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I may have a postdoc job offer. The professor for the postdoc still hesitates to make a final decision and asked me if I can confirm my commitment (working for at least one year). I have finished one-year postdoc (not at the professor's institution) and have been very actively looking for faculty positions.

If I make the commitment, does that mean I have to stop applying faculty positions, at least for the first year? I am not sure if this is common practice for postdoc-supervisors.

  • 3
    A postdoc position is not a reason to stop applying for faculty positions. A postdoc is a stepping stone towards a faculty position. If you manage to get a faculty position you don't need the stepping stone anymore and should quit and start the new position. Any reasonable advisor should support that. – Roland Oct 17 at 13:52
  • This is totally backwards. First the offer, then you commit yourself. – Karl Oct 17 at 21:23
  • @Karl it's very common for people to not want to make an offer unless you assure them you will accept it. Along the same lines, they may only want to hire you if you assure them you will stay. It's pretty one-sided of course, but you are free to refuse to make such assurances. You are also usually free to renege on your promise, with usually no more than some guilt and a burned bridge to worry about. But, as always, be careful what you sign... – A Simple Algorithm Oct 17 at 22:04
  • @ASimpleAlgorithm It`s fair to say "I will kick off your hiring process, (starting with a formal offer), if you say you intend to stay for a full year, and confirm that you have no other obligations." The question reads a bit differently to me. – Karl Oct 17 at 22:39
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    @Karl Hmm I think I do see a difference of interpretation here. I understand the question to use the word "commitment" as in the job contract itself, once made. The OP is asking if they are truly stuck once they sign on the dotted line. The title of the question would seem to support this reading. – A Simple Algorithm Oct 17 at 22:54
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Don't stop exploring other positions, as long as you give the current prospective position the same amount of attention as if you weren't applying for other positions.

Remember that the academic hiring cycle is usually several months long. Applications you submit now will land you interviews in the spring, with jobs starting in the fall - nearly a year from the application time! If the professor is only willing to give you a one year commitment, you may need to start applying for faculty jobs this cycle to have a job lined up when their commitment to you ends.

In that time period it's also to your benefit to work hard turning the crank and getting out publications that you can show off during your on-site interviews. Thus, your goals (to get publications to land a job) and your prospective boss's goals (get publications out of the postdoc for the next grant submission/tenure review/...) are well aligned. Also keep in mind that postdoc is a training period, not just a purgatory you must suffer through to get the faculty position. Presumably you're taking this new position because you believe this professor has the ability to help you get high-level publications and can teach you something about how to be a successful faculty member. Amongst all the applications, interviews, research, etc., don't forget to make the most of your current position and learn what you can from this prospective supervisor.

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Don't stop exploring other positions until you have a firm commitment from the professor. The situation is mutual. You both have to agree before anything is finalized. Until then you are still free to consider all options.

By firm commitment, I mean something that you can put your signature to.

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