Discussion: Comment on Advice needed

tivol at tethys.ph.albany.edu tivol at tethys.ph.albany.edu
Wed Nov 2 15:58:42 EST 1994

Dear Dietmar,
	To answer your questions: 1) No, different people will have different
interpretations.  Those of us who have had very productive experiences at 
jobs and then had to leave for reasons unrelated to merit will understand
that your job decisions might have also been unrelated to your or your em-
ployer's feelings about your continued employment.  2) Potential employers
will not necessarily apply worst case scenarios, although personnel depart-
ments often will.  In order to narrow down the sometimes thousands of appli-
cants to a short list, arbitrary decisions must be made.  Any method which
will give a few of the top ten applicants will be satisfactory to the person-
nel department.  Given that the top 1% of applicants would all be excellent
additions to the workforce and given that there is no foolproof method to 
find the very best candidate, this is a rational procedure.  3) A letter of
recommendation from your previous boss to the effect "...we tried everything
to find the funding to keep Dr. X on staff, but after stretching her/his max-
imum stay by three years we ran out of options..." etc. would be the best way
to diffuse any negatives.
	The emphasis on supervising, teamwork, etc. in your original email mes-
sage will appeal to a team-oriented professor; however, one who sees him/her-
self as a self-contained researcher and wants her/his postdocs, assistant
professors, etc. to be cut from the same cloth will not look favorably on
this.  Many people fel that the emphasis on teamwork conceals an inability to
work independently.  Furthermore, when applying for a tenure-track position,
as opposed to a more senior position, it may not be desirable to emphasize
your abilities to organize and supervise--that's your prospective employer's
	I didn't respond to your previous post, since I didn't know any speci-
fic examples of tenure-track positions or people who could give you addi-
tional advice.  Good luck.
				Bill Tivol

More information about the Bioforum mailing list