From our discussion there seem to be two common pathways into lectureships.
Path one: Get your own research money
Then use your research to leverage a lectureship. Getting your own funding helps in two ways:
- It shows you have a bigger picture plan for your research and why it is important. It shows you have passion for your research, else you would not have convinced a panel to fund you. It also demonstrates key skills such as grant writing, budgeting a project, and potentially managing other people. Getting your own funding also means you are more likely to be awarded future grants.
- You can negotiate a permanent position based on your fellowship or grant money. Our college has a good history of giving permanent lectureships to post-docs who win a fellowship. While on a fellowship you would likely be employed as a proleptic lecturer. If you bring your grant with you to Exeter from another university there is scope to negotiate a position to be created for you (you will likely have to go through formal recruitment but since the job was created for you to apply it will be well suited to your skills).
Path two: Apply for a job that has been advertised
This has the advantage that there is already a lectureship available, but has the disadvantage that you will go up against your peers and you need to demonstrate you are the best for the position. There are two stages to getting that job. The first stage is preparing yourself and your research. The second is nailing the interview and presentation.
Preparation for the lectureships before you start applying
You should be thinking about this phase before you start apply for jobs.
Mentoring: This is important at all stages but especially when your transitioning between post-doc and lecturer. One mentor can’t provide everything you need. Consider having a few different people in your corner and work out what areas they are best to help you with. Don’t overlook junior faculty, as they have gone through it more recently and can relate to what your going through. Find people who will champion for you – and don’t rule out having a senior mentor who is a different gender.
Get on other peoples grants: Being the named post-doc or a co-investigator on an awarded grant is a really important way to get started on grant funding. It also gives you insight into how grants are written and will give you useful experience in this process.
What’s your vision: You need to know what you want to research in the future and what goals you are aiming towards. Start laying out your research vision and goals. It is never too early to think about this.
Applying and interviewing
Which jobs should I apply for? Don’t wait for the perfect position before you apply. You need practice in academic interviews. Then when the right job does come along you are ready. You might even find one of the jobs you apply for is better than you thought!
Be proactive in your preparation. Work with a senior member of staff on possible interview questions and how you will answer them. Also practice your lecture with them so you pitch the content of your talk correctly. For example, should I talk about teaching, should I give a broad overview of my research or be very specific on one topic?
For those of us who feel like an imposter: If imposter phenomena is holding you back, then you need to work a little harder on how to describe your research and why you’re best for the position. Practice these with your mentor (this is why you need your mentoring relationship already strong for times like this).
Is the position new or a replacement? Do find out if the position is a new position or taking over an existing post. This will have a big impact on how you transition into the role. You may be expected to teach right away or you may get a 1-2 year transition into teaching. You really want to know which.
Apply for jobs that you do not expect to get or that you don’t fit all the criteria for. Don’t wait for the perfect position. Consider applying for jobs that don’t fit exactly in your specialist area – look out for the wording “or anyone else in a related field“. They may actually want a broad range of applicants. You goal is then to convince the hiring committee that what you do, and you specifically, are a good fit for the position. Also keep in mind that poorly written job descriptions receive less applicants than very polished ones. The polished ones will be more competitive.
Own your luck. There will likely be some element of luck to your employment. But still own your success. Sure you might have been in right place at the right time. You might have even been lucky enough to have a stronger candidate removed themselves from the application or not accept the position. It is okay to see yourself as lucky, but also see yourself as the one who was prepared and qualified, which is why you got the job!