To do list:

  • Send your application by e-mail or overnight delivery. Consider a paper packet if you have unpublished manuscripts you want to include.
  • Make it easy for lab heads to contact you by e-mail or phone.
  • Follow-up by e-mail in 1–2 weeks to make sure they received your application. Don’t phone.
  • Choose referees who really know you, such as collaborators, unofficial advisers or others beyond the standard committee members.
  • Meet with your referees to explain your career goals to them.
  • Encourage referees to send their letters promptly (Salk Institute cell biologist Martin Hetzer says that the speed with which a letter lands in his inbox is usually much more telling than the letter’s content).
  • Prepare for the possibility of phone interviews, which may be scheduled or spontaneous. Make sure the conversation is two-way and ask your own questions, too. Have a list of bullet points handy in case you get nervous.


Preparing to become a postdoc, well-prepared instructions for each step.

A foot in the door, Published in Nature 463, 696-697 (3 February 2010)

How to write a killer cover letter for a postdoctoral application by Bill Sullivan, Ph.D.,Indiana University School of Medicine.

Tips on Writing a Postdoctoral Request Letter – Analytical Chemistry (ACS Publications)

Lab Management – Resources for the Development of Early-Career Scientists

Negotiation: It Can Hurt to Ask. Negotiation is a delicate dance and it is the first opportunity for your future employer to see how you will be once on the job. If you make reasonable requests and are easy to negotiate with, then that is a good sign to your future colleague. However, you can destroy a relationship if you play hardball in negotiations.

Cover Letter Writing Guide: Academic Faculty Positions: Cover letters are letters of application that supplement and accentuate information on the resume.  They should be written with the reader’s interest in mind.  Direct particular attention toward specific skills and use concrete examples.  Make sure you clearly stated why you are interested in the company, what you have to offer, and how you can contribute.

Resume, CV, Cover Letter Guides and Examples, Columbia University


Finding a Postdoc in the Sciences: Nailing the Interview

Face-to-Face Interview Tips for a Postdoctoral Position