Is my career over?


I have a PhD and two year postdoc experience but was bullied out of my last post while i was suffering from depression. I now cannot get another post. I have had interviews but no offers. I have been away from academia for almost two years now. Am I kidding myself and should I just accept that the career I worked so hard for and love dearly is just over?


How many publications do you have?

Have you sought help with your depression in order to prevent your previous ordeal from repeating itself?


Depends on a few things. Number of publications, history of gaining awards and grants, and the area you conducted your research in are all critical. Some fields are more competitive than others, and the prospects in Engineering are different to English Lit.

Also it will depend on how good your connections are. If you have a powerful supervisor who can hook you up in some way, or former friends who can get you a position then you will have a smoother ride. If you are coming in from the cold without any of this, it's less likely anything is going to happen.

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

I can directly relate to your situation and unfortunately, I can't say there's an easy way out.

Like you, I did my PhD followed by a first post-doc at my PhD University. All was going okay and I managed a significant number of publications plus a book chapter jointly with my supervisor. It was overall an enjoyable although at times tough experience.

Then came my second post-doc at another University. I was taken on because one of the post-docs was overloaded with work and it was made clear to me on day two that I was "a stopgap measure, very much a second choice" and they would "just have to make do". The person they'd offered the job to first turned them down.

I had a difficult year in which I counted the days until I finished, with the Prof and above post-doc generally overbearing. At times, I just wanted to walk away. I made mistakes, but in that atmosphere mistakes were hard to avoid.

On leaving, I was on unemployment benefit for a year (no reference from second post-doc) before obtaining my current real world job where I've now been for some considerable time. Things to realise are that once out of the loop, breaking back into your chosen career path is very difficult. Also, the longer you leave it, the harder it is as new PhDs tend to fill those post-doc positions first.

All I can say is keep trying (something due to personal and family circumstances I'm unable to do) and perhaps your luck will change. Publications are everything, promote them on your academic CV and look if possible to write more. But have a non-academic plan B (your non-academic CV should be structured to promote job relevant skills and experience rather than your academic achievements - previous employment followed by qualifications) to ensure you at least have a wage paying job, Unemployment is a depressing place to be, placing you in an even worse position.