I am applying for postdoc positions using the Mathjob website. I've noticed that some universities inquire if I've been in contact with faculty members in their departments. I applied for several of these positions and answered the question with 'no.' In such cases, do they reject my application? Should I contact a faculty member and express my interest in doing a postdoc under their supervision? Alternatively, is this question merely informational, with no response indicating that they will assign a random mentor?

2 Answers 2


I doubt that every university asking this question has the same intent. Some will want to judge your interest in a specific faculty member or sub-field and others just want to know how flexible you might be.

I've even known of places that didn't really assign "mentors" but just wanted the skills of the applicant with a view to a future hire.

I doubt that many would reject your application if you don't contact individuals first, though it could happen in principle.

I don't recommend blind emails to people just to "cover" this question. That is unlikely to help. But, if someone "advertises" interest in a postdoc, by all means, write to them with your interest, assuming your research aligns.


As someone who regularly hires postdocs, I can say that if someone has reached out to me and expressed interest in my work. I am much more likely to look carefully at their application.

We are flooded with applications from people who have no idea who we are or what we do. If we feel that someone specifically wants to work with us and pursue the kind of research we have been doing, that makes a huge difference to the care with which we review their application.

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