How to apply for a PhD/postdoc position

How to apply for a PhD/Postdoc position…keeping it as short as possible.

When you consider applying for a doctoral or postdoctoral position, you will be encouraged by this letter. Your application is the first interaction and hopefully the beginning of your Ph.D./postdoctoral journey. Having an application will have the same or even greater importance to you as an application for a position in the industry or a professorship in your future. Why then do we receive so many applications that are denied (REJECTED) without any review? Let me share a couple of lines before we get to that.

I have to be honest with you, I don’t know is there any general way or the right way to do it. This can depend on a professor, an institution, or even a field of your study. But for sure, the position description includes all the details you need to know. The practical advice is to read the guidelines on how to apply carefully (several times). In this step, you will find one of the most important documents during your career, which, you can find the materials you need to apply and how to apply. The absolute rule is to submit all the documentation needed by the employer. Of course, if the guidelines or instructions are not clear enough, it is easier to explain with the contact given instead of sending an application that is not complete and you generate a minus point at the start.

Now, let see why do we reject so many applications? Think about what happens when you make an incomplete application? Or just think what you’d do if someone gave you an incomplete application?
We would like to point out that we are hard-working, team members, learners, enthusiastic etc. Was this evident by not following the guidelines and sending an application with missing or incomplete material?

What’s necessary is to make an effort! Because you think – nothing else – for example, for the paycheck you receive that someone has received to give you.

So, by deviating from simple directions, you give the following message:

  • You are not able to execute the procedure with specific instructions;
  • You are someone for whom the employer can adjust or adapt the process;
  • The efforts of people who need to evaluate several applications critically are not important;
  • You do not read, take care of and obey essential instructions;
  • When the study proposal is incomplete, it sends a message that you have no idea what you want to do;
  • I’m best for you, there’s no need for more details.

Sorry, but that’s not how it works.

Typically you’re searching for top schools and professors. Sure, they’d like to have you as well, but first by submitting a full application with all the required materials.

My experience from hiring in the industry is that 90% of applications were properly made. In academia, I observe only 10% or less properly submitted applications.

What we are doing is what we are! So please follow the directions, and your chances are far higher to take a great opportunity for yourself.

Now the final point but from my personal experience, I should tell you, which mostly PhD position in compare to Postdoc position is really like a relationship. Maybe you can find a nice professor, with a sufficient scholarship/fund in a good university, but you and your adviser do not have a similar approach in general for problem-solving or more precise some similar personal behaviour. Therefore, when they invite you for an interview apart from them which evaluate you. Also, you should have a rough idea about them.

If you are interested to find more details about this topic you can find them on these websites:


Wish you the best.

HamiD R. Barzegar, PhD 



Reference: Professor Haris GačaninStatus

                   PhD Comics 

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