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I am going to apply for a competitive European research grant as a postdoc. How does finding a potential mentor in department help me to get postdoc position. Does it really increase my chance to give my application a priority?

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    Hiring postdocs is not like bringing on graduate students, normally. If there is a job posting for a postdoc, it is usually for a specific purpose. Your context could easily be different. But, as a US national lab manager, my postdoc postings are for work with specific staff. Talking to other staff isn't going to help. – Jon Custer Oct 24 '19 at 13:17
  • It is different in some places (e.g. Italy, see my answer): the calls may be topic-specific or even generic, and you can apply without knowing anyone. It is in general however not encouraged, since getting to know the people you would work with beforehand will help you better understand whether you do want to work with them. – Pronte Oct 24 '19 at 13:50
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    Since you explicitly want to apply for a scholarship, the answer depends on the specifics of that scholarship; the application process may require you to specify a mentor. But please be aware that the most common funding option for post-docs are positions in projects, and these don't require you to find a mentor. – lighthouse keeper Oct 24 '19 at 15:24
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    My guess would be yes. Without a hosting institute, your proposal would seem much less thought out and developed. – Richard Erickson Oct 24 '19 at 18:39
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    Are you talking about fellowships such as Marie Curie or ERC? If yes it's practically a must to have a host institution, otherwise your chances are very low. – Erwan Oct 24 '19 at 20:31
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It is in general a good idea, not just for your chances but to ensure you will find a productive or at least welcoming group to work with.

The impact on your success chance I think depends on the country of choice: in some countries (e.g. Italy), postdoc calls are advertised as a public competition with a committee that should judge your CV impartially. In other countries, a professor may hire a postdoc on his personal funds and choose the candidate of his own will. In the latter case having at least some prior contact may be strictly necessary.

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