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I am a postdoc who wishes to apply to a university in the United States for a faculty position in the future. I asked them if I could speak in their seminar, and they invited me.

How should I tell them that I wish to apply there for a faculty position in a year or two, and that they should assess my talk with that in mind?

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    Maybe stating the obvious here, but they aren't going to "assess your talk with that in mind". What you are now doing isn't your job talk, it's not going to replace your job talk. You can make yourself known as a potential candidate down the road and bring yourself into a good position for a future application, but it's not going to replace a real interview / hearing.
    – xLeitix
    Oct 11, 2023 at 13:31
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    Treat every seminar talk as if it is your one and only job talk. Treat every job talk as if it is one of your high-quality seminar talks. Oct 12, 2023 at 22:12

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In universities I have worked at, this is not how junior appointments work. It is more how senior appointments work. You might be able to inquire about the the department and if they expect to have any new lines or retirements in the next couple of years. But not every department gets to hire every year, and often it can be 4-8 years between hires in smaller universities or departments.

They probably already know that you will be on the market in the next couple of years, as you are a postdoc. But it would not hurt to tell them that part. I would not do it in advance, but just as a point of conversation during informal meetings.

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    Yes, they will know that you'll be on the market, but they won't necessarily know you are interested in joining their faculty specifically.
    – Buffy
    Oct 11, 2023 at 19:28
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    You could say something like, “I would consider a university like this to be an excellent job market result. What do you think the chances are that you would be hiring in my field in the next 2-4 years?
    – Dawn
    Oct 12, 2023 at 1:23
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How should I tell them that I wish to apply there for a faculty position in a year or two, and that they should assess my talk with that in mind?

You shouldn't. Don't mention it at all. This is like telling a girl on the first date that you plan to propose to her a few months in the future. I assume you have an intuitive grasp of why that might not be the best idea.

So what should you do instead? Actually, you are doing exactly the right thing by getting yourself an invitation to give a seminar. The next thing to do is to go and give it, and give an amazing talk that leaves a really good impression. Also meet with people at the department on the day of your visit and impress them with how smart you are, how interesting the topics you're working on are, how cool your future research plans are, etc.

If you do all of those things successfully, you are setting the ground in the best possible way for a hypothetical day when you apply for a job at that department. And you will be doing all that without saying anything about your wish to someday get a job there -- an awkward topic that can only detract from people's enjoyment of your visit, and is best avoided for the time being.

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    Except if one tries to impress, it usually achieves the opposite effect. Just try to be a reasonable personality. Oct 12, 2023 at 12:57
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    @akostadinov true. I guess what I meant was "be really impressive, without giving the impression that you are trying hard to impress." That's a difficult act to pull off of course. But anyway, if OP can be impressive then that's a good thing and certainly better than being unimpressive or worse, and that's true even if his hosts pick up on the fact that he is making an effort to be impressive. And definitely try to be a reasonable personality!
    – Dan Romik
    Oct 12, 2023 at 16:24
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    I was working on a similar response yesterday, but had no opportunity to finish it. I'm glad somebody made the point. I'll add that everybody who sees a postdoc giving talks pretty much knows that at some point, the postdoc will be applying for jobs, so there really is no need to announce it. Oct 12, 2023 at 18:38
  • Good answer, and good analogy. Oct 12, 2023 at 22:12
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In the informal talks leading to the seminar, tell them that you would like to apply for a faculty position in the near future, in a year or two.

It will be of mutual benefit if you already address the funding parts, so you can propose to collaborate in bringing in some grants, rather than going there full of requests but with no concrete plan of action.

The seminar after all will be an excellent chance to show all the interested people the research you have been involved, however having slides explicitly "nodding" at the department and future work to be done there by you would be more of harm than anything else, I would perceive it as patronizing.

However, gentle and subtle hints at possible collaboration, to be then discussed informally/orally and in follow up communications would be helpful.

Again, you are proposing some research activity, you should also be able to propose the funding mechanism or the possible industrial partners, and you are expected to do the work on your resources, do not expect much support: everyone wants to jump on a moving train, no one wants to build the railway. If your future faculty position is as advanced as a train almost ready to start, you will have a better reception for your planned goals ...

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    Good answer, but funding discussions might not be necessary in many fields. Prior notice is a good idea so that interested faculty are more likely to attend.
    – Buffy
    Oct 11, 2023 at 13:04

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