampton and help me with my stats! Second thoughts, I doubt you’d like the jewel of Blighty’s south coast (Ouch! my tongue) after Helsinki, which I remember as a very nice place when I visited (but that was back in ’92).

  5. Cath Ennis says:

    I may be in a similar situation in November, except tied to one specific geographical location. Good luck Bob, and maybe try putting a photo of the Beast on the front of your CV.

  6. Bob O'Hara says:

    Hmmm, perhaps I could use his over-the-shoulder pleading look.

    Please let me go outside and play with the birds
    Thanks for the advice, Jenny. My cover letter is something that needs a bit of work anyway, so I’ll give it my full attention for the next application.

  7. Henry Gee says:

    Jenny’s advice is spot-on. One of the problems we Brits have is a natural self-deprecation, but this cuts no ice with recruiters. This lesson came home to me a few years back when I was offered a sabbatical position at a prestigious US university, attracting a very generous stipend ($31000 for three months gentle graduate-seminar teaching, with an adjunct research position thrown in, no obligation to publish, just have fun).
    My academic sponsor asked me to send him my CV so he could edit it, and so I did. When he sent it back, I hardly recognized the paragon described therein as myself, it seemed so over-hyped. But when I looked more closely I found that every word was true – my sponsor had simply wrung every drop he could out of it to maximise the effect. And I got the job.

  8. Elizabeth Crone says:

    Eveliina’s leaving in August, so I’ll probably be looking for a new lab manager. I sincerely hope you have better options (and a sense of humor).
    :-)