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A colleague of mine has a tenured position in mathematics in Europe. He is interested to move to another country (US, Canada). In order to increase his chances to find a job, he does not mind to apply not only for tenured positions, but also for tenure track positions.

Will that increase his chances for a job? How common is such situation?

ADD: I am wondering whether my colleague might be considered as overqualified for a tenure track position.

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  • Somewhat related: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/171352/…
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 16, 2023 at 14:07
  • Of course it will increase his chances, just because there are loads more tenure-track openings. As for how much, that depends on how attractive he is compared to the regular tenure track pool.
    – Kimball
    Jun 19, 2023 at 16:44

3 Answers 3

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Most people (I'd guess) moving jobs in the US, even from tenured positions have to go through a probationary period, though for a shorter period of time, perhaps two years. I've done that. It is theoretically tenure track, though not necessarily at the Assistant Professor level. In particular I was a Full Professor and kept that rank.

But this is something that can possibly be negotiated with an institution, provided they are willing to accept someone at that level and have the funds and flexibility to do so.

There are exceptions for superstars in a field, of course.

If they've advertised for an Assistant Professor position on Tenure Track they may be bound by that, or not. But it is worth talking to them to see what the options are. With a decent publication record and recommendations from colleagues it might be possible, though not everywhere.

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It is definitely possible to apply for such positions; in fact I know people who have exactly moved from a permanent position in Europe to a tenure-track position in NA.

Key points:

  1. It is often possible to negotiate early consideration for tenure or even tenure on hire. This can be brought up in the cover letter, during the interview, or when negotiating the offer
  2. In the cover letter the applicant must make it clear they understand what position they are applying for and what they want -- otherwise they could be ignored as too senior. For example you can say "I understand this is a TT position and will definitely accept a TT offer". You can also add "ideally I'd like to be offered a tenured position or, failing that, a promise to early consideration for promotion and tenure". Conversely if you won't accept a TT offer you can say "I know this was advertised as a TT position -- would you consider making a tenured offer instead?" in which case the department will consider your case only if that is possible.
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In US institutions, once you have tenure, it is up to you/the hiring institution to negotiate being hired with tenure. This is not at all uncommon, but if the position is advertised at the Assistant level, being hired with tenure is rare due to federal or state laws.

Of course, if the position is at the Assistant, Associate or Full Professor rank, it is assumed that the new colleague will join the institution at the rank they have already earned. If the position is at the Assistant professor level, and the applicant has tenure, I would advise having that conversation only after receiving an offer. A possibility could be to negotiate a quicker (up when ready) tenure clock where the new hire's existing CV is counted towards tenure at the new institution.

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    being hired with tenure is rare due to federal or state laws - I agree it's rare, but I don't think it's because of laws, but internal university reasons (budget being a large one).
    – Kimball
    Jun 19, 2023 at 16:42

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