I just wrapped up my first 2-year postdoc, and started another.  So this morning, I got an email from NSERC asking me to complete a survey on my experiences with the program. A couple of the questions asked about my future plans, and at the end of the survey, I got to see the results (which, sadly, you can’t do unless you’ve been invited to complete the survey; the link I have no longer works).  Thankfully, I jotted down some of the more pertinent numbers.

1. Are you looking for permanent work?

  • Yes: 568
  • No: 348

2. How many applications have you submitted?

  • 15.29 ± 20.55; range: 1-99
  • (I suspect that the field only allowed only 2 digits)

3. How many interviews have you had?

  • 2.74 ± 7.00; range: 1-99
  • (again, I suspect 99 is a cut-off)

4. Have you received any job offers?

  • Yes: 432
  • No: 459

Now, these include jobs outside one’s field (I’m assuming).  I know from my own experience (and that of close colleagues) that an application: interview ratio of about 5 is very low (i.e., we have put in more applications for every interview), but this is “anecdata”.

So, what does any self-respecting scientist do? Collect data!

Click here to answer a very quick (i.e., <1 minute) survey about your academic job searching.  I’ll announce a survey closing date on Twitter in late October, and crunch the results in early November.

Yes, there are lots of variables that affect the ratio of applications to interviews, but there’s not a lot of this kind of information out there for early-career researchers, so we might as well start somewhere.