Friday, December 26, 2008

Career plans

Not surprisingly, most of Curly Arrows readers are early career chemists, predominantly PhD students and Post Docs. So although subjects such as publications, H index, impact factors etc. have been beaten to death elsewhere I thought I'd do a brief post on the topic here because it is very important for your career prospects that you start thinking of these things early on. When in the past I have been presented with a pile of job applications the first things I (and others) look at are:
a) Name of applicant and of recent supervisors (to see if I know any of them)
b) Publication list
So since 95% of the time I don't know the people the applications fate is determined in the course of 1 minute based on your publication list.
It sounds unreasonable but this is how you quickly eliminate 75% of the applicants. If you make it through the first screen then people actually sit down and read your application in detail, request references etc.
So if you want to get the dream job work hard and publish lots of papers. It doesn't have to be Nature papers the main thing is that your look productive (journals with impact factor >2 are fine for a synthetic organic chemist).
Unfortunately, too many supervisors will give you dead end piece of shite projects that are destined for the bin. Check your prospective boss out. How much does he publish, in what journals, talk to former and current students in the group etc. Also worth considering is whether the group publish papers with alphabetical author lists or not. The alphabetical approach can really screw your career in a fair few countries. When you apply for grants in Denmark they generally look for first and last authorship to determine your project input but also at which journals you published in to estimate the quality/impact of the work.
Having a decent track record and publication list is going to get you through the first screening round. However, to make it to the interview good references and relevant skills will obviously be very important. So think about it and start planning your career early on. D!


Excimer said...

Wow, that was useful advice. From a blog. I'm shocked! Thanks!


ohh.. nice information. Thanks a lot for this.

Pseudo said...

Thanks for the info...but what about if the 'damage' has already been done, ie. a dead end project that was realised way too late, also due to stubbornness and to an extend, a lack of sufficient supervision. Hence, no papers from PhD. Does that mean it's then a dead end, no chances at all in terms of staying in research?