When preparing an application for a position, it goes without saying that everyone wants to make the strongest possible case for themselves. Hence, it seems that the best strategy would be to wait until the last possible moment - just in case in the meantime an acceptance letter comes from that journal where you submitted the paper half a year ago or your latest project reaches a stage when it can be posted on arXiv.

However, I am wondering if this is reasonable. Presumably, whoever is assessing the applications has internet access and can easily check if there are any updates (say, by visiting the personal webpage or googling the applicant's name). Since application procedures tend to be somewhat lengthy, I would also imagine that hiring committees are well aware that the applicants accomplishments can increase in the meantime.

[The position I have in mind is maths postdoc, but I welcome a broader perspective.]

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    My guess is that hiring committees, like everyone else, will put things off as long as possible, and will not read applications at all until after the deadline. In some cases there could be rules that forbid them from reading applications early, to ensure that they look at all applications together and don't get a bias for or against early applications. Nov 15, 2018 at 18:53
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    As a hiring manager for post-doc positions, I will evaluate based on the submitted paperwork, and that paperwork only. I will not google an applicant's name. However, the lab's on-line application system does allow a candidate to update the application materials. The existence of one extra paper or so is unlikely to tip the scales on an evaluation. I've never thought 'if they just had one more paper...'.
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 15, 2018 at 19:24
  • @JonCuster Why not turn that into an answer?
    – Tommi
    Nov 15, 2018 at 20:19
  • @MorganRodgers - I guess I'd say that it really doesn't make a difference, since I know that the numbers are highly variable early on. What is their work on, who are they working with/for, have they produced something of interest. Whether it is 2, 3, or 4 papers as of application isn't really material. Zero publications is bad. Eight papers, 3 first author, is really good. In between it is pretty much not an issue.
    – Jon Custer
    Nov 15, 2018 at 21:36
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    @JonCuster Right, but as soon as you qualify about "first author," it's clear that you are in a totally different field from math. I don't especially disagree that you're unlikely to change your about a postdoc based on one acceptance, but it's a much more conceivable thing in math. Nov 16, 2018 at 1:59

1 Answer 1


My recommendation is first that you don't worry too much about it, but I think there is an important exception: if you are applying using MathJobs, then you should apply once you have your documents ready, hopefully at least a couple of days before the deadline. In particular, you should not wait for your references to add their letters if that is the only thing you're waiting for. Those will show up when they are available, but it's much better for someone to see your application is there without all the letters, than for you to get lost right in the avalanche when everybody else submits right at the deadline. Similarly, you can update your CV, so there's no reason to wait in hope of another paper to getting accepted.

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