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There are some well-known universities, which I considered applying for several positions at each school (as a recent Ph.D. graduate). The potential problem is that, at each school, some of the positions of my interest are true research positions (either postdoctoral, or research associate), but some are staff positions, despite being closely related to teaching and/or research, i.e., teaching and research assistant (or manager) for education technology platforms (course development), graduate program institutional research (which includes data analysis) and some others.

While I certainly would strongly prefer a true research position, today's tight competitive environment forces me to approach the situation pragmatically, rather than with cautious optimism (my circumstances additionally push me in that direction - I don't have time to apply first to research ones and wait for response, before applying to the staff ones). Therefore, I am thinking about applying to all positions that I see fit, regardless of whether they are true research of staff ones.

Questions:

1) are there any significant reasons against applying to both types of positions simultaneously;

2) will simultaneous applications hurt my chances to be hired on pure research positions?

  • I think you'd hurt your chances for both types of positions, but in particular for the research positions. In research we want people who are passionate about research and would be less happy in other roles (especially long-term). Someone who applies to all kinds of positions comes across as desperate or as not caring what they have to do as long as they get paid. – Roland Jun 26 '15 at 11:38
  • @Roland: It is sad that such a smart person, as you, cannot read between the lines. I mentioned circumstances that prevent me to wait, thus, one could imagine that it is indeed due to serious life circumstances. Yes, I am desperate (to a degree) at the present time and I don't think it is a sin or that I should be ashamed of it or that makes me any less passionate about research than you (or anybody else for that matter). My educational resilience during a long period of time and consequent achievements, despite extremely difficult situations, IMHO prove that. (to be continued) – Aleksandr Blekh Jun 26 '15 at 19:01
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    You seem to be under the impression that I have judged you. I haven't. You may be desperate and even have good reasons for that. Still, you don't want to give that impression when looking for a job. Broad interests are fine if that's what a job asks for. Many jobs don't. Can't say more since I don't know any specifics. – Roland Jun 26 '15 at 21:11
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    If you send applications to multiple institutions/companies that's a totally different situation and even expected. The assumption there is that you are applying more or less for the same role. Applying to different institutions implies that you are a valuable potential employee and they need to compete with others to get you. It doesn't imply that you would take just any job. – Roland Jun 26 '15 at 22:09
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At the same school, it would depend on how closely related those two positions are and how likely the same person is to see the same positions.

Let's say you are a biomedical scientist. Let's say that Professor Smith is hiring a postdoctoral researcher in your field, but the Center for Awesome Research that he works in is also hiring an administrative research role (let's say a grants coordinator) that you're interested in. The chances that Professor Smith sees both of those applications is significant, although how high it is depends on how involved in the administration of the Center he is. This could be bad. Professor Smith might think that you aren't really serious about research if you are applying for administrative roles. Likewise, the person hiring for that admin role might think you're only applying as a backup and that you really want to be a scientist. Net result is that you get neither interview.

(Now, of course, that might not happen; Professor Smith might not really care because you are excellent or reason that you are simply trying to keep options open; the admin position hiring manager may decide that this job is your true passion. Or neither may see the other's application. But it's a risk.)

Now, let's say that you apply for a biomedical research scientist position at the medical school but you also apply for a position in institutional research at the main campus. The chances that the hiring managers for those two positions will find out that you applied for the other one is probably really close to zero. So that would probably be ok.

In general, you should probably try to apply to those admin/staff positions at different institutions from where you apply for the scientist roles, but applying to admin/staff positions that are pretty separate from the science roles in terms of administrative structure would probably be fine.

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  • Excellent advice - exactly what I was looking for (+1 and accept). I appreciate your time and effort for writing this answer. – Aleksandr Blekh Jul 20 '15 at 22:34

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