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Help-Job application advice needed!

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Selkie

Ideal_Rock
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Jan 11, 2006
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This is a job application etiquette question, and insight from anyone in academia/science would be very helpful.

I''m a lab manager in a university biology research lab. I''ve been working for the same boss for 8 years, and I love the people I work with, and the work I do. There are always frustrations, of course, but I like the work environment, diversity of tasks, and amount of responsibility I have. Basically, I keep the place running on a nuts and bolts level, and am involved in actual research on several different projects. However: I have been feeling somewhat stagnant, and considering something of a career change for a while. I want to stay in the environmental research/monitoring field, but move over to doing more technical computer mapping and data analysis (partic. GIS, if anyone is familiar with it). I have been taking courses, and learning it on my own, using the data our lab generates. My graphics and maps have been published in a couple of papers and conferences already, so I''d probably be considered to have entry level prospects in this new area.

Here''s my dilemma: Although I''m not very actively seeking a new job, I always keep an eye out for opportunities. Recently, an organization that our lab collaborates with (it''s a REALLY small world) posted a job opening in the field I would like to switch to. It seems to be about my level of expertise, and I think I''d be fairly well qualified for it. It could potentially pay $5-10K more than my current job (and this of course is a big draw). The few people I''ve told have said I should definitely go for it. But, I have both a strong sense of loyalty to my current job, and maybe a wee fear of change, and I think these are hampering me JUST a bit
. People change jobs all the time in academia, just like anywhere else, of course, so I feel a little silly.

It''s also a delicate situation because my boss collaborates with this organization. Normally, I would apply and request that he only be contacted as a reference if they are seriously considering me. However I can''t really do that without a chance of his finding out from someone there. Also, my boss tends to be hotheaded and temperamental, and I honestly fear his reaction if I tell him ahead of time that I''m applying for this job. I don''t think he''d give me a bad recommendation, but I really don''t want to burn any bridges, especially if I don''t get the job.

So, given that I''m 95% sure I''m going to apply (working on a resume and cover letter now), should I:
a) Tell my boss before submitting the app, and ask him to serve as a reference?
b) Submit the app., and request that they not contact him unless they are really interested, and give me the chance to tell him? Any suggestions on how to word that in the cover letter? I''m concerned about sounding sneaky.
c) In my resume, there''s a list of publications including some to which I''ve contributed figures and data but am not the main author. The director of the org. is also a co-author (again, not the first-named) on one that has been accepted for publication. Should I include it, or would it look like I''m trying to claim too much credit?


Any suggestions, advice, and kicks in the pants are greatly appreciated!
 

gailrmv

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 8, 2005
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3,136
I understand where you are coming from, working for several years as a project manager for an academic research project myself!

It depends on your boss. You''ve been there 8 years, and that is a long time. When I told my boss I was applying to grad school, she was happy for me, but that is different than leaving for another job. Do you think he will support your decision to move on/move up? If so, try to get his endorsement. But what if the new job doesn''t come to fruition? Are you committed to leaving, and continuing to search? What happens if you tell him, don''t get the new job, and stay on with your lab for the indefinite future? Would your boss treat you differently/less welll if he knows you are thinking of leaving? If this is a possibility, I would not tell him. It is not uncommon to look for a new job and ask them to keep your application confidential until you get an offer or are close to it. I''ve seen this happen many times. It''s more comfortable on the front end, less so on the back end (when you are trying to leave).

I did see one colleague tell our boss (on email, a faux pas) that she was applying for other jobs. Well, she didn''t get the one she wanted and is still at our project as far as I know - it''s been like 3 years. So, our boss has in the back of her mind that this person might be leaving at any time. It definitely made things awkward for a while.

Good luck!
 

Selkie

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 11, 2006
Messages
2,876
Thanks, gailrmv. My boss and I have had brief discussions in the past about whether I planned to get a doctorate (he hired me right after I completed my M.S.). I also told him, when I got engaged, that my FI and I were discussing moving across the country after the wedding. So there is a certain precedent that if and when I decide to leave, he will be supportive. I don''t intend to leave abruptly, since the hiring process here is SOOOO slow, it would take a month just to get the job posted and start interviewing for my replacement. I''d like to allow him time to at least start the process. Also, I think I''d have a MUCH better chance for the job if he were to serve as a reference for me, as long as he is supportive. If I didn''t get the job, I don''t think it would be a huge issue to stay in my current one. I''ve pretty much decided to talk to him about it, I just have to get up the nerve to do it. I guess I''d rather have some discomfort now, and get it over with, than be worried for a month or two that he would find out. And I will make a note not to tell him on email!!!
 

gailrmv

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 8, 2005
Messages
3,136
Good luck Selkie! Sounds like a great plan and a very supportive boss. I said what I said about email being a faux pas because in our work environment, it was. But every work environment is different so I was not trying to say that it would be a faux pas for you. In our work environment, because it was a small office and our boss prided herself on being very approachable, she wanted anything important to be done face to face. But again, every situation is different. I hope it goes well for you!
 
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