Overview of the Postdoc Application Process
Many soon-to-be graduates apply for postdoctoral fellowships in order to gain specialty training in a specific area of health psychology, to start their independent research career, and/or to become eligible for clinical licensure. Most state boards require one year of supervised clinical experience after completing internship in order to be eligible for licensure (approximately 10 states do not as of 2018) but specific requirements vary by state, so be sure to Google the rules and regulations set forth by your state’s board.
August – September: Update Your CV
Give yourself time to add your internship experience, update your dissertation status, and add new skills to your CV. For research postdocs, you’ll want to highlight your research experience, publications, and posters/presentations. For clinical positions, leave the research experience toward the end of your CV in order to highlight your clinical experiences first. Most importantly, have multiple supervisors look it over and provide feedback.
September – December: Start Researching Options
The postdoc application timeline is more fluid than internship, so start looking early and expect that new positions will continue to be posted through January (or later!). You’ll find postdoc openings through APPIC’s UPPD, the Div. 38 General Communications listserv (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to join), this frequently updated SfHP list, APA’s list, and word-of-mouth from mentors/supervisors. Most post doc applications will be due December 1st – January 10th, but deadlines can range from the beginning of October through the end of January and newly funded positions will be posted throughout the spring and summer. Applications are typically submitted through APPIC’s postdoc portal or e-mailed directly to the postdoc training director.
September – December: Write Your Cover Letters
Most applications will require you to submit a cover letter, CV, 2-4 letters of recommendation, and your graduate transcripts. Postdoc cover letters should be tailored to that site’s specific emphasis, and the cover letter should align with your CV and letters of recommendation. Cover letters are typically 1 – 3 pages depending upon your CV and the type of postdoc. Again, you’ll want to have multiple people proofread and provide feedback on your cover letters.
September – December: Approach Letter Writers
As a rule of thumb, speak to potential letter writers early (i.e., at least 6 weeks advanced notice before the application deadline). You’ll want your letter writers to speak to the skills you’ll bring to a particular position, so send them the exact wording of the letter of recommendation instructions provided by each site. You’ll also want to send them your cover letter for that site so that they can make sure their letter’s focus fits into your “story.”
Resources for Postdoc Applicants
- Check out this excellent overview article from APA
- Read these tips for developing a supervision contract before an informal postdoc
- Demystifying the Postdoctoral Experience: A Guide for Applicants
- What You Need to Know to Get Licensed
- To Postdoc or Not to Postdoc?
- How to Find a Postdoc
- Postdoc Opportunities Abound, If You Know Where to Look
- Pursuing the Perfect Research Postdoc
- Running Start… to a Great Career: Before Finding a Postdoc
- Growing Your Own Postdoc
- Learn more about the EPPP licensing exam via the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards
- Requirements for Licensure or Registration to Practice Psychology
- Path to Licensure: What Every Student Should Know