I received some answers in this thread, but there are new ones that I would like to discuss with the academic community.

A little less than a year ago I received my PhD degree. By this time, my scientific interests had changed, so I decided to change my field of activity.

I found a scientific group that has extensive experience and material and technical resources in the area of interest to me.

Hypothetically, they could be a good starting point for me.

But the attempt to get to them was a failure.

According to the head of the group, today they have no open vacancies, and besides, I am not suitable either for the publications I wrote or for the proposed format of the job (they are located in a neighboring city, and I offered to work part of the time remotely, and part of the time to come to them).

And of course, I was ready to start from the basics with the starting salary for a young specialist.

They just don’t want to hire me and it’s a vicious circle. To get to them, I need to develop some kind of base. And in order to develop a base, I need to get into a similar scientific group.

Has anyone encountered such situations? How to find a way out of them?

P.S. It turns out that the specialization of PhD still imposes restrictions on the scientist?

  • 9
    I don't see this as 'viscous' - there is no guarantee that you would fit a particular job at a particular place, period. You keep looking.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Apr 11 at 17:49
  • @JonCuster That is, is it worth continuing to search for a group that will hire me (probationary period and “credit” of trust to develop a background)?
    – ayr
    Commented Apr 11 at 17:52
  • 5
    In addition to the valid points made by others, let me add that it doesn't seem like a good idea to combine unsolicited inquiries about possible positions (which are in and of themselves ok) with special requests like "offering" (you mean requesting) to work remotely part of the time, especially if you have a weak bargaining position to begin with (i.e. you do not have a verifiable history of contributions to the relevant subject matter). Commented Apr 11 at 19:33
  • 1
    There are multiple issues being addressed, such as being turned down for a job, looking for the right fit, and professional communication, that are worth discussing, but the question should be more specific and the author should reframe based on the other comments in rewriting the post.
    – realkevlar
    Commented Apr 11 at 19:40
  • 2
    If you want to switch topics, you have to start where your expertise is and slowly "ease" yourself in the new directions. Best to go to a group which appreciates/needs your background and has an interdisciplinary outlook, from where you can slowly develop in the desired directly. It's a multi-year process. Commented Apr 11 at 20:14

3 Answers 3


There are two types of postdocs I hire:

(A) great scientists/engineers that could themselves be group leaders. As long as they have an interest in my group's work, I am not concerned about their specific background (within reason, and still broadly within the general field), but rather what unique things from their background they can bring to furthering my group's research (and also what they can learn while working with me). These are rare(r).

(B) solid technicians who can fill a technical role in support of a project. If you aren't a superstar but have the background knowledge to contribute to a project, you are in. Not everyone who postdocs can be faculty (statistically, even most from type A mentioned above won't get a chance either). Most people I have worked with are this category.

So I guess the question is, what do you bring to a team? Did you set yourself up with a highly marketable CV that opens many doors? If not (yet), then perhaps a better fit for your current skills may be the way to go as you hopefully build up a strong profile that will help you leverage a more desired position. Go be a solid Type B postdoc somewhere, there's no shame in that.

As for repetitively trying to get into one group, that would just be a bit awkward. Take the rejection and move on.

  • Thank you for your answer. I position myself as an interdisciplinary specialist (working at the intersection of technical and natural sciences). Of course, I am not a great scientist/engineer or a genius, but I think that it would not be difficult for me to master the necessary tools and perform the corresponding work, while simultaneously building a set of basic knowledge. And of course, I will look for other opportunities. In the group I wanted to join, there are still too many “pure” astronomers (including the group leader).
    – ayr
    Commented Apr 12 at 4:28
  • Then you need to make it evident that what you bring has value and that your background is strong enough to support it. It's a competitive market.
    – R1NaNo
    Commented Apr 12 at 12:52

It sounds like you were turned down for a job. This happens. It may happen many times before you find a job. That is normal.

The next step is not to discover some convoluted multi-stage process to get into this group. Attempting this is very not normal and will likely permanently damage your relationship with the people involved and may even lead to them warning others about your not-normal behavior.

The next step is to apply for different jobs with different people.

  • Everything is just like that. But as I understand it, I should just continue looking for a group that will hire me (a probationary period and a “credit” of trust to develop a background are possible)?
    – ayr
    Commented Apr 11 at 17:52
  • 7
    @dtn I don't know what you mean by a credit of trust to develop a background. You should apply for jobs where 1) You have something useful to contribute, and 2) You're interested enough in the position to show up.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Apr 11 at 17:55
  • 6
    @dtn - and that holds for pretty much any post-doc position one applies for. Or any position you apply for after that. But focusing on one and only one position with one group is quite likely to fail, just on random odds alone.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Apr 11 at 17:58
  • 8
    @dtn If you have nothing to contribute, no one will hire you. You need to apply to jobs that you have something to contribute to.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Apr 11 at 18:39
  • 4
    Echoing @BryanKrause's comments... and continuing: nowadays, hiring (and admissions) are competitive, intending to have safeguards so that no one has a magical inside track because of irrelevant features or "connections". So you'll be competing for such positions against people who do have demonstrable credentials... (and, in academe, there are always more qualified people than available positions...) Commented Apr 11 at 19:03

I'm not sure exactly what you expected. You applied for a job for which you have an interest but no experience to show for, and they said "no". The fact that you're willing to learn the skills may sometimes be enough, but more often than not, someone looking to hire somebody will want to hire somebody who can actually do the job, starting at day 1. They're not interested in hiring and paying a person who still has to learn what this is all about.

This leaves you with two options:

  • Spend some time unemployed (or while employed in a different) role to learn the new area and demonstrate that you have skills there.
  • Rethink your strategy and seek a job that matches your existing and demonstrated abilities.

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