How to applying for biotech faculty and industry jobs simultaneously?
October 3, 2012 5:19 PM   Subscribe

I am applying for tenure-track molecular biology faculty positions in the US. My skills are also in high demand in industry. Offers for faculty jobs I apply to now should come anywhere from late Feb to early May with a lot of flexibility on how long I have for acceptance. I suppose that biotech industry positions will have a much shorter timescale from application to their decision and how long I have for mine, but I'm not entirely sure. If I want to maximize my options in the spring, when should I start inquiring about industry jobs?

Should I start in December? January? After my first interview?

I'm in the Bay Area and have a lot of contacts in the industry. Does the answer change for positions that I inquire through my friends about versus those I apply for directly or via a recruiter? What about positions across town versus the ones I would have to fly across the country for?

I also have assured employment in my current position so it's not like I can screw this up completely. But there's no room for advancement where I am.

Any other advice for pursuing employment in both tracks would be appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd look now. I've never been in industry but as long as you are honest with them I don't see how you can go wrong. If they need someone now, then they will hire someone else. But they will do that anyway if you wait. You need to hope that they want you for you and will make room whenever you are ready. Times are tough right now so I wouldn't assume that you can just waltz into industry and they'll just hire you. At least this way you'll be on their radar.

Regarding academia, have a kick-ass talk ready. Give them a solid plan for your future lab. Show them your vision. Practice your chalk talk with the most critical scientists you know. Try to schedule the schools that aren't your favorites first for "practice". Have a general idea of the startup package you'd like. And the one you'll need. Having a grant to bring with you is helpful. If you're going to a top-ranked school, having a Nature, Science or Cell paper is very helpful. Having multiples is even better.

Finally, I don't think there's "lots of flexibility on how long you have for acceptance". Some programs will try to push you for an immediate answer as a means of getting you into their program. Sometimes they do this because they need a candidate this year, and they'll go to their second choice if you decide not to come. I've rarely seen or heard of instances where you can take long periods of time to mull over your choice, but it totally depends on the program, their needs and their "personality". You might get a few months but I wouldn't count on more than that. Best of luck to you!
posted by SciGuy at 8:45 PM on October 3, 2012

It depends a lot on the company. Some places will take months to get you a final offer - which means look three or four months before you want to decide. Some places will be looking to fill a position right now, which means one or two months.

The difficult place you're in is that the window for making a choice is narrower in industry than in academia. So they're going to make you an offer and then give you a week... maybe two.. to decide. So if the one offer comes early and you're still waiting to hear on another one, what will you do?

I see two main paths to reconcile the two schedules: 1. You turn down any offers you receive early while you wait to hear whether you get the T-T position you really want, but you now at least have an idea how desirable you are and have practice interviewing in industry. But make sure you've been honest with the places you've interviewed about your timeline, so that you aren't getting a bad reputation with them. If you tell them, "I can make a decision in April" and they come back to tell you they really need someone in February, that's cool. If you don't tell them the former and just turn down their offer in February, it might be harder - they'll want more assurances that you're serious about the position this time.

2. You get a good offer that you're really excited about in industry, and accept it - and then you get offered a T-T job and you leave the company. I think a lot of places would understand it although they'd of course prefer if you stayed (or they wouldn't have hired you).
posted by Lady Li at 9:04 PM on October 3, 2012

Mod note: From the OP:
When should I let people know about my timeline? Mention it to acquaintances before I apply? In a cover letter? During the interview? After an offer?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:06 AM on October 4, 2012

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