Careers, Dissemination

15/1: How many applications does it take to get a job offer

From Nature Careers

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thanks to Van Tay Media for sharing their work on Unsplash.

It takes at least 15 job applications to land a single offer, finds a survey of 317 early-career researchers who applied for faculty positions in a range of nations. The results have shed light on a hiring process that is often opaque, frustrating and hard to predict. Contrary to common belief, the authors found that a publication in a high-profile journal isn’t an absolute prerequisite for a successful application.

The survey was conducted by members of the Future PI Slack community, a postdoctoral support group. They collected responses from researchers who had applied for faculty positions between May 2018 and May 2019. Respondents hailed from 13 countries, although 72% were from the United States; 85% were in the life sciences. Overall, 58% received job offers, significantly above the average from other studies, suggesting that successful applicants were especially willing to take the survey. Only 26% had an authorship credit in CellNature or Science.

The survey tracked conventional metrics of success such as fellowships, citations and publications, and found that these measures were only modestly effective at predicting which applicants would get job offers. The authors tried to construct a flow chart to predict the applicants’ fate, but it was less than 60% accurate.

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