I am a fresh PhD graduate looking for a job. Is it a good idea to write directly to professors/group leaders, asking if there are any job openings in their group? If yes, how long/detailed such email should be?

I haven't published any papers during my PhD so I feel that my chances of getting a postdoc position are pretty slim. I would like to start somewhere as a research assistant to gain some experience, make connections with people, etc. I know that quite often RA positions are not advertised because professors just offer them to their own PhD students.

  • There is nothing wrong with unsolicited/ initiative applications in any context (not only academia). You just will need more frustration tolerance, because the chance to be successful is way slimmer than if applying for a posted job offer. Other than that, I would always say there is nothing to loose (and you don't need to gain a lot, just one position).
    – skymningen
    May 8, 2017 at 8:11

2 Answers 2


Your question is rather vague -- what does "is it a good idea" mean? If you're asking if you can write to professors? Sure; there's nothing to lose, and there may be people looking for lab technicians. (I've been in this situation of looking for someone to hire in the past.) Go for it! If you're asking if it's likely that you'll get a positive response: no, for all the reasons you state.

As for how long/detailed such an email should be: you should succinctly (in a paragraph or two) state your skills and goals and possibly point out abilities that are particularly useful for the group you're writing to. Attach a clear CV.

I should point out that the statement "I haven't published any papers during my PhD" is rather worrying, and it may be a good idea to explain this when writing. Good luck!

  • Better still: don't mention the lack of publications in the cover note (body of email). Let's get them intrigued first. May 7, 2017 at 21:06

This is a very vague question, but I had few friends with similar experience who used some tricks:

1- Do some deep research about the groups you wish to join, see if you can define a project which they have an interest in and you have some expertise in.

2- Try groups which seem to be rich. such groups have a higher interest in recruiting people who are defining new exciting projects.

3- Ask around and check if you can find someone who knows someone who knows someone...

Details of email depend on you. You could start by pointing out a seemingly challenging area(yet not too challenging) in their research field and mention how you project would yield probable developments in this area. Afterward, mention in one or two paragraphs your background and abilities and attach a detailed CV and other documents which you find essential.

  • Some great ideas here! Can you do some proofreading? May 7, 2017 at 21:06
  • @aparente001 Sorry the academic language I usually work with is not english :) is the english I used too broken?
    – Prelude
    May 8, 2017 at 7:28
  • 1
    Well, for starters, let's look at the first phrase: "This ia a very vague questions" -- are you sure you can't find anything to fix there?! May 9, 2017 at 4:12

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