Finding a postdoc overseas

Posted: July 7, 2011 in Post-Doc, UK Job Advice

So you want to do your postdoc in another country? Here are some tips for identifying job opportunities and people to contact.

One way to land a postdoc is to send an unsolicited email to someone to see if they have funds and are interested in you. However, finding potentially suitable employers can be challenging. One way to do this is to use the Web of Science, which should be available through your institution (usually a link in the libraries website database page). From here you can do a search based on a number of criterion, one of which is address. All you need to do is pop in the topic you are interested in one field, and the country you are interested in working in another, and voila! While this isn’t perfect, it’s a good way to start tracking down potential employers.

The other resource that is rich in international opportunities is nature jobs.

Finally, you can look into European society websites that have job listings. These are actually quite useful as they appear to be the number one place specific jobs are listed as best I can tell (e.g, FENS (Federation for European Neuroscience) job market, or EMBO jobs (European Molecular Biology Organization) etc).

When I was searching for my current postdoc, I had an offer through just contacting someone (that I found via Web of Science) and one from a job posting on Nature jobs. I ended up taking the latter offer (partly) because it was for longer (3 yrs vs 1 yr).

If anyone else has any other resources for finding an overseas postdoc (obviously this comes from an American perspective) please leave a comment!

Happy searching!

  1. Dr. 27 says:

    This is wonderful and super useful!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi, great websites, thanks. Just based on your experience, I was curious what a typical time frame was for applying to postdocs in the EU? Since in the US, it’s common to start looking a year in advance and have something lined up for a long time, so I was wondering how it compares. From what I’m reading, it sounds like people there often finish their PhDs and only then start looking, so the postdoc openings may be for more immediate hiring? Or is it better to go the contacting-professors-directly strategy vs. responding to ads to try to arrange something further in advance? I’m in a difficult situation trying to figure out how to arrange things between me and my boyfriend in the EU, and it may be necessary for me to go over there for a few years at least, but I definitely can’t wait to have something lined up in the EU until just a month or two before I defend.

  3. funkdoctorx says:

    Thanks…sorry for the delay in responding, been debating about what to do with the blog…anyhow I figured I’d at least respond to this.

    It does differ here in the UK (and my guess Europe as well). There seems to be a MUCH shorter time between when offered a job and when you are expected to start up. This came as being quite unexpected for me because once I accepted my new PI put a lot of pressure on me to start immediately whereas I was expecting to have several months to finish up my PhD etc.

    I went about applying in both ways, cold calls and responding to ads. I had two offers, one from each method, although with the cold calls I think you are much less likely to get a long term contract (they are very much into contracts over here, moreso than in the US). If you respond to an ad, chances are they will have funding for the position for more than a year (it was 3 years in my case, the typical “longer” length for post-docs here in the EU and UK). From the guy I just contacted, he could only offer me a year, and it depended more on his overall funding situation (although he was very well funded it likely would not have been an issue, but three years guaranteed versus one year…).

    So there are definitely challenges when looking to apply in the UK/EU. Not least of which is that a formal interview process has to be setup because they will be hiring a non-EU resident. This is very much unlike in the US where they will just interview and then hire once they find someone. For you to get a work visa (at least in the UK) you have to tick the box (and so does the employer) indicating that they cannot find anyone in the EU that can do the job…

    anyhow, I hope that helps. Good luck with your search…it’s a very different research environment on the other side of the pond. If get back to posting, I’ll certainly let the world in on it!


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