Apply for Jobs Even If You Don’t Have Any Publications (Yet)

In one of my last posts, I confessed that I didn’t start applying for jobs until it was already time for me to graduate. One big reason for this was because I was waiting for my first first-author publication, which came out in April of 2015 and I graduated in May of the same year. At that time I felt like my application will not be taken seriously if I have nothing to show for all my claims about the kind of scientist I am (prior to my first first-author publication, I had one middle-author PNAS publication).

I decided to do a post to urge you to NOT do this because having one more publication contributes only minimally to your getting a job in industry. And this may be partially true in academia as well. I learned this from watching my colleagues.

One of my friends who is working at a major biotech company as a  technical representative shared through LinkedIn that his first first-author publication just got published — 2 years after graduation.  He is not alone in this. I have another friend who had a number of middle-author publications and no first-author publication (at the time of his application) got a research position in a major pharmaceutical company last year.

To top this off, one of my very close friends got a postdoctoral position in a lab of Nobel laureate before she had her first publication out, which came out 6 months after she started her postdoc.

My hypothesis behind this is that people understand that publications can take a while to come out and as long as the candidate can practice sound science and has the skills that fit the job description, the rest is not as important. So, if the lack of publication is what is holding you back, please convince yourself that this is by no means a major factor in your gaining employment, especially in industry.


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