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I recently finished my Ph.D., and joined a private company in the industry.

A few months before defending my thesis, I received an offer for a post-doc position; the offer was very interesting, but I declined it because I wanted to move to the industry (I have always been in academia).

Now, after some months in the industry, I realized that this is not what I want to do, and I am back on my search for a postdoc.

Question: how bad is it to contact the professor that made me the rejected postdoc offer, asking if the position is still open?

  • "upon further consideration and introspection I've come to the conclusion that is best for my interests to accept your offer, when do I start?" more or less :) – nodws Dec 21 '18 at 18:53
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People change their minds. This is a reality.

It would not hurt you to ask if the position is still open. Explain the situation and ask if they would still be interested in hiring you for a post-doc. Be warned that it is very possible that they will just write back and tell you that they are no longer interested or that the position has been filled.

Be prepared to explain why you suddenly want to pursue the post-doc that you previously turned down. Be careful to avoid sounding like you have issues with commitment. Do not speak ill of your industry work.

In the end, even if the professor rejects you for the post-doc, I highly doubt that it would cause you further issues. It is not like the professor would write to all of his/her colleagues and inform them that you are looking for a post-doc, and that they should blacklist you.

One last thing I will add: Maybe do not quit your job in industry quite yet. It is much easier to apply for post-docs when you have a steady pay check than when you are unemployed. This will allow you to make decisions without having to consider immediate money concerns quite as much.

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    +1 - Nothing bad comes out of asking the professor and explaining the situation with honesty in this case - unless they aren't all that reasonable, in which case you probably wouldn't want to work with them, anyway. – osuka_ Dec 20 '18 at 2:56

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