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I am aware of this post Some questions about math postdoc offers but please let me ask a similar question.

I am currently on the math postdoc job market. Some of my friends were informed that they are on the short list but I haven't heard anything from the job market after 2/3 of January. According to the above post, the most job offers are made in the second half of January. I am afraid that all good positions are already taken and I now feel I need to apply for more positions to avoid the worst case.

  1. My webpage counter does not say that many people visited my webpage since Nov. Is this a bad sign? Do hiring committees really visit candidates' webpages?

  2. Are most of the good positions such as "****** assistant professorship" already taken around this time?

  3. Should I send inquiries about my application this week? Or should I wait for another? I hesitate to ask my advisor to do this, so I think I have to do this by myself.

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My webpage counter does not say that many people visited my webpage since Nov. Is this a bad sign? Do hiring committees really visit candidates' webpages?

I wouldn't worry about this, since hiring committees do not necessarily visit web pages, even if they plan to make a postdoc offer. If your application was reasonably detailed and your papers are available elsewhere (for example on the arXiv or as part of your application), then there's no reason why someone would need to visit your web page. Even if your papers aren't available elsewhere, the number of visits you might see is both small and unpredictable.

Are most of the good positions such as "** assistant professorship" already taken around this time?

Almost all of them will be offered to someone by the end of January, but those offers will not all be accepted (so there will be multiple rounds of offers, which may extend beyond the common deadline). I would bet that most, but not all, of the most prestigious positions have already been offered to someone, but I don't know actual statistics.

Note that early offers tend to cluster on the most popular candidates, so substantially fewer people get first-round offers than will eventually be hired.

Should I send inquiries about my application this week? Or should I wait for another? I hesitate to ask my advisor to do this, so I think I have to do this by myself.

Inquiring this week is reasonable. It's worth asking not just your favorite schools, but also schools you are less excited about. (It may signal to them that they have a shot at you after all, and increase the chances that they will make an offer. At this point, you'll presumably be happy to have any reasonable offer, and once you have one you may be able to use it to provoke other places to make offers.) Asking this week leaves a little time for schools to act before the common deadline, although you shouldn't despair even if the deadline goes past.

I now feel I need to apply for more positions to avoid the worst case

If you applied to relatively few schools, it might be a good idea to add some more even now, but don't panic. Unless you're in an unusual situation, your job search doesn't sound really problematic at this point. (I can understand that it is worrisome, but there's a big difference between not getting a first round offer from a top department and not getting a job at all. Of course I can't predict how your job search will end, but I've seen people get excellent offers after having had no signs of interest this late in January.)

Meanwhile, I highly recommend having a chat with your advisor about your job search. If your advisor is not worried, it may help you stay calm, and if you do reach the point where your advisor really starts to worry, I hope he/she will have suggestions for what the two of you can do to make sure you get a job.

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    Thank you for the detailed answer. It relieved my worry (I was too stressed out). I now see how things are going in the job market. – Horrock Jan 21 '14 at 10:39
  • When you say inquiring, do you mean mailing the committee or the professor that I contacted at that school? – the L Jan 23 '14 at 8:03
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    @MathMan: If the professor you contacted is someone you know well (for example, a collaborator), then it could make sense to ask them. The advantage of this is that they may put in a good word for you or report more information than you might otherwise get, but it's asking them to do a little work so it depends on having a personal relationship. In other cases, I'd try to use contact information from the job advertisement, since inquiries sent there will generally make their way to someone whose job is answering them. – Anonymous Mathematician Jan 23 '14 at 14:35
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I am also an applicant this year, and I have heard from some places.

My webpage counter does not say that many people visited my webpage since Nov. Is this a bad sign? Do hiring committees really visit candidates' webpages?

I was able to guess that an offer was on its way (although one is never sure until you have the offer in your hands) by looking at the webpage counter for some schools. However, other offers/shortlists came as a complete surprise, as I had gotten no visits from these schools since I submitted my application. There were also schools who visited my webpage very frequently, but I heard that they offered their position to someone else. To sum up, the webpage counter is not very reliable.

Are most of the good positions such as "** assistant professorship" already taken around this time?

To nitpick, these are not necessarily the best positions. For example, Princeton's postdocs just go by the generic name of "Instructors" (except the top candidate, who is the Veblen Research Instructor). To answer your actual question, several departments have offered most of their positions. On the other hand, many departments have not had their postdoc committee meeting yet; for some, school hasn't even started yet. Also, just be aware that many candidates sit on several offers at the moment, trying to coax a better offer from their top choice etc. But I think that a lot of these positions will free up again on February 3, the common AMS deadline.

Should I send inquiries about my application this week? Or should I wait for another? I hesitate to ask my advisor to do this, so I think I have to do this by myself.

I think you are supposed to talk to your advisor about this! They are there for you, and he/she would be the best judge of your situation. Some advisors can also contact their colleagues to inquire on your behalf, which may be better.

I now feel I need to apply for more positions to avoid the worst case.

How many positions did you apply to? Many fantastic mathematicians apply to 50-60 places. In this case, it is worth applying to more places at this point.

Also, don't stress out! Breathe! As an applicant myself, I know how you feel. It will all work out in the end. You've done all you can, so sit back and relax, and be patient. No matter what happens, you are still a bright mathematician who will be very successful in your career.

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My two cents:

My webpage counter does not say that many people visited my webpage since Nov. Is this a bad sign? Do hiring committees really visit candidates' webpages?

They do but rarely. The standard application file normally contains all information needed for screening and the grapevine provides the rest.

Are most of the good positions such as "** assistant professorship" already taken around this time?

You mean "named assistant professorships"?. Yes, they may well be. However, the normal (nameless workhorse) postdoc offers haven't been even considered yet in many places. The way it usually works is that the tenure track hiring is done first. Another thing is grants. Right where I am, we'll have or not have postdoc positions this year depending on whether we'll get or not get grant funding and nobody expects to hear from the NSF before the end of February (especially after the circus show by our 485 mouth goat herd in Washington D.C.; I still have a strong desire to send them all to deliver the equipment to the Antarctic research stations in small boats with no food; the only thing that would spare them if it were for me to decide is that I would hate to lose the gadgets). So, I wouldn't worry too much yet.

Should I send inquiries about my application this week? Or should I wait for another? I hesitate to ask my advisor to do this, so I think I have to do this by myself.

It never hurts to get the information. Just be careful about how exactly you phrase your request and whom you contact. The last thing I would want as a member of the hiring committee (I was on 3 within the last 5 years) is to have to write "polite and thoughtful" responses to each and every of 70+ postdoc applicants before their consideration has even started.

  • Thank you very much for the detailed answer. I will politely send some inquiries. – Horrock Jan 21 '14 at 10:37

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