I am struggling with my Post-PhD career. I am still looking for positions and I getting zero response. My advisor is giving me no leads and I don't know if she's even bothered about my career prospects. She has offered me a one year postdoc position in my current lab. Apart from that, there's no further help.

I don't know if a PhD advisor even cares for their students. I feel so unsupported and lost.

Edit: The problem is I work on a modeling technique and research area that's not in her expertise. I started the entire work and now she has other PhD students working on the topic due to the multiple papers I published. I have already staying around 6 years with her. My PhD went so long due to my own faults. Now I am absolutely lost and disillusioned.

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    I'm not sure it's fair to say that someone who has offered you a job is giving you "no leads" in your job search. For your longer term career development, if you take up that 1-year postdoc job, and if the university where you hold it is a reputable one, then the university will give you access to a team of people who are specialists in post-PhD career development to help and support you. But you may have to track down and engage with that team yourself, rather than waiting for your advisor to introduce you to them. Nov 7, 2020 at 0:25
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Nov 9, 2020 at 16:52

3 Answers 3


Your last sentence makes me think that the question you ask in the title may not be the question you're really interested in. If you feel lost, talk to people. Friends, family, professionals, whichever you feel most comfortable with, but get help.

How much does the future career of a PhD student matter to the advisor? The subsequent careers of the collective PhD graduates influence the attractiveness of the advisor to future PhD students. So it matters, but if the advisor has many successful PhD graduates on their resume, it is a matter of diminishing returns.

Beyond that, a good PhD advisor would feel a moral obligation to ensure their former students land somewhere nice. However, the current Covid situation makes the job market really rather difficult right now, so this is not entirely within the grasp of the advisor. Offering a postdoc is something that the advisor can control, so I can understand why this would seem like a reasonable solution to them.

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    The subsequent careers of the collective PhD graduates influence the attractiveness of the advisor to future PhD students. - More than that I would say students' academic careers can often be important in helping carry out the professor's research program.
    – Kimball
    Nov 8, 2020 at 2:30
  • Yeah, true, I hadn't considered that. So it's even more important than I sketched. Thanks for the contribution!
    – user116675
    Nov 8, 2020 at 13:37

Supervisor A always has 20 or more PhD students in their group, and time only for those who deliver stuff that can be published in a top-notch journal.

Supervisor B usually has less than 5, a door that is always open, and all the students have at least three manuscripts published in good journals by the time they defend their thesis.


Which do you think cares more about their students' futures?

Bonus question: which do you think prospective students will flock to? (The answer may surprise you.)


It seems that your advisor has not done a great job mentoring you in your post-PhD job search. It's typical for advisors to at least forward on job announcements to students on the hunt, and these tend to be pretty widely circulated. I'm a postdoc and I get emails like this asking me to forward on to good candidates, so even junior professors should have some leads.

I'm also concerned that you feel she doesn't seem bothered at all. That's a breakdown in either communication or in actual mentorship. Your advisor should care about you career (even if caring means telling you she doesn't think you should continue in academia). Doing nothing there is in my opinion not doing a good job.

She did offer you a postdoc, which is something, but you need some mentorship. I'd try talking to her about this to see if her lack of interest in your job search is intentional or just something she isn't on top of.

Sadly, while my opinion is advisors do have this obligation to their students, the academy has very little structure to hold advisors accountable to these standards (and in fact what standards apply to advisors are not talked about often and there is little widespread consensus).

There is vague incentive to treat graduate students well in order to attract talent to your group, but this is hardly enough to guarantee advisors will follow through (as many questions on this site demonstrate). Beyond that there's not much to ensure your advisor cares.

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    Sorry but advisors have no obligation to help students or postdocs with their careers. They have contractual obligations to postdocs, and academic obligations to their students, but no other obligation. Sure, some will help but to suggest it is an obligation is too strong. Nov 8, 2020 at 6:13
  • @ZeroTheHero I strongly disagree that advisors have no obligation to professionally mentor students. That doesn't mean a student will be a good fit for an academic career, but the professional development should be part of the education. PhDs on average do not provide enough financial value to offset the years of low pay. The system is just not moral if education and mentorship aren't being given to the grad students who provide a huge value to the university in producing research and teaching for extremely low pay.
    – Well...
    Nov 8, 2020 at 9:44
  • @ZeroTheHero I also think I provided plenty of wording to indicate this is my view of the obligation advisors have and the direction the academy should go, and I explicitly said there is no widespread consensus. Your comment and downvote seems to indicate that you think there IS widespread consensus against the idea that advisors are meant to be professional mentors as well, which is just not true and a poor characterization of the academy.
    – Well...
    Nov 8, 2020 at 9:52
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    (your post does not currently have a downvote, and if it ever did it was not from me). Mentoring students yes, and even mentoring former students once they have a job yes, but helping with careers is not mentoring. I agree with much of what you say, except the word “obligation”. The flip side of some of your observations is I have seen too many students implicitly waiting for their supervisors to find them a job. There are bad actors (students and faculty) on both sides of such situations. Nov 8, 2020 at 14:53
  • Some advisors are more engaged than others; some think that talented students ought to be able to find positions on their own, and will provide minimal direct guidance but strongly supporting former students when they apply. There are so many variables that one must sympathize with OP but at the same time realize the advisor cannot be judged on the basic of lack of applicant success. Nov 8, 2020 at 15:00

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