Postdoctoral research experience is often one of the requirements for a position leading an externally funded junior research group. In many cases, an appointment to a junior professorship also does not immediately follow completion of a doctoral program.
As a result, many young scholars and scientists initially prefer to take on positions as researchers in staff positions or externally funded projects headed by a principal investigator, advancing their knowledge in previous areas of concentration or realigning their academic focus. Higher education institutions generally operate online job databases where these positions are advertised, but other relevant online job platforms, newsletters, and websites of professional associations are also good sources.
If you have an idea for a project, you can apply to the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) for funding for your own position as part of an externally funded project. (Please do bear in mind, however, that the average waiting time between submission of an application and the decision whether to fund the project is six to nine months.) You can also do research at a university under a scholarship, grant, or fellowship, most of which are limited to periods of one to two years.
Since international research experience is becoming more and more important – and is in fact a requirement for applying to many programs for junior scholars and scientists – it is also a good idea for graduates of doctoral programs to pursue their research abroad. Those choosing this path can also apply for vacant positions, but various funding organsiations also offer specific programs aimed at providing opportunities for young scientists to do research in an international environment.