If a professor shares their office phone number on their website, can I make a call and ask them about postdoc positions? What should I say to them?

  • 1
    Can you explain why you're considering doing that rather than reaching out via email? Or even - calling the departmental secretariat?
    – einpoklum
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 13:32
  • Most people are recommending against it. I also recommend against it, albeit not as strongly. Because there is a close to 0% chance that the PI will actually answer the phone, it will probably just be a waste of OP's time with no consequence.
    – emory
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 23:02
  • Is it their (as in "personal, managed by them") or "their on the school website, automatically generated" (basically a directory) . If this is the second they may have no say about whether the phone numbers are displayed or not. In any case, I would not call.
    – WoJ
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 14:48
  • Thanks for comments and answers! I did not call the PI, which was 100% the correct choice! I really don't know what was I thinking... Commented Mar 30, 2022 at 19:36

4 Answers 4


Personally, I wouldn't attempt it. If you interrupt something they consider serious they won't like it much. And, what can they say but to look for published announcements? Do you think they want to listen to your qualifications in real time? It is just to easy to hang up, as you might do for any marketing call.

A short introductory email would be preferable. Say who you are. A sentence about your interest. A couple of sentences about your qualifications. Offer to provide any additional information needed. Ask for a reply.

The email can be handled asynchronously, which is much easier. If it is short then it might be read.

But, I suggest saving phone calls for people you already know and who won't mind being interrupted.

And a long and tedious mail will get put on the back burner, maybe forever. Don't include CVs and such in the initial contact. Wait for a follow up request.

  • 16
    Actually, I would say it is fine to include a CV with an introductory e-mail. This saves the person you are contacting the effort of first having to ask for one, and is easily ignored if they are not interested.
    – TimRias
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 6:56
  • 8
    Keep the email short. Do attach a CV (they can always choose not to read the attachment). And if you really like to have a phone call you could suggest that option in your email. I know some professors who prefer speaking to people over communicating by email, but only after an initial contact has been established. I do not know many people (professors included) who enjoy cold calls.
    – Louic
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 8:07

In this day and age, it is almost never appropriate to cold call anybody. This includes (but is certainly not limited to) any potential future employers.

Phone calls are a very intrusive way of trying to contact someone, and best reserved for urgent communication that requires an immediate reply. By choosing to cold call someone, you are effectively asserting that your call is urgent. When it turns out it is not (like enquirying about a potential future post-doc position) this is likely to annoy whoever it is that you are calling.

TL;DR Do not cold call people.


This is a horrible idea!

What is stopping you from emailing him/her?


Other answers advise against, which seems very reasonable.

Another option is; do it and pay attention to how people respond. This way you will learn by experience whether you think it's a good method or not for next time.

  • As an experimentalist I'm generally all for trying things to see what happens. However, while I'm not completely sure what will happen when I poke a bear with a sharp stick, I'm just not going to do it.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 16:23
  • @JonCuster I agree that you have to have some boundaries with this approach. If someone was asking, 'I really want to steal people's phones should I do it or not?', I wouldn't advise trying it out to see what happens
    – Jojo
    Commented Mar 24, 2022 at 16:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .