I'm about a month away from my PhD defense, and my goal is to work in industry (I'm in medicinal chemistry and I've been doing high-throughput screen and in vitro inhibition assays of a particular enzyme). I started job searching in industry about a month ago, thinking that I shouldn't have problems finding suitable positions. However, as I've started searching and applying, I've noticed that a lot of the jobs in biopharma that are posted require things like mammalian cell culture work, transfection, genomics, immunology etc., which I don't have experience in. Therefore, I'm thinking that I may need to do a postdoc after all to gain experience in those areas - there's some very important skills that I'm apparently missing! Of course, if I get an industry offer, I'll go ahead and take it, but it seems like I may not be qualified for PhD-level positions (I'm open to taking a MS-level position but most employers would consider me "overqualified"). But it's a month before my defense and it's rather late in the game when it comes to postdoc apps. My advisor can only fund me for another 2.5 months (end of June). How much trouble am I in in terms of getting a postdoc that is rather significantly different from my PhD? How long of a gap is acceptable to potential postdoc PIs?

  • 5
    Why do you need to do a postdoc to learn those skills? Can't you learn them in an industry job for 3x the salary? Apr 18, 2023 at 8:49
  • 8
    Job descriptions are often “wish lists” -apply anyway!
    – Dawn
    Apr 18, 2023 at 14:12
  • @astronat I’m planning on applying to both industry jobs and postdocs at this point. I would very happy if industry were to train me, but I’m not sure if they’d be willing to when they have many other candidates who already know those things. I’ve also heard that not all postdoc jobs pay the NIH minimum - some pay higher than that (usually ones not at academic institutions) and I’d be interested in those.
    – 8263xiao
    Apr 18, 2023 at 15:32
  • @8263xiao On some occasions, professors can redirect their funds from supporting a Research Assistant graduate student to supporting a postdoc. So if you see an announcement of graduate studentship in the area of your research -- give it a try: talk to the professor and enquire if (s)he can spend those dollars on a postdoc. This may work out. May 22, 2023 at 19:38

2 Answers 2


I started job searching in industry about a month ago

I am not familiar with your individual situation, but for any job search I would recommend allowing a minimum of three months. If you expected to find a job within one month then you would be in very bad trouble. Keep in mind that a job application often waits a month to be read and a job offer often takes a month to be approved by an employer.

The content of a job ad is not an accurate predictor of the qualifications of the person who is hired.

Look up the profiles of people who have the job you want. That will get you data, as opposed to opinions.


How much trouble are you in: that really depends on what country you are looking for postdocs in. Positions open up at different times in different regions. For me, the academic year starts in September, so there are lots of postdoc positions being posted now.

However, if you want to work an industry job, then you are far better off just applying for them. Your skills are transferable, and what you don't know you will learn on the job. Your ability to learn quickly is more important than what you have already learned, especially when you are going to be applying for more junior positions anyway.

Don't be intimidated. Just go for it and most importantly, be open to change.

  • 2
    Not my field, but I suspect that the big industrial players (e.g. the Pfizers) will have structured training schemes available to fill in any skills gaps, whereas startups (and indeed postdocs) tend to talk about "hitting the ground running" and be stricter about looking for people matching their exact requirements.
    – Lou Knee
    Apr 22, 2023 at 11:48
  • I'm in the US. I get tons of conflicting advice over what to do. I'm currently applying to industrial positions but will be sending out postdoc apps in the coming week. I'm especially interested in postdocs in which I work with potential therapeutics in cells and/or ex vivo, which will provide a good bridge towards more biology-oriented industry positions (who tend to prefer those with postdocs anyways, or so I hear). So yes, I'm trying apply to both since my end goal is industry; it's just what I can get with the current market and what skills I need training for.
    – 8263xiao
    Apr 22, 2023 at 16:46

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .