Ready for a Postdoc? Here’s How to Stand Out!

By Raymond Mulyawan

Are you nearing the end of your PhD and wondering what the next step in your academic career should be? A postdoctoral position could be a great way to expand your research expertise and enhance your academic credentials.

In this article, we’ll dive into what it means to be a postdoc, how to secure a position, and how to thrive in this role. We’ll also introduce you to a valuable resource for finding postdoctoral opportunities.

Find Post Doc Jobs
Considering becoming a university lecturer in Australia? Learn about the rewarding career path, growth opportunities, required skills, and salary expectations
Considering becoming a university lecturer in Australia? Learn about the rewarding career path, growth opportunities, required skills, and salary expectations

What is Postdoctoral Research?

A postdoctoral research, or postdoc, is a training-focused fellowship for someone who has completed their PhD. During a postdoc, individuals engage in further academic research to deepen their expertise and prepare them for high-level research roles in the future.

For instance, a person who has completed a doctorate program in virology can choose to become a research fellow and research more on the effects and spread of viruses.

While a majority of postdocs are in the STEM field, positions in social sciences and humanity are becoming more common.

What does postdoc do?

A postdoc research fellow perform various duties:

  • Research and Experimentation: Contributing independent research projects or to larger research teams. This involves designing experiments, collecting data and analysing results.
  • Publishing findings: Using data from experimentation and research, postdocs often publish articles for academic journals and members of the industry. Regular publications are crucial to build a good reputation and secure tenure track position.
  • Mentorship and teaching: Supervising graduate students and assisting in teaching responsibilities.
  • Grant writing: Postdoc fellows may help professors and education leaders to prepare grant applications to secure research fundings.

How to prepare for a postdoc?

1. Obtain a doctoral degree

The pre-requisite to become a postdoc researcher is to obtain a doctoral degree. You can obtain a Doctor of Philosophy (PHD), Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S).

2. Gain research experience

To be competitive for postdoc positions, you need more than just a completed PHD. You need to demonstrate strong research skills of between 2-5 years. Consider obtaining research experience from an education or professional program.

3. Choosing the Right Postdoc

When selecting a postdoc, consider factors such as the research focus, the reputation of the institution, and the potential for professional growth. Align the postdoc with your long-term career goals to ensure it enhances your professional trajectory

3. Choosing the Right Postdoc

It is important to craft a strong CV and cover letter: Tailor these documents to highlight your research achievements and alignment with the postdoc position.

Consider writing a compelling research proposal: Clearly outline your research plans and how they fit with the prospective mentor’s lab​.

Finally, preparing for interviews: Be ready to discuss your previous research, your future plans, and how you can contribute to the lab​.

Finding Postdoctoral Opportunities

For those seeking postdoc positions, AcademicJobs is a valuable resource. This platform offers a comprehensive list of postdoctoral job openings across various disciplines. It provides an easy-to-navigate interface where you can filter positions by location, field, and keywords.

How to maximise your postdoctoral experience?

1. Managing Research and Projects

Success in a postdoc requires effective management of research projects. Set clear objectives and create a timeline for achieving your goals. Regularly communicate with your mentor and collaborators to ensure alignment on project expectations and deliverables​

2. Mentorship and Professional Development

A good mentor can make a significant difference in your postdoc experience. Seek multiple mentors to gain diverse perspectives on your research and career development. Regular feedback and mentorship can provide invaluable guidance and open doors to new opportunities​.

3. Writing and Submitting Papers

Publishing your research is a cornerstone of the postdoctoral experience. Focus on writing clear, impactful papers and choose appropriate journals for submission. Engage with the peer-review process actively and be open to constructive criticism​

4. Presenting at Conferences

Regularly presenting your work at conferences helps build your academic reputation and receive feedback from the broader research community. Practise your presentation skills and be prepared to discuss your findings in detail​

University lecturer salary in Australia: average AUD 115,000 per year, with entry-level at AUD 79,970 and experienced up to AUD 140,000.

How are Postdocs funded?

Postdocs are funded in many ways. Some postdocs are salaried employees of universities, institutions and companies. Other times, funding for postdoctoral research often comes from grants, fellowships, or institutional support. It is important to explore various funding sources early and apply to multiple opportunities to increase your chances of securing funding​


Becoming a postdoctoral researcher is a significant step in an academic career, offering opportunities to deepen research expertise and build a strong professional network. By carefully selecting a postdoc position, actively engaging in research and professional development, and utilising resources like AcademicJobs, you can set yourself up for success in your postdoctoral journey and beyond.

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