Searching for Your First Job:
Once you are finished with your formal training, you search for your first position. You should have been exploring job prospects well in advance of completing your training. Initial contacts can be made at scientific meetings, with visiting lecturers and through other informed means. Your supervisor and other department members can be very helpful as well. Even if you are applying for a position at your current institution or at one you know well, treat it like an unknown entity. You now have to look at it from a faculty point of view and not from that of a trainee, which are very different perspectives. It does not hurt your cause to interview at several institutions so that you learn about the interview process and find out what each institution is offering. This is helpful in understanding how to rate an offer and how to frame your negotiations. Understand the market pressures in academic medicine so you can pursue appropriate negotiations.
In answering advertisements, provide a well presented CV that is clear and unambiguous. Identify your role in publications, especially multi-authored ones. Do not mix abstracts with publications. List chapters, books, other non-peer reviewed articles separately. Present a well thought out research plan that is not too long but is innovative in nature and feasible at the institute to which you are applying. Remember the search committee will be receiving many applications to review. You should let your referees know beforehand that they may be contacted and send them a CV and research plan so they understand your current situation and future plans. Referees should know you well and should be able to provide critical analysis of your work and how you work in a group. Collegiality is an important feature in choosing both faculty for departments and investigators for industry. If an individual hesitates when you ask for a reference, do not use them as a referee.
Search committees do expect to see letters from those who know you best, e.g. supervisors, former employers. If these are absent you need to explain why. If you have teaching experience, this is a plus but in many cases teaching experience is limited during your training period. You will present a seminar so search committees and interested faculty and students will be able to view your organizational and presentation skills firsthand and see how you handle a discussion of your work in the question period. Make sure you bring the appropriate format to present your talk so as to avoid a technical problem arising during the presentation. Offer to check the AV equipment beforehand.
An essential feature of your interviews is to clearly understand and be able to articulate what you want your job description to be. Even have it written down in your own notes. Know where you can be flexible and where you cannot. A tactic to be avoided is to modify your job description during your interviews to suit the need of the institution. This is not useful since it questions your motivation. An attitude that conveys the notion that "I will do anything to get a job at your institution" is not a strong selling point at all.
Know as much as you can about the department you visit and the overall institution as well. Review web sites. Be familiar with the research that is on going and know who is doing what. Know what the priority programs are in the department and at the institution. Identify potential collaborators before your visit by reviewing information on the departmental and institutional websites. Know who you will meet and review their work and publications. Even before you arrive, have a set of questions that you need answered in this first visit. Remember this is a first visit so not everything needs to be covered and specifics are not always necessary. Your main objective is to determine whether this is a suitable place to initiate and develop your career and to live. The search committee wants to know if you have what it takes to set up an independent productive research program, if your program fits well with the department's research, teaching, and clinical care goals and objectives, and if you yourself will fit well into the collegial group of faculty in the department. Show enthusiasm for the position and convey a sense that you are very interested in the position. This is best conveyed by demonstrating that you are well prepared for your visit.
Do not be shy to discuss salary, start-up and space, but that can be done in general terms. Do see the space offered. The real negotiating usually occurs on your second visit when details are very important. Investigate granting opportunities from relevant agencies. Inquire about internal grant competitions. Is there support and mentorship for junior faculty when they apply for initial grant funding? You will then provide the Chair or Director with a list of equipment that you need - either as your own or as communal infrastructure equipment to which you need unrestricted access. Indicate how frequent this access is and ask what the user cost will be. Your start-up need not reflect a specific dollar value. It is more important to make sure you have what you need to start your program and to work for at least three years without external funding. The total dollar value then depends on what you need and should reflect the true costs at the specific institution. For example, salaries for support staff vary in different locations. You should have as much of what you need as possible when you arrive. Waiting for labs to be built or renovated and equipment to arrive may delay you considerably. Setting up a functional laboratory usually takes longer than you expect. Thus, finish as much work as you can in your postdoctoral laboratory so that publications will come out as you set up your own laboratory in the new facility. There may be some overlap as you wind down your postdoctoral position and begin your faculty position and you may find yourself commuting for a short period of time.