Guide to hiring in CSIC

Hiring new scientists in CSIC can be a cumbersome process, not only because of the bureaucracy involved in it but also due to the uncertainty in the interpretation of contract models and the requirements imposed on both the candidate and the PI that offers the contract. This document aims to help ease this uncertainty and face the process with enough preparation and confidence. For that, we have structured it as follows:

Contract models

The hierarchy of contracts in CSIC and other public research institutions in Spain is very complicated, because it tries to accommodate all sorts of regulations, from an obsolete contract negotiation that applies to the administration in general (and makes little sense for scientists), to specific training contracts that are adapted to training grants. We will avoid the latter and describe only those associated to postdoctoral and Ph.D. students:

  • Group M2. This contract only requires the candidate to have at least a bachelor’s degree (diplomado in Spanish), as understood by the Bologna convention and Spain’s academic regulations.
  • Group M3. This contract requires the candidate to have a degree and an MSc title, both of which must be properly certified (See below).
  • Contratado fuera de convenio titulado superior (TS FC). This is a specific category for highly skilled workers with unique qualifications, for instance, based on previous appointments or special training. It only requires a certification of a degree. However, unlike groups M2 and M3, this type of contract requires specific authorization by HR, which needs to be properly justified by the PI.
  • Contratado fuera de convenio doctor (Dr FC). Like the previous contract, this requires authorization from HR and is once more aimed at highly skilled workers with, in this case, both a degree and a Ph.D. title. Unfortunately, unless the candidate has a Spanish Ph.D., the homologation of this title is a way more cumbersome, lengthy, and expensive process than the contracts above, which is why we discourage using this category, even when justified.

Note that a graduate degree is typically four years long. Italian Laureates or UK Bachelors can not apply to the last three contract types unless they have additional academic credits, e.g., from an MSc in Physics, which allows them to ask for an “equivalence” certification.

Certification of academic qualifications

As you may have guessed from the text above, each type of contract requires different paperwork by the PI but also by the candidate. This paperwork is summarized in the table below:

TS FCEquivalence
Dr. FCEquivalenceHomologation
Required certifications for each contract category.

The way to read this is as follows:

  • If the candidate has a Spanish degree, MSc, or Ph.D. title, she has to do nothing: the official documents accrediting their education will be accepted.
  • If the candidate has studied abroad, she needs to certify the corresponding title in one of two processes:
    • The “equivalence” process is a certification done by the Ministry of Universities, which ensures that the number of credits and the subjects the candidate studied led to a compatible title (loosely) to the Spanish academic space.
    • The “homologation” is a stronger certification that is done by the Ministry of Universities (degrees) or by a university (Ph.D.) that certifies that the degree is fully compatible with a Spanish one in the professional sense. It is much harder to obtain because it is a lengthier process. In particular, homologating the Ph.D. requires finding a university that offers a compatible Ph.D. program where the thesis could have been defended. The candidate must provide an English copy of the thesis with a few-page summary in Spanish, pay the fees, and let the Ph.D. program accept (or not) the thesis in a few months.

The only “good” thing for foreigners is that in most paperwork (inscriptions in Job Market, contracts, etc.), candidates may be allowed to present just a receipt showing that they have asked for the equivalence or homologation or both. CSIC will then proceed to make the contract as usual, monitoring whether this equivalence application succeeds.

Hiring Process

There are up to three contract tracks, depending on the funding source.

1) Ordinary funding

The hiring process for ordinary contracts, such as those created with funding from national and EU projects, involves a six-step process:

  1. Candidate pool. Candidates should registered and approved into the Job Market. This lengthy process takes up to one month, with instructions on the linked webpage.
  2. Contract petition. When sufficient candidates are in the database, the PI may open the contract using CSIC’s intranet application. This is typically an iterative process that involves sending back and forth a description for the contract, including the attributions, contract bracket (described above), source of funding, and required qualifications and areas from the Job Market whose candidate can apply.
  3. Candidate application. Once the contract is approved, it will appear in the job database, and suitable candidates will receive a notification to register. This process typically lasts until all candidates from the database have said yes or no to this notification, with a waiting period of up to two weeks.
  4. Candidate selection. The corresponding institute will nominate a jury panel to decide among potential candidates, providing marks added to the ones the candidate received automatically in the Job Market.
  5. Provisional list. The result from the evaluation is published, and one week is left for claims and potential redressing.
  6. Contract signature. Once this step is completed, the institute management office will write down a contract the candidate must sign. Typically, this involves providing print copies of all the certifications (degrees) attached in the Job Market, a medical certificate of suitability, and bank account details.

2) Grants

This hiring process is designated for Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers who have won their funding in some competitive process, such as Marie Curie fellowships or Spanish Ph.D. grants.

  1. Contract model selection. This is a first step, in which the management office will fit the candidate into one of the contract models described above, typically choosing between M2 and M3.
  2. Contract signature. This is the last step described above, in which the candidate must provide all the documentation required for the contract (i.e. degrees certifications, medical suitability certificate, bank account certificate).

Note that the candidates must have the required certifications for the category that suits their grant. This is a crucial step. While in the ordinary contract process, any mistake in this is notified in step 1 (because those certifications are checked before acceptance into the Job Market), this is only verified when the contract is produced. Thus, a scientist with a degree in Physics from Univ. of Munich may be awarded a Marie Curie grant but finds herself blocked from a contract because she did not start the degree equivalence certification process.

3) Regional contracts and other calls

This hiring process is similar to independent grants and applies, for instance, to projects funded by the Autonomous Region of Madrid. In this case, the project call involves two steps:

  1. Opening of contract in an independent Job Market. In Madrid, this involves opening the contract with an adequate description in Madri+D’s Job Market, where the PI can register the position, receive CVs and accept the final candidate.
  2. Contract signature. This is the last step described above, in which the candidate must provide all the documentation required for the contract (i.e. degrees certifications, medical suitability certificate, bank account certificate).

The same remark as in the case of grants applies here: the candidate’s certifications are only verified by CSIC in the last step, as Comunidad de Madrid and other job markets have more loose requirements. Hence, the PI must help the candidate apply for the required equivalence certificates.

Opening a position in CSIC’s intranet

The following documentation describes how the SOLAUT application works in CSIC, and the steps to create a position in the “ordinary” procedure introduced before. The process described by CSIC’s application, with the flowchart below, is extremely daunting. Hence, clearer steps are needed to understand how it works in practice.

1) Position description

The first step is to select in the application the project that will fund this position, the contract category (group M3, M2, etc), contract start date and job description. Be careful with the start date, considering the steps mentioned above. Consult your management office for a realistic date to avoid false expectations.

Equally important is to fill in a purely scientific job description. For some reason, HR considers that tasks such as writing papers, defending work in conferences, or supervising students are not valid attributions for any scientific contract. Avoid writing them down even if they were specified in the project call.

This particular contract, for instance, was an M3 one devoted to the scientific management of a collaborative grant. It is a part-time job for a manager who wants to share responsibilities with a different project, hence the reduced working time.

2) Job market options

The next and very important step is to select which categories within the Job Market your candidates are pulled from. This is a relevant step in which you should match the expertise required for your group’s project with the same tick boxes that potential candidates have used. If people you know could be interested did not tick the same boxes, they will not have the option to enter this contract, hence the recommendation of assisting candidates in their registration in the Job Market.

3) Degrees

The next page is called “Titulaciones / Especialidades” and is another filter for the Job Market. If you selected M2, you will be offered several degrees that exist in Spain. Your candidates should have one of those degrees or an equivalence certificate to one of them. The typical one for our group is “Graduado en Ciencias Físicas” or similar.

If you choose M3, a similar option is offered but now including both degrees and MSc qualifications; this is more delicate, and you should inspect which compatibilities potential candidates have requested from the Ministry of Education.

4) Documentation

The last step is to attach information about the contract. The only compulsory document is the “Memoria justificativa,” a PDF in which you have to justify why this contract is needed by the project that funds it. It helps to draft this justification by referencing the scientific description of the project, which you can attach as another PDF under “Resolución de concesión…”.

The format of the “Memoria justificativa” for M2/M3 contracts is a free-form letter with an official signature by the PI. However, in the case of contracts of type “Fuera de Convenio,” the official format is given by this PDF (permissions to access the Intranet might be required to read this document).

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