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I graduated with my PhD in biomedical science in December 2017. I went on to do a postdoc fellowship that lasted for 3 years. This time overlapped with the pandemic + me losing my father during the pandemic, so i was unfortunately unable to get any meaningful publications.

I attempted to do a career pivot into data science. I learned python and even signed up for a bootcamp from October 2021-Jan 2022. I even landed a position as a Product Analyst for a midsized software company.

However, the job was a bit of a deadend. I didn't get to expand my coding skills the way i wanted, and was laid off in May 2023 due to financial restructuring. That said, it was beneficial to me in that i figured out i wish to stay in science and apply my newfound coding skills to cheminformatics.

So now I really want to go back and do a 2nd postdoc in computational medicinal chemistry and computer aided drug design. Most of the positions I've looked at in Industry and academia have a five year post grad year cutoff. My position is especially precarious because i am in my early 40s and haven't been in a research lab since 2020. I have several projects im working on to keep my skills up, but my current job search has lead to nothing but deadends, even when utilizing my networks and academic connections.

How would you suggest I move forward? Is it still possible for me to get a 2nd postdoc this late in the game? Or would it be better for me to try to stay in analytics and give up on science?

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  • Have you been applying for positions in computational bioinformatics etc at research hospitals and other companies? Have you talked to folks in those roles? You say “positions I’ve looked at”…
    – Dawn
    Aug 23, 2023 at 17:27
  • Yep. I haven't made it past applicant tracking systems and often get replies of "we decided to go with other candidates". I thought that going back and doing another postdoc would give me the additional training i needed in order to gain more experience.
    – ACMcQueen
    Aug 29, 2023 at 17:55
  • Yeah, that is not how you get a job. You almost always need to reach out to the potential future manager as well, as long as your profile isn’t totally obviously a fit. Until you have done that and had actual conversations with real people who hire for these roles, I would not do another post-doc.
    – Dawn
    Aug 29, 2023 at 22:12
  • Most of the announcements on LinkedIn and other job application sites do not list the contact information for the hiring manager or the person I'd be working for. That said, I will do this for the few I see where the person is listed. For the times I did reach out, I didn't get a response.
    – ACMcQueen
    Aug 30, 2023 at 23:04
  • I think you can do basic googling and linked in searching to identify the person as well.
    – Dawn
    Aug 31, 2023 at 22:00

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Yes, you can still land a postdoc, no matter how long ago you did your PhD, and even if you had a pivot to industry.

There are some countries, e.g. Germany, where government-sponsored postocs have a limit on how long ago you got your PhD. But for the rest of the world, "postdoc" just means low-paid job for overqualified people with a PhD who insist staying in academia. This is not to say that you should not do a postdoc. I did two and then moved on to the tenure-track. But other people are happy staying in postdocs for a long time, and that includes a friend of mine who died of old age (hearth attack) as a postdoc. Some see postdocs for what they are, technical positions, and still figure out that it's a good job compared to the alternatives. After all, in the US almost all jobs are "hire at will", which in practice means "fire at will." In that sense, the transient nature of the postdoc just makes it a job like every other job.

There are no guarantees that a postoc job will turn into a permanent academic position, but you probably already know that.

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  • The 'five year post grad year cutoff' in most cases is not a hard or even legal requirement but more a nice to have. Not satisfying it will reduce your chances but definitely not preclude you from getting an offer.
    – quarague
    Aug 24, 2023 at 12:05

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