Job application dilemma


Ok, so I have just accepted a non-academic but science-related position at university A (my PhD uni).

Since then, three academic jobs have been advertised in my local area that I want to apply for:

University A; £32k; 3 year postdoc (probably wouldn't get this as I think it's earmarked for someone else)
University A; £35k; 1 year teaching fellow (reckon I have a chance at this)
University B; £32k; permanent lectureship (reckon I have a chance at this too because it's not a great uni)

Say I got an interview for any of these, at which point, if any, should I mention that I actually have a job at university A already?

If I apply within the next two weeks I will still be in my current job, so won't have actually started at university A yet. Should I mention this in the cover letter for example? Or should I mention it at interview? Or not at all?

One of these positions would be working for my ex supervisor and he knows about my new job and says it's not an issue for him, but I don't know how the others would feel about it. Obviously my new manager isn't going to like me starting a job and then leaving it should I get one of these others but can't do much about that.


I'd keep it under my hat personally. It's not the most honest approach but may leave you looking indecisive or unreliable if you tell them. Apply and deal with the outcomes from there. Good luck!


Is the new job temporary? If not, I can't see the benefit in applying for the temporary teaching fellowship or the postdoc at Uni A If you are fairly sure the latter is sewn up. Teaching fellowships normally involve a lot of teaching and no time for research. If you're not committed to the non-academic route, you might well get more published through doing some work in the evenings while working a less stressful non-academic job than as a teaching fellow. You also have the problem that if you got it, you will need another job in 12 months. Uni A are not likely to take you very seriously for any non-academic jobs again and IIRC you want very much to stay in that city. Are there many other possible employers e.g. industry?
If you do apply, I wouldn't mention your new job unless there's a form that specifically asks the question about connections to Uni A, as I can't see how it would come across well at all. Obviously HR at Uni A will know about your existing new job and these applications. They should keep it confidential but interviews etc would be tricky to manage without your new manager finding out - that may do damage to your prospects if you are not successful. It's not normally the done thing to accept a professional level job with the intent of leaving straightaway.
Uni B you're not potentially burning bridges so not a problem. I would though say that you need to be aware that if it's 'not a great uni', then it will be difficult to move back to a more research-focused role as the teaching and pastoral obligations are often very high. Are you happy with a predominantly teaching role dealing with poorly prepared students who are likely to need more support than you are used to giving?


Thanks both for your replies.

Yes the new job is also temporary - until June 2017 and a much lower salary than these three. When I was applying and interviewing for non-academic jobs I realised my heart wasn't in it. I can't help it - I just want to work in academia - teaching or research, I don't mind, ideally both though. There's no option of industry jobs in my city or nearby and I don't want this type of job anyway - I don't really like pure research.

I know that the teaching fellowship is mainly teaching - I'm ok with this because I love teaching. Plus, I know I could squeeze in research on the side and my PhD supervisors would encourage me to do this. Publications aren't a problem: My publication record looks like this so far:

Tree et al 2015 IF 2
Tree et al 2016 IF 5
Tree et al 2016 IF 1
Smith, Tree et al submitted August 2016 IF 20
Tree et al due to submit October 2016
Plus I will probably have two papers from my postdoc (not first author) and there's another two collaborative papers in the pipeline for 2017/18 (not first author)

With the teaching fellowship, there's a good chance it will be extended because all the other five people that are in the department on teaching fellowships over the last three years have had theirs extended for at least another year. Actually, it only hasn't been extended when these people have moved on to other jobs.

There's no specific place to mention it on the application form, but in the interview they might ask me what I'm currently doing and can I start straight away and then it would be difficult to lie...

With regards to Uni B, I don't mind the extra teaching effort that may be required.

I'm wondering whether to rescind my current job offer on the off chance I get invited to interview for anyone of these...


I disagree with Bewildered's view about the teaching posts. They can be a great way to enhance your CV, ESPECIALLY if you have the opportunity to do a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (or whatever that particular institution calls it).

I'm on a full time (fixed term) teaching fellowship at a Russell Group uni and I have a lot of support in developing my research career while doing a heck of a lot of teaching. I even put in a grant bid last month and am being fully supported in completing my PhD. 20 percent of my time is for 'scholarship' and 80 percent is accounted by teaching and admin duties. And it genuinely does work out that way. That's not to say that all institutions will support research time for teaching-focused academics, but it does happen and it can definitely be a good step up in your career.

One of my mentors has been encouraging me to actually forego the postdoc route after my PhD because I have so much teaching/admin experience. He says that when they're hiring new lecturers, if they're comparing inexperienced people they know that at least 1 arm of the lectureship will need extra support. For post docs, they need more support in teaching and admin, and less support in research. For me, I'd need support in research and less in teaching and admin as I've lots of experience there.

Anyways, back to the question at hand. What would your notice period be at the new job? And when would you start? Is there any way you can put off the start date until after the interviews for this other position? That way, you could withdraw without starting the job if you got the others. Academia is a small community and reputations matter. I think the worst thing you could do would be to start the non-teaching job and then hand in your notice immediately (or very soon after). That would screw them over and waste their money and reflect badly on you.


Also, don't lie in the applications or interviews. If they ask, be honest. You've accepted a non-academic job at the university which would start on XX date. You have an XX month notice period. So, you would ideally need to start working for them earlier or work the notice period.

I don't think you need to be up front about it though. Most employers will expect a notice period. And, you might be able to do a deal with the job you've accepted to shorten it, or even have no notice period - they'll probably want to save the money and hire someone else ASAP.


Thanks IntoTheSpiral.

I know there's an opportunity to do the PGHE or equivalent because I know others in the same role have done it.

Regarding the start date, this is part of the problem. It's on the 22nd of August and the manager has already told me there's no negotiation as she wants a two week handover with the previous jobholder. If I start the job, the notice period is 4 weeks.

For any one of these new jobs, they don't list the interview date, but I bet it's w/c the 22nd or 29th of August and then I bet they would want someone to start by the start of term, which is the 19th of Sept... Seems a very short turn around but I can't see them starting later than that.

I know reputations matter a lot, but I do have a great relationship with my previous supervisors in the department and I've always got on well with other academics and technical staff there so I would hope that would stand me in good stead whatever happens... The other job is in a completely different faculty so I doubt there would be much crossover, although they would probably contact my supervisor who provided a reference and ask what was going on and that wouldn't look great for him either...

So basically, I would have to start this job before the others even pass their closing date. That would then mean taking days off for interviews should I get them, which won't look good anyway, and then if I get any other job, I would have to have a reduced notice period, because I doubt they would wait for me.

On top of this, when I was offered the job, the manager said she felt she was taking a 'risk' hiring me, and I wonder whether she would make it difficult for me to take a new job even if I was offered it.


Crumbs. That's a really tough position to be in :-( I see why you're struggling with it.

I think, in that case, you should just see how the fates lie and deal with each issue as it arises. Apply for the jobs, go to the interviews and if they offer you a position deal with the negotiations then.

You may go to the interviews and decide that actually the jobs aren't better than the current one you've got. This happened to me last year. I was interviewed for what I thought was my dream permanent job after accepting a fixed term position at my current university. I was extremely happy when I wasn't offered the dream job because I didn't actually get a good feeling about the place while I was there.

What does your supervisor think? Also, when you applied for the non-academic job were you giving the impression that you had given up on academia and wanted to go the non-academic route? Or, had you been honest about your dreams to pursue an academic role? If the latter, then you're probably fine. They would have been expecting you to continue applying for academic roles and probably knew you wouldn't go through the entire contract. If not, then it's definitely a bit awkward.

The only way I would consider withdrawing from the job you've got, is if you could afford to be without a job for a year. Because, even with short term jobs on short notice the competition is really tough. We just appointed someone last week to start early in Sept on a 9 month post. There were 30+ applications for the position. It's tough out there.

Oh and there's plenty of cross faculty talk at universities. I was manning a stand at open days and the head of a completely unrelated department that is based on a different campus came to talk to me and was all "oh yes, I recognise your name, you did XX thing didn't you?"


Just do your best to act with honesty and integrity. It's a difficult situation for sure.

Your new job is going to be pissed off if you leave, no doubt. But, you can work your little butt off in those 3 weeks or so and make it worth their while that they hired you even if you do leave. Be the best employee you can be to make up for the fact that you're leaving them in the lurch. Be smiley and grateful and be a benefit to them.

Anyways, best of luck, and let us know how it all goes!


Yes, it's very difficult :(

I could be worrying about nothing at the moment of course, since if I apply and don't get an interview, it won't make much difference.

My supervisor knows how much I want an academic job and knows that I only took that one because I need a job. He knows I would quit that one if something better came along. I could survive for a year without a job but I'd rather not use up all my savings.

That's good to know about the competition. I'm sure there's people out there with more lecturing experience than me, but having assisted in the department practicals and tutorials etc over the 4 years of my PhD I think that also gives me a bit of an advantage over a completely external candidate. Of course, other ex PhD students from this uni may also be applying so...


So, an update... I got the teaching job! Really excited and happy! Also shows the importance of perseverance in the academic job hunt. It's only temporary but I'm hopeful it will be renewed next year.

They didn't care about the fact that I have just started a non-academic job and will be handing my notice in after only 3 weeks...

And you were right about the cross-talk IntoTheSpiral, one of the interviewers asked me "didn't you apply for xxx job in xxx department a few months ago?" And then I remembered his wife worked there! haha


Congratulations TreeofLife! Great news!


Thank you Chickpea!


Congratulations TreeofLife, well deserved.


Congratulations TreeOfLife! That's awesome news. Is this your first teaching job as staff rather than as a postgrad?

I learned soooo much about the business of university in my first job as staff rather than just a postgrad, it's amazing how much bureaucracy and "other" stuff is involved in teaching. In my view, nothing sets you up better for the academic rat race than getting a staff-level teaching post. The day to day business of teaching is so much more than delivering lectures/seminars, and it really becomes obvious when you get up to this level. The red tape is frustrating, but there's lots of fun opportunities around as well - if you can get involved in doing the postgraduate certificate of academic practice (or equivalent) then I'd highly recommend it. Just think how strong your CV will look when you're going for permanent jobs next time! Well done!

Anyways, when do you start? And I'm intrigued, how did the job you've already started take you handing your notice in? Are you even working notice?