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The Black Hole

The faculty recruitment process is complex, competitive and crazy

BY JONATHAN THON | OCT 24 2016

The faculty application and interview process spans over months and takes away precious time from experiments and grants.

To read the previous articles in this series please visit the links below:

In an earlier post I defined the present economic climate for burgeoning young scientists, and the career uncertainty that should be expected if pursuing this career trajectory. Here I describe the reality of what that entails in four personal independent anecdotes. The first is my own. The rest are from scientists who have volunteered to share their personal experiences and have asked to remain anonymous. Given their length I’ve chosen to post each as a separate article:

In the Trenches

I interviewed at countless top-tier institutes this year and realized that it is perhaps not the best time to find a job. Most of the places invited me for the second visit and showed serious commitment in recruiting me. Every time we started finalizing my start-up package and offer, something would come up and ruin my prospect. It was either the sequestration of the NIH budget; grant portfolio of faculty members in the division, government shutdown, and/or lack of support from my mentor. I tend to be objective in my life and try to find positive energy from all experiences, but it’s very difficult to keep up with repeated disappointments as well.

The faculty application and interview process spans over months and takes away precious time from experiments and grants. As more people begin to look for jobs, the faculty recruitment process becomes more complex, competitive and crazy! Although I have 11 first-authored papers including one in Nature, grants of more than $500K in direct-cost, and prestigious awards, it’s been very difficult. I hope I can continue to add more grants and papers on my CV, but it will get more complicated without independent commitment.  The bright side is that I was able to add tons of miles on my frequent flyer account and meet an outstanding group of people across the United States. I plan to be persistent and look forward to hopefully turn around this situation into a successful career very soon.

ABOUT JONATHAN THON
Jonathan Thon
Dr. Thon is the Founder and CEO of STRM.BIO. Before STRM.BIO Dr. Thon Founded Platelet BioGenesis where he served as CEO and Chief Scientific Officer. Before Platelet BioGenesis Dr. Thon was an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School.
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  1. Brett / October 25, 2016 at 14:57

    “Although I have 11 first-authored papers including one in Nature, grants of more than $500K in direct-cost, and prestigious awards, it’s been very difficult”.

    Wow. Good luck to you. There is no way I am competing in an environment like this. 🙂

  2. Alex / November 2, 2016 at 14:15

    Yes, this is the crazy reality. The only fair option would to legally require universities to provide faculty jobs to all qualified candidates who pass certain criteria (number of publications, h-index, teaching experience, etc) and adjust these criteria based on the funding, but somehow I don’t see that happening. I myself spent 10 years (unsuccessfully) applying for faculty jobs, but had to draw the line at some point. Good luck to you!