I work for one of the big 3 chemical companies and lead PhD recruiting for our division. We evaluate hundreds of applications from top 25 schools every year and interview dozens of outstanding PhD and postdoc candidates, many of whom have pedigrees and CV’s worthy of getting TT positions at top schools. The candidate pool is INSANELY deep right now, and excellent candidates really are a dime a dozen.
@ March 8 10:34: I’d be very careful about “holding out” and adding years to a postdoc. It sounds like you’re determined to work in academia, but you should know that extended postdocs will hurt your chances of landing an industry job as well. I can’t even begin to tell you how many awesome candidates I have interviewed who have tried and failed to get TT jobs and are now trying to get into industry, only to find that the bar is just as high (or higher, if you look at soft skills). You obviously want to minimize regrets in your life, but you have a chance at 5 years of guaranteed job security. That’s more than I have now, and certainly more than most will ever have. I’d hate for you to regret passing up what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity....and later on in the thread:
As I mentioned earlier, the talent pool is much deeper than most people really want to admit. The assumption that you’re making is that an extended postdoc confers broader knowledge, training, and experience? Does it, though? Most of the post-docs I look at are working in areas that could reasonably be considered extensions of their thesis fields, and those few who have stepped out of their comfort zone to get broad experience are generally able to demonstrate their talents within 3 years. Many of the post-docs in their 2nd or 3rd appointment are basically acting as the “synthesis expert” in a non-synthetic group. I’m not trying to disparage the post-doc experience whatsoever. Just recognize that post-doc is not always synonymous with terms like “more” or “better”. Sometimes post-doc is just a synonym for “holding pattern” or “cheap labor”.The Banholzer Award is awarded for "Truth-Telling about Chemical Employment" from chemical employers, no matter how uncomfortable, unpopular or annoying. Congratulations, Anon749am and thanks for the insight.
[CJ's editorial re-comment: postdoctoral positions are quite often the scientific equivalent of an inferior good, that is a position that one would not take, if one had a better option.]