I recently graduated and my co-chair offered me a postdoc position which I haven't started yet. I first thought he was trying to help me. Now I am getting other good offers from others.

I received a very good postdoc offer and was in a very good lab. I told my co-chair, that I will leave if I get that one. After the interview, the main PI told me that he will contact my references and will get back to me within one week. Later, he sent me an email saying he offered the job for someone else. Before the interview, he was writing me and even shared some confidential information even before they released them through the HR.

The way he handled my application gave me very high hopes on getting the job. Now I suspect that my co-chair who was known to my future PI changed the post-doc hiring committees view of me. He has given me very good reference letters in the past for other academic positions that I can start in several months if I was selected. I am now confused, and not sure how to handle this supervisor. Any help/advice greatly appreciated!

  • 1
    I really wonder in what country and in what field you are. (But don't share it if you don't feel so.) I wonder about it becuase where I'm now, it's strictly forbidden to become a postdoc or get a full-time position in a place form which you have your PhD. So the best the supervisor can do is promote you to another good place, because it increases his karma in some sense.
    – yo'
    Feb 6 '14 at 16:05
  • 3
    This is kind of confusing. Could you edit your question to clarify which people are at which institutions, and who made what offers? You could give names to the people and institutions (X, Y, etc). Feb 6 '14 at 16:50
  • 11
    To be honest, there's nothing in your question to suggest malicious behavior. It's possible that you misread signals from the person you were hoping to work with and overestimated the chances of getting an offer. It's also possible you're right ! I guess it's hard to say what to do about your situation when it's not clear to me that the situation is as described.
    – Suresh
    Feb 6 '14 at 18:28
  • @tochez in which country do you reside. It is common to get a postdoc from the same institution as PhD in the US. RWK, unfortunately, this sometimes happens and a recent PhD grad that left our lab experienced the same problem. He is a VERY bright researcher with high potential and was applying to a postdoc at a competing lab, and I believe our adviser wanted him to stay. I'm not sure how to deal with it, but it does happen.
    – derelict
    Nov 14 '14 at 15:10
  • The question that comes to my mind is: did the OP accept the postdoctoral position offered by his/her advisor? In this case, it seems a little strange to be fielding offers from other departments. It is possible the OP's advisor simply told the other department s/he already has a job.
    – David Hill
    Nov 21 '14 at 20:51

This is a common reason why job references are normally asked from the former employers but not from the current employer. If the current employer would like to keep a specialist, adequate recommendations just cannot be provided because of the conflict of interest.

Try to get alternative recommendations. Maybe your work included cooperation with other laboratories, or maybe you had some more junior "intermediate" supervisor, or maybe you have worked along speciality at least part time? Suggest these people instead.

In the worst case, you may even ask for recommendation from another co-worker like you. Not very good yet better than nothing.

  • 10
    This doesn't seem applicable to academia. A recommendation from your PhD advisor is generally an absolute requirement for a postdoc, except in very unusual circumstances. Nov 14 '14 at 13:23
  • Do not remember anybody asking it for me, however, when applying. Even if I would have no difficulty to provide one.
    – h22
    Nov 14 '14 at 14:46
  • 1
    Really? When was this? In what country? Nov 14 '14 at 14:51
  • 5
    This answer seems reasonable on the face of it and may be applicable to a wide range of jobs, but it is distinctly contrary to how academia actually works. In academia, to apply for an academic job without a recommendation letter from anyone in your current institution is worrisome. To apply for a postdoc without a letter from your doctoral supervisor is just about the reddest of red flags. Nov 14 '14 at 17:12

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