For example, did I make the research statement too technical, etc.?

Also, is it true that a lot of applications don't even get looked at?

  • 9
    My guess? Your application was too short and lacked detail. Feb 1, 2023 at 11:43
  • 9
    You are assuming you did something wrong, which is not necessarily the case, there are not enough postdoctoral positions for every PhD graduate.
    – Dr. Snoopy
    Feb 1, 2023 at 11:51
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? What are the main reasons postdoc applicants get rejected?
    – Anyon
    Feb 1, 2023 at 12:59
  • 2
    The search committee isn't going to give you any detailed feedback. If you worry about your research statement being too technical, you need to show it to a trusted senior colleague and ask for feedback. Feb 1, 2023 at 15:17
  • 2
    Your other questions indicate you are in math. If you look at recent survey data from the AMS, you will see that only about 50% of new PhDs get an academic position (about 10% are unemployed; some but not all of the remaining 40% wanted an academic position but didn't find one). Of those getting an academic position, some of the other data suggest about 50% are postdocs, 20% are (almost always teaching-oriented) tenure-track positions, and 30% are teaching-oriented non-tenure track (temporary or permanent) positions. Moral: what Dr.Snoopy said. Feb 1, 2023 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


Postdocs are expensive. Most people don't have enough spare money laying around to hire one, even if an amazing postdoc candidate comes to their desk.

The other issue is integrating postdocs with a new research group. PIs don't want to just hire a bunch of independent people, they should have a clear vision for how their team works together. In other words, there are a lot of factors outside of your control (what type of person/expertise is each PI needing right now? It might not match your background. Or in other words, it's not that you were necessarily bad, you just weren't the right researcher for the job).

  • 1
    While postdocs are more expensive than a graduate student, they are less expensive than a professor or staff member. But there are fewer postdoc positions than graduate student positions.
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 1, 2023 at 15:14
  • In math most postdocs are not funded by grants. Feb 1, 2023 at 20:30
  • True @Moishe I'm speaking from my experience, which is in engineering in the US
    – Taw
    Feb 1, 2023 at 20:32
  • Yes, engineering is quite different, but OP appears to be in math. Feb 1, 2023 at 20:39
  • "Postdocs are expensive" This depends on the situation. Compared to a graduate student on a RAship, they're often equal: the rise in salary is about the same as the cost of graduate student tuition and fees. In some private schools with high fees and fields where postdoctoral pay is low, you actually save money. The postdoc tends to be more productive, without a lengthy class/exam period, so the work per dollar is better. Finally, there is funding specifically for postdocs, so it doesn't come out of the same pot of money.
    – user71659
    Mar 31, 2023 at 3:26

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