I am fed up with getting rejections after rejection. I have applied to over 30 Postdoc positions and got just three interview invitations. I thought I did well in the interview consisting of 15-20 minutes presentation. However, for each of these, I never got the second interview call.

I don't know what I am doing wrong. These openings were quite a bit different than what I have done in my PhD and am doing now. But, I thought it natural to do work in slightly different topic than PhD work, so shouldn't the employers be more interested in my ability to do the job rather than whether I have done similar work before.

I don't know if I can get anything. For the past year I have been working with my PhD advisor as a postdoc due to issues in leaving the current place of residence considering covid and associated visa issues. But now as things are getting better, I want to move out to other places.

I am just not getting any positive response. I might just not be capable or might be too mediocre to get anything. I just want to roll up and cry. I have lost all motivation to study, work and write the pending papers.

Is there any way to know if I am doing something wrong or am I just unqualified for jobs?

I have applied is 20 industrial jobs as well, I got rejected from the only interview call I received.

I am just fed up.

  • 3
    You could try asking the three places you interview for feedback, if you haven't already. You probably won't get anything useful - everyone's afraid of saying the wrong thing and being sued - but you might get lucky and get something specific.
    – Rup
    Jun 7, 2021 at 10:38
  • 3
    I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. —Michael Jordan
    – jasmine
    Jun 7, 2021 at 10:40
  • 5
    You say: " shouldn't the employers be more interested in my ability to do the job rather than whether I have done similar work before", so let me ask the obvious: what are you doing to convince them that you can do the job, if you have not done it before?
    – Louic
    Jun 7, 2021 at 10:50
  • 5
    @jasmine unfortunately Michael Jordan does not apply here. You don't have the luxury of playing the long game. Jun 7, 2021 at 10:51
  • 1
    I feel the number 50 "positions applied" isn't that big a number. With so much competition around, I feel you should try to apply to a lot more opportunities.
    – Academic
    Jun 7, 2021 at 13:43

1 Answer 1


Times are hard in academia. There is little you can do but keep trying, but also evaluate your application materials from top to bottom to see if there is anything there that might be misunderstood. Talk to your letter writers, for example.

I finished my degree in very bad times (mathematics). I sent several hundred applications and got two offers for temporary positions, not even postdocs. I explored actuarial work, but hated the idea. The temp position I took ended in two years, during which I sent several hundred more applications and got one offer - from an essentially invisible place. I started a good teaching career there and after several years moved, with some more painful points, to a better position.

It wasn't the career I envisioned as a student, but it turned out to be rewarding. But there were few options at the time. Some of my contemporaries at graduation were pumping gas (yes, it was that long ago).

All you can really do is keep trying and make the best compromises for yourself. You can still think. You can have an active intellectual life. You can make enough money - somehow - probably. But the times are what they are. Wishing for better isn't going to change that. Keep your mind alive.

  • 1
    It's hard to predict the future. A friend of mine, years ago, was starting PhD work in Mathematics. The future looked bright, the American Mathematical Society was falling over itself with optimistic predictions for the job market in the four years, the huge shortage of mathematicians, etc. This was sometime round 1988. A few years later the Cold War ended, the academic and nonacademic job markets tanked, and there was a flood of excellent ex-USSR talent into the remaining tenure track positions. All you can do is take your best shot and go with it. Set your goals but don't be deluded by them. Jun 7, 2021 at 14:34
  • +1 for the two last sentences alone! Jun 7, 2021 at 15:03
  • 1
    "Some of my contemporaries at graduation were pumping gas" Or they lived in Oregon or NJ Jun 7, 2021 at 19:27

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