Applying for other jobs = betrayal?


Hey all!

So I'm in my last 6 months of my PhD and am obviously concerned about what I'm going to be doing next. I've always wanted to stay put as I'm very happy where I am and so is my fiance (neither of us even remotely want to move), and my supervisor has put in a number of grant applications that I am either named on or would be able to apply for if she were successful. I have always emphasized to her that I really want to stay in this department and I do.

But of course, I can't count on anything. Now there are another couple of jobs at different universities that have come up that I am thinking of applying for. I would have to put her down as a reference but I am scared of asking her in case she goes off on one and thinks that I am not committed to her projects or am wasting her time by being prepared to move elsewhere, when really I am just trying to cover my back.

Any advice? My heart says to just wait until something comes up here, which it will in the end, but I don't know how long I will have to wait and what I would do in the meantime. My head says to apply for every single thing that I can.

Cheers peeps, KB


when you fill in the bit they will ask if they may contact your references. Just put that they can only be contacted if they offer you the post.

Avatar for sneaks

I've had the same issues and I honestly don't know the answer. Its very difficult, especially as sup hasn't had any proper job offers for me - just a list of 'maybe' and 'hopefully' and '"if"s. Nothing concrete.

I've just been making sure they can't contact the referees until after the interview, but some ask to contact if you're successful in getting to interview - its a bit of a minefield.

Last summer I ended up getting 3 interviews, was unsuccessful in each and that makes it even worse, because my sup started to doubt me and how I 'sell' myself - she didn't take into account that the internal cnadidate got each of those roles.

I have the added difficulty that my sup has now told me to concentrate on my PhD and NOT submit applications to anywhere - great, but I have a mortgage!

No help, sorry, but I understand what you're going through!


Uhhm, but this is only normal! My sup wrote lengthy refs for me for jobs in many countries, and applied with me for stuff for a big grant with her too which was my first pref. As it happens the grant didnt work out but I got one of those other jobs in a European country and have taken it up. I asked her if she minded and she said absolutely not, you must keep applying for each and every thing and make a choice only when you have concrete offers!

So it seems natural that you should apply! I had 3 or 4 apps in the UK, and one each in 4 other EU countries.



You'd be daft *not* to apply for other jobs. Would your supervisor have a hissy fit if s/he knew? If not, be honest and tell him/her that you're doing it. They really shouldn't object - tis the nature of the beast that is academia. If anything, might make them fight extra hard to keep you. But if they're a reasonable person they shouldn't object.


Hey! Yeah, I'm worried she might have a hissy-fit if she finds out....she's extremely unpredictable and has the potential to make my life hell (and has done in the past when I have upset her for some minor sin or other!). I do have the option to ask them not to request references until after interview (if I got one) but as I would expect pretty good references from v well respected researchers it would be nice to have them considered when screening for interviewees. But of course, if my sup was hacked off that I had an interview, then maybe it would not be such a good reference after all...I think I might present her with a 'hypothetical' situation in supervision tommorrow and see how she reacts! She's always written fantastic references for me before but they have all been to obtain funding to work with her! This is sooo complicated! Thanks guys, KB


I know your supervisor is unpredictable, but in the current economic climate I would go with your head, not your heart, and apply for jobs.

Good luck.


KB , are you really sure you want to continue with this person? She sounds entirley unprofessional if she throws a fit over people seeking jobs! I do hope she is better than this!


Quote From phdbug:

KB , are you really sure you want to continue with this person? She sounds entirley unprofessional if she throws a fit over people seeking jobs! I do hope she is better than this!

Actually phdbug, I am not sure I want to continue with her, it is like Jekyll and Hyde working with her. We originally had a very good relationship until she threw a massive strop about me getting engaged and then proceeded to suggest that I shouldn't have children because I have bipolar disorder. She is against all things family-oriented, including children, and makes no secret of it. Now I am actually nervous of meetings with her, feedback from her, in fact anything to do with her.

The real reason I would stay is because she has a worldwide reputation for her research (and her temper probably), is very good at bringing the funding home, and our research interests match very well. Previously we worked extremely well together, but as I say, this seems to be a thing of the past. She can be soooo nice but also incredibly nasty and unprofessional when she wants to be, and is also very devious in covering her tracks, not to mention manipulative (several previous students have accused her of bullying and behaving inappropriately, and I have certainly witnessed this). So no, I'm not sure. My policy on this was going to be just to see what the outcome of the funding applications are and if nothing works out here then take that as a sign and move on. If there were loads of jobs out there I wouldn't think twice about moving on, but my best chances of funding are probably here in reality. Still, one more incident with her and that will be the end. Maybe I am mad to even think about staying anywhere near her, I just don't know.

So yeah, on reflection, I think I will be applying for those jobs :)
Thanks! KB


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Hey Keenbean, I really think you need to get out of there! You don't need the extra stress and you've done amazingly well so far, so start lining up jobs now. I think you need to tell her about the applications - you've got a lot of research and teaching experience which makes me think that you're likely to get interviews so you'll have to tell her at some point anyway. She's gonna pitch a fit regardless IMO, but based on past form it'll be a bigger fit if she thinks you went behind her back. It sounds like she doesn't understand your need for a life outside of the PhD, and people like that will suck the life out of you. Good luck with the applications! (up)

ETA: And you know, most people move on to a new place post-PhD. It's very much the done thing, so don't feel bad about it. It would be really and truly unreasonable of her to attempt to hold you back in your career just because you didn't want to work with her until the end of time.


Have you ever tried looking beyond academia?

I think if you get into the do or die mentality it can make things really pressured, and look like the end of everything. I found this book really helpful when I made the jump (partly motivated by experiences with a nightmare PhD supervisor and an absent PI)

Even if you want to stay in acdemia its always nice to feel you have options, and its not a post doc or bust situation for you.


KB I'm sure you'll balance the pros and cons well, but IMO, this really, truly cant be good for you in the short or long run. Her reputation etc fine - you've already got it under your belt and on your CV that you've worked with/for her and published together. Perhaps it's time to liaise with others and go elsewhere? Just my thought. and she has absolutely no right, even if she holds the world's most reputed academic title, to comment on your personal life beyond a congratulations, so really, I hope you make the best choice for yourself. Bug :)


So now we've had supervision and she's just been really nice to me. It's almost like she's PGF stalking me and every time I whinge about her she decides to me nice to me for a week to confuse me. Dammit. KB


Reality has to win out over sentiment in these cases. And I would walk before you run - you're thinking about applying, that's a long way off having an offer on the table. If you don't want to ask her at this stage then, quite simply, don't! It's all way too hypothetical at the moment but you need to think about your own future and all the options.


Hey DanB- yeah I know it's hypothetical right now, I've not even applied for anything, and it's probably a bit too early to apply for stuff for the next few months anyway. But the dilemma is going to become reality pretty soon, which is why I'm trying to get my head round it before it happens. As you say, I might not even get interviews anyway for most of the things I apply for, but I still have to decide whether to tell her I'm even applying for other things, or to include a reference from the beginning. I guess I 'm just trying to pre-empt any problems, but life doesn't work like that! Best, KB