I am 31 years old, materials engineering PhD graduate in Canada. I completed my PhD last year and failed to secure a postdoc or industry position mainly because of my poor publication record. After graduation, I published 2 papers. So now, I have 3 first author and 1 co-authored publications from my PhD in decent journals.

Since May this year, I joined my PhD advisor for my postdoc and I have been working on different projects than my PhD's. I have been collaborating with groups in my department and other universities in Canada. My PhD advisor is great and offered me the position out of pity.

I have submitted two first author papers this year till now. Planning to submit 3 more (1 first and 2 co-authored) by the end of this year.

However, I don't feel good about what I am doing. I feel so incompetent since I did not get a good position last year and now am working with my PhD advisor which is considered a career suicide.

My advisor has ensured that the contract will be extended till the end of the next year. And I am hesitating to apply for postdoc or industry positions elsewhere as mostly I am afraid of getting rejected again and partly from covid situation.

I know I should be applying for positions aggressively. But I am not feeling the motivation to do so. I always wanted to be an academic. But now I feel that I am not cut out for it. I just don't have what it needs to be in research field. I am also not a good teacher.

There's so much I don't know and so much skillset to acquire that many researchers of my age and in my field of study are proficient in. I just feel that I am going to fail again in securing a position.

I just don't know what to do. Should I be applying for positions if not much has changed since then? Please advise what you think about my situation. Thanks.

  • 7
    Not much has changed? But if I understood correctly, you have 5 more papers (published or submitted) since you applied before. That seems like a big change to me. What have you got to lose by applying? Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 11:50
  • Who have you had look over your letter and other materials? Have you tried getting a professional assessment of how you are presenting yourself in your letter and research statement?
    – Dawn
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 2:21

2 Answers 2


You should probably be applying but with a broadened scope. Times are tough, both generally in academia and due to the pandemic. What was true this year may not be true next.

The ease of getting a position in a given academic field varies fairly wildly over time. There are downturns and also good times. But, unless you want to give up and become an Uber driver, you need to keep looking.

But you would be wise to expand your search to other sorts of institutions that rejected you last time. Cast a wide net. In fact, you may need to keep trying for more than a year, given current conditions. And bring other resources to bear to help you. Make sure that you have a strong application, matched to requirements with good letters of support. Get, and take, advice from advisors and others who might be able to help.

Times will change, but it will take time for it to happen. Stay connected to your field as best you can and keep producing as is possible.


Yes. Things may have changed at their end.

BUT if you could not find a position in industry there is something more than your publication record that needs to be addressed.

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