In my last post, Postdoc-ing again: Part I I wrote about how I had started looking for a second postdoc position and had failed to get the job after being interviewed. So, to continue, I decided to keep looking. In fact, my PhD advisor suggested I try all the big names as well. I thought, why not, as I really had nothing to lose.
My strategy was two-fold. I decided to include my current university’s name in the subject line. The place I work at right now has some prestige associated with it and I decided to use it in my favor. This I thought would give some authenticity to the email and compel the reader to at least click on it. The second part of the strategy was to write a very good cover letter, something I’ve done before as well. I tried to incorporate at least a sentence about how my skills would be useful for the respective projects in the lab. Of course, this strategy is not something novel, but for the first time in my life I started getting responses from some accomplished faculty placed at good universities. Most of these responses were negative stating that they didn’t have funding, or that they were not hiring, but the replies more often than not suggested that they had liked my CV and wished me the best. This definitely meant that my cover letter and CV were being read which encouraged me to keep searching.
Eventually, I was asked for a Skype interview with a Professor from an Ivy League University. This interview went really well towards the end of which he asked me to come visit his lab. I was excited. I arranged for a visit in January. In the mean time, I received another call for an interview at a National Lab. I visited both these places, spending the days giving a formal 1 hour presentation which lasted much longer than that and discussing ideas with my potential employers and lab mates. At both these places, I was asked some difficult questions, for which I had to think on my feet. It was challenging, but in a good way. And, I could see that I was evoking positive responses. I thought I would be a good fit in both the labs. The hard part was done. All I had to do now was see if they would actually take me.