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How to become a professor – what hiring committees are looking for

Dreaming of becoming a professor one day? Then it might be worthwhile to know what universities are looking for and plan your career strategically. We spoke to scientists who regularly attend hiring committees to find out what the first thing they look at when a CV lands on their desk.

We published the article in Chemistry World. You can read it here for free.

Here is the overview that belongs to the article:

Further recommended reading: 

Book: At the Helm: Leading your Laboratory by Kathy Barker

Book: Promotion – Postdoc – Professur: Karriereplanung in der Wissenschaft by Mirjam Müller

Article: How to become a professor by Sven Hendrix


Our recommended seminars covering part of this topic:

Women & Career

Hello academia 

Leadership skills

How to build your lab

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postdoc or not

Postdoc or not?

Shall I do a postdoc or not? That is a very important question that you have to ask yourself before starting to apply for jobs. We believe that in most cases it is relatively easy to answer this question. You should just ask yourself what you would like to do in the future.


Would you like to proceed as a researcher in academia and could you imagine running your own research group in the future? In other words, do you want to have a career in science? – Do a postdoc! Or, does your future career plan or dream job require you to have postdoctoral experience? If a clear yes, you should certainly do a postdoc. However in the latter case, we would advise you to contact one or more people who are active in your “dream career” if this is really a set requirement or if there are other ways to get there. Typically this is only the case in top jobs, e.g. as research team leader in a big pharmaceutical company. In some cases, experience outside of academia would be judged as more valuable than postdoctoral experience in academia. A postdoc can also be useful if you feel that you want to change/expand your field of expertise, be it that you see no career opportunities in the field you currently work in or that you´re just sick of it. In the latter case this is usually not a problem outside of academia as you will typically not use your core specialisation to the fullest extent anyway.…

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Overcoming the PhD Stereotype


Guest post from David Giltner, PhD, founder of TurningScience.

When I’m honest with myself, I’ll admit that there are two main reasons I got a PhD.  The first was the realization while earning my undergraduate degree that one doesn’t truly become a scientist with only 4 years of college.  If I wanted to become a physicist, I needed a PhD.  

The second reason was that I wanted to prove I was smart.  I wanted to prove it to myself, and I wanted to prove it to others.  Once I’d completed a PhD, I’d forever have those three letters behind my name that proved to everyone for all eternity that I was smart.   

During my last year of graduate school, I decided that instead of pursuing the traditional career of a research professor, I’d launch my career in industry.  My first job involved developing sophisticated lasers for scientific applications, so I was surrounded by many other PhDs, and I was able to relish the confidence I’d established with my degree. As I began to move out of the lab into leadership roles that brought me more in contact with the business elements of the company, I began to realize that not everyone in the real world thought I was smart just because I had a PhD.  I realized that there were many stereotypes associated with a PhD, and I still had to show people that I was smart.  Sure, they believed I could solve complicated physics problems, and that I could work for years to understand some complex aspect of how the universe works that most people will never understand.  

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academia_ NaturalScience.Careers

Return to academia: The price I’m willing to pay

Does academia deserve its reputation as a bad employer? And if so, why do some people choose to return? Philipp Gramlich and Karin Bodewits spoke to four scientists moving from the “real world” back into the ivory tower.

Read the full length article at (for free)

Academia has had some bad press in recent years. Long years of temporary contracts, enforced mobility, and low salaries are some of the arguments used against academic careers. But is the grass really greener on the other side?

After six years working in a permanent position at AstraZeneca, Neil Carragher embarked on a five-year contract as a PI at the Edinburgh Cancer Research Center. “I missed academic freedom and academia’s inspiring environment. In industry, the company strategy comes from above and you can’t really influence it as an individual,” he says. Moving to AstraZeneca in the first place was a tactical decision. “After two post-docs, I felt that industry offered a more supportive career path.”

After those years in big pharma, Carragher felt confident that he would make it in the academic world; “I had a large network, a clear scientific vision, and full support from the head of the department. Plus, they offered me a five-year contract, which is plenty of time to show what you can do.” Continue reading at


Philipp Gramlich has studied and researched chemistry at various universities in Germany, Australia and Scotland. After experiences in industry at baseclick and Eurofins Genomics, he co-founded NaturalScience.Careers. With seminars like “Goodbye academia?” he focuses on career- and skill-development for natural scientists.

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