I will soon be in my final PhD year and am about to start my job search. Suppose that for some reason I suspect that I did quite well, research-wise. My main question is:
What is the optimal job search strategy/advice in this case?
Generally, I can think of two options that are "better" than a regular postdoc:
- A fancy fellowship or a named postdoc position
- A tenure-track (TT) position
First, do I have to decide between postdoc and tenure track before getting an actual offer? That is, is there anything special I need to do when applying for tenure track besides pressing buttons on mathjobs.org? (Also, is there an option I missed?)
Second, I have questions about each option.
Option 1: Is there a comprehensive list of "really good" postdoc fellowships? Or can we combine a list here? I know that there is Clay fellowship, Miller fellowship at Berkeley, Society fellowship at Harvard, Veblen instructorship at IAS. What other well-known similar positions come to your mind? How do they compare between each other, and to a regular postdoc or a tenure track?
Option 2: Since this depends on many random factors, it seems like if I apply two times, that is, apply next year and then (if I only get a postdoc) apply after my postdoc ends, the probability of landing a nice TT job increases. On the other hand, the quality of a TT job offer I can get after a postdoc will likely be higher because I will have better publications. So I'm not sure whether it is even worth it to seek a TT position now as opposed to settle for a postdoc right now and just apply for TT in 3 years after it ends. Although I've seen people switch between TT jobs, I don't know how common that is. Also, how much of a blocking factor here will be not having lots of teaching experience? (I have some but not as much as most postdocs.) Finally, I understand that when applying for postdoc, I should prefer schools where my area is represented best, but this seems not too crucial when applying for TT, right?
To be specific, the field is pure math, the country is US, and I am not eligible for NSF.
A couple of other disclaimers: I understand that the answer depends on my priorities, so let's say the top priority is landing the "best" possible tenured position I can at some point in the next ~7-10 years (which includes not having to teach too much before getting a TT job offer; money is not too important to me personally at this point). I also understand that it's very hard to tell objectively how good my research is, but for the sake of argument let's assume that it's good enough, comparable to other TT job applicants.