I am currently concluding my PhD in England and I’d like to do a postdoc preferably in the US or Canada. I’d like to know:

Does it make sense to contact the supervisors when I find an interesting project or should I only act upon explicit job advertisements?

  • Computational biology/ Genetics! – RJF Feb 11 '18 at 17:16
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    What does your supervisor say? – astronat Feb 11 '18 at 17:33
  • As this site follows a strict question-and-answer format, there should be only one distinct question per question. I therefore took the liberty to remove all but your first question. You can ask them separately, but before you do, please check that they haven’t been asked already. – Wrzlprmft Feb 11 '18 at 18:22
  • They were all related to one single question! – RJF Feb 11 '18 at 19:29
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    Another very common way is depended on your current adviser. If he has some strong connections and he is willing to help you, you will most likely get a relevant position. – dodo Feb 11 '18 at 20:01

Absolutely you should, many positions aren't advertised and it could be your skills are just what the other group needed. Make sure you go for a quality over quantity approach, and really tailor each application to the group you are applying to. A well thought out cover letter (checked for spelling and grammar) and a well formatted and targeted CV puts you in a favourable position. A good approach is to send an application by post as well as by email; you will really stand out doing this. Talk about what you what you like in the group, your current situation, and how you think you would contribute to the group's research. In terms of funding, if you have some already great, if not, research what you would be eligible for and open the possibility of the pair of you developing an application together.


I advise against it. In my research group (social sciences), we have post-doc opportunities, but we have very targeted searches and only consider candidates when positions are open. I receive lots of unsolicited applications throughout the year. Many are not remotely close to our area of research, so it seems to be a SPAM-based approach. The only time I think it might make sense is if you brought funding with you, and the post-doc was relevant to the broader work being done within that research group. That might be attractive to a research group when a funding source is not immediately available to hire a post-doc.

If you are interested in a given University / research group, you may consider reaching out to see whether post doc opportunities are on the horizon. That will likely be a better use of your time.

  • Hi Brian, thanks for your comment? What do you mean by "reaching out"? Does this mean face to face encounter or a one liner enquiry through email? – RJF Feb 12 '18 at 9:53
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    This may be field specific, as in my field it is quite normal to reach out with non-spam, personalized emails to academics about having positions open. Most people react positively, even if they do not have money for hiring. Perhaps the fact that in Social Sciences funding is likely to be less common than in e.g. engineering leads to spammy behavior – Ander Biguri Feb 12 '18 at 10:05

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