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I have two related questions, which are similar to my other question

Should I simultaneously apply for multiple jobs in different ranks at the same university?

The first one is say a school is opening a tenure position in the Associate Professor rank. I like to know how the job committee will view the application from a candidate who is currently a postdoc?

The second one is that say the school opens both a tenured-track Assistant Professor and a tenure Associate Professor. Should a candidate who is a postdoc apply to both or only to the tenured-track position? If he/she applies to both, whether that affects his/her application negatively?

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Under most circumstances (not an exceptionally brilliant candidate or a field that is very difficult to recruit in), if a postdoc applies to what is advertised as a tenured associate professor position, then I would interpret the application as asking whether the university might consider hiring at the assistant professor level instead. That's not unreasonable, since job openings do not always get filled the way the department had in mind. The chances are lower if the department is hoping for something else, but it's not impossible.

I'd recommend being explicit about this. If you are actually trying for tenure straight out of a postdoc, you should say so, but it will be a waste of time unless there are unusual circumstances (and it may make you look arrogant or out of touch). If you would like to be considered for a tenure-track position should the department decide to hire at that level instead, then you should make that clear.

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I actually do know of examples of postdocs being hired with tenure. They were people with very strong records, though certainly not solving the Riemann hypothesis (or even necessarily future Fields Medal) caliber. However, I don't think applying for the tenured in addition to TT job will increase the probability of this happening. This something that a university will do if they really badly want you and are worried you will get a TT position somewhere "better," not because you asked politely.

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    I would think that in such cases, the candidate would have been actively (probably aggressively) recruited by the university. I can't imagine that the process started with the postdoc going "Hmm, here's a tenured job posting, I guess I'll send in an application". – Nate Eldredge Sep 15 '13 at 15:40
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    I know such examples too but they all fall into two categories: a very strong candidate, or a very fashionable field (like biomathematics). In both cases Nate's description applies. – fedja Sep 15 '13 at 15:47
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    I agree with @NateEldredge and fedja; I just wanted to emphasize that people who are strong, but not RH level, do get hired into tenured positions. (In that sense I think David Ketcheson's answer was basically right, but stated a little too strongly). You're right that likely this is something where the candidate was being actively recruited, but internal politics are weirder than you might think. As I said, I think it's more significant that whatever happens, it probably won't have made much of a difference where you sent your app on Mathjobs. – Ben Webster Sep 15 '13 at 18:39
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No. Unless you have proved the Riemann hypothesis or cured cancer, you won't be hired into a tenured position straight from a postdoc (in the USA). You should apply for tenure-track assistant professor positions.

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