Support for Managers who supervise Postdocs

Most researchers strive for an academic career. But only a smal amount of all postdocs in Germany are becoming a professorship. For this reason, young academics would like support in career planning from various sides, including you as managers. It is therefore important to discuss career prospects at an early stage. Successful careers for your postdocs also cast a positive light on you and your research group.

Our information is designed to help you discuss career prospects with your early career researchers.

The question of “Where should the journey take us?” plays a central role in the future career planning of academic staff, since it is particularly a question of the far-reaching decision as to whether they want to and should (continue to) pursue an academic career.

Preparation for career talks for managers

The annual interview at the JGU has established itself as an important instrument of leadership and personnel development. It has three focal points: work tasks & environment, cooperation & leadership and perspectives & development opportunities. The annual interview initiated by you as a manager therefore offers an ideal opportunity to discuss career prospects within or beyond science with your junior scientists.

Before conducting the interview, some questions should be answered by you as a manager.

  1. Do I want to and can I offer the employee a contract extension or continued employment?
    How much time is left for the current qualification goal?
    How long would a temporary follow-up employment be legally possible?
  2. What career development do I consider suitable for my employee?
    Is he or she suitable for an academic career path?
    What non-academic perspectives do I see for professional development as a manager?
  3. General questions, both for academic and non-academic career paths, include:
    • What competencies does the employee already have?
      What should be developed further, if necessary?
    • Which support possibilities can I offer for the career path (e.g. networks, conferences, publications)?
    • Which network contacts can I offer the employee?

Based on the feedback from this interview, your employees should be able to actively plan their career path further in a structured way.

The guide to the annual interview supports you in inviting and conducting meetings.

Information on the Act of Academic Fixed Term Contract can be found further down on this website.

Your role as a “Career Advisor”

Superiors cannot and should not assume the role of "career advisors". They provide professional support and take on a part of the consulting work for the planning of scientific career paths.

Based on your own scientific experience, “plan B” often seems to be an emergency solution or even a failure. With this bias and the variety of roles as supervisor, advisor, evaluator and mentor, you cannot take on a neutral advisory position that is necessary for the confidentiality and effectiveness of the advice.

Superiors should be aware of the diversity of career paths, and there should be openness and acceptance towards them. They should be well informed about career development opportunities at the university so that they can recommend them to post-doctoral students.

If you have questions about career perspectives, academic and non-academic, interview preparation, or career options for individuals, you can take advantage of the counseling services for managers offered by Human Resources Development.

Important framework conditions

In the guidelines for good work (only available in German), the JGU promises to qualify young academics for national and international employers within and outside the university sector. Advice and information in career planning, especially from the supervising professors, are of particular importance [...].

The interview on career perspectives is therefore a central instrument with which you can meet these requirements. You should be aware that universities educate for our society and for research. The very diverse options of non-academic career paths are valued just as highly as academic career paths.

The aim of the Guidelines of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz for the Promotion of Young Researchers (only available in German) is to set out the JGU's self-image in dealing with its young scientists and to formulate standards which are supported by the entire university and which are thus effective in terms of both the attitude and actions of its members. Decisive factors here are:

  • enabling and promoting early academic independence, and
  • appropriate recognition of the achievements of young scientists, and
  • the acceptance and assumption of responsibility by caregivers and carers.

For more than 10 years, the topic of leadership has been a central concern at JGU. The project "JGU Leadership - Shaping Change" (only available in German) started the process of further developing our leadership culture by developing common leadership guidelines for the entire JGU. Since 2012, the implementation of these leadership guidelines has been realized with a variety of measures and strategic concepts.

The Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz (WissZeitVG - The Law for Academic Fixed Term Contracts) regulates the employment periods for young scientists before and after their doctorate at a university.

Scientific and artistic personnel can be employed for a limited period of time without any objective reason for a maximum of six years before the doctorate and a maximum of six years (in the case of medicine, a maximum of nine years) after the doctorate.

Further contracts are only possible subsequently if an unlimited contract is concluded or if an exceptional reason applies, e.g. fixed-term contract after third-party funding or with a representative.
Temporary contracts on the basis of Grundlage des §2 Abs.1 WissZeitVG are only permissible if the employment is for the purpose of promoting one’s own scientific or artistic qualification. It is therefore necessary to state a qualification objective.

The colleagues of the Personnel Department will be happy to advise and support you with regard to the Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz (§ 2 Abs. 1). For individual questions, please contact your contact person in the Personnel Department.

This information should serve as a first source of information. It does not replace individual advice from the Human Resources department and is not legally binding.