I got my Ph.D. in Chemistry in an eastern European country in 2008. The same year I got a lecturer assistant position in a university in the same country.
Working there, I got promoted, first to lecturer (2010), then to assistant professor (2012).
From 2012 I started thinking about moving to another country: academic salaries are quite low and the political situation became very unstable. I even started to send my CV to several positions, and there was one offer. But due to some management changes, I became a department head at the end of 2012, so I refused the proposal and stayed in the university. A year ago I became an institute head inside the university.
Every year from 2012, I thought that it's not the best year to leave my position because my resignation would put my department/institute into a difficult position. There is no open job market for academic positions in our country (due to the ridiculous salaries) and it would be difficult to find a replacement for a head of an institute in our city.
I can't say that the management position is very unpleasant for me, but I feel that I'm not a good fit, and I would prefer to stay in an assistant professor / professor position. Today I feel that the bureaucracy takes over and I can't get time to do research or to teach. When I raise these concerns with the management of our university, I get a response, like "When did life ever run smooth? You need to concentrate, and you would be OK. Now, take this new project."
Moreover, I can't openly submit my requests to positions in other universities I like, because it will require me to provide a set of recommendation letters. All colleagues who know me well and who can give me such a letter would be VERY surprised when they will find out, that I want to change my occupation. The sphere of chemistry academia in our country is very small, everyone knows everyone.
So, what should I do next?
- Should I try to make an open statement to the university head that I think the position is not for me and I want to leave? It would be a very tough conversation, I would become a "lame duck" in the university without any guarantee of finding a "job of my life". Also, this conversation would be very unspecific, because I have no other proposals. From the other side, then I would be able openly to ask my colleagues to provide a recommendation letter for me.
- Should I try to find another academic position without informing the management? But I don't know how to provide a good set of recommendation letters then: people would start talking about my activity, and it would become public.
- If I send a CV to an assistant professor/professor position, should I mention, that I am a head of an Institute? I'm afraid that it can raise a lot of questions like "why do you want to downshift from such a good position to become a teacher/researcher".
- Maybe there is something that I am missing?