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Performing an academic job search for the first time (unlike the industry ones), the more I dive in, the more I see how such search for a junior faculty position is very dependent on timing, time frames, natural seasons and academic calendar (and I totally understand the reasons for that). However, that creates significant challenges in my particular situation, to a degree that I almost decided to abandon my junior faculty position search and focus exclusively on postdoctoral positions along with some IT research-related and general research-focused industrial ones.

In addition to timing issues, there is also a reason that many, if not most, junior faculty positions require or prefer a candidate to have a portfolio of peer-reviewed publications (or, at least, working papers) as well as teaching experience and, often, teaching evaluations. Unfortunately, at the present time I cannot offer any of these (beyond my dissertation and citable research software).

Having said all that, for my job search planning and plan adjustment purposes, I am curious about time frames for decision making and hiring for postdoctoral positions. I realize that this aspect might significantly vary, between geographical locations and, even, institutions. However, if there are some average numbers for US universities, I would appreciate you sharing them (my discipline is information systems, if it matters). So, my question is as follows:

For US postdoctoral positions, what are approximate time frames between applying and making hiring decisions as well as between communicating such decisions and desired actual start dates?

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    While the answer doesn't address this, there is at least some dependence on field (e.g., teaching postdocs are very different). Since most people get PhD's and get hired into tenure track positions on the usual academic cycle, this also affects when vacancies tend to open and get filled. – Kimball Jun 29 '15 at 6:36
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    Since you are in Information Systems, I'll post this as a comment: time frame definitely is discipline dependent. On one extreme you have Mathematics where the vast majority of US postdoc positions are advertised on MathJobs and first round acceptance deadlines are coordinated. – Willie Wong Jun 29 '15 at 8:53
  • Kimball and Willie Wong: Thank you for your comments (upvoted). – Aleksandr Blekh Jun 29 '15 at 8:56
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Most postdoctoral positions in the US are made available by individual professors within their own research groups. Consequently, there is no standard timeline for postdoctoral applications, outside of special programs where positions are sponsored by entire departments or institutions.

In general, though, I think that positions are held open at least as long as is required by the guidelines of the individual institution where the postdoctoral associate will be housed (anywhere from two weeks to 60 days), although this may be extended if no suitable candidate is found in the initial advertisement process.

Moreover, the start date is usually somewhat flexible, but is also dependent on funding—usually people will want the postdoc to start as soon as is reasonably possible.

On the whole, however, if you're applying for an individual postdoc position, I would normally assume that you'd hear back from the postdoc advisor within a few weeks if there's any interest.

  • Nice answer and useful information (+1). I appreciate that and your rapid feedback. – Aleksandr Blekh Jun 28 '15 at 19:04
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    It can be as little as 5 business days. – Bill Barth Jun 28 '15 at 19:51

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