I am applying for jobs on mathjobs.org, and I regularly refresh the new postings page.

Sometimes I see jobs that I want to apply for right away, but I am not sure if it looks bad. I am worried about coming across as desperate or I am trying for the shotgun effect.

Does it look bad to apply for a job soon after it was posted?

What I mean by "soon" is the day it was posted or a few days after.

  • 9
    Better sooner than later. Some universities keep "applications open until a suitable candidate is found", but may run out of time to interview everyone... – Fábio Dias Dec 10 '15 at 3:28
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    They are ready to receive applications before they post them, if they were not ready they wouldn't have posted just yet; Go ahead apply as soon as early as you like. They are expecting applications to arrive so why not! – Hanky Panky Dec 10 '15 at 4:27
  • Some hire as soon as they get the right candidate. Waiting might result in somebody else being hired . – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Dec 10 '15 at 11:36
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    Hahah! This isn't a hot date! Apply you fool! – FirebladeDan Dec 10 '15 at 16:39
  • Bizarre, no it's not at all. – crmpicco Dec 11 '15 at 13:41

I don't know how mathjob distributes candidates' applications to schools, but I doubt anyone cares. I put all applications I get for my job postings into a folder in no particular order and never look at the order of application. Someone has to be first. Go ahead! Apply away!

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    Having been on a search committee last year (and another one this year for two tenure track positions) on mathjobs.org, I can tell you that (1) it is possible to figure out when an application was submitted and received and (2) no one on the committee cares in the least when you apply. – Brian Borchers Dec 10 '15 at 3:24
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    Agreed with @Brian Borchers on both counts. One of the most useful ways to sort applications on MathJobs is by the date they were received, so we can certainly see that. The idea that we would care that someone applied "too early" is quite strange to me: when we post the job, we are asking for applicants. As long as your application comes in after the posting (it is not possible for it to come in before...) and by the deadline: absolutely no problem. – Pete L. Clark Dec 10 '15 at 6:32

If you're applying in less than about an hour, you're doing yourself a disservice, but otherwise you might as well just get on with it. The chances of the people who make the hiring/shortlisting decision (a) seeing, (b) noticing, and (c) caring that you applied promptly are very slim.

The reason I say you are doing yourself a disservice applying within minutes is simply that you need time to read about the job/employer, check suitability (yes even if you're desperate for a job) and tailor your application.


If you see a job you want, apply for it as quickly as you can make a good application.

I would expect anyone who is actively looking for a job to be regularly checking job posting sites and prepared to apply on short notice when they see one they are interested in. This does not come across as "desperate".

The order applications come in often doesn't matter at all. Depending on the institution, the people making the decisions might not even know this (applications may go through an HR department and be handed over to those hiring in a single pack).

For applications through this site, it seems that the date of application can be easily seen. But it is still doubtful whether anyone will notice or care. To the extent that it is noticed and signals anything, I would say it is a positive signal. It suggests:

  • You have a high level of interest in this job.
  • You are motivated.
  • You are organized and prepared.

All of these are positives from a hiring perspective.

More important than timing is putting in a strong application. If you see a job early, it might be wise to spend extra time researching the organization, preparing your application, and tailoring your CV to focus on the right things. But assuming you are fully prepared, there is no downside to applying on the first day.

  • I downvoted this answer because it does not seem to reflect the realities of hiring in mathematics through mathjobs.org (HR department, etc), even though I agree with the overall suggestion. – Tom Church Dec 10 '15 at 8:57
  • @TomChurch, I took this as a general question, with the particular mathjobs.org job as an example. However, I have edited to clarify that certain statements I made do not apply to that example. – user24098 Dec 10 '15 at 9:46
  • Thanks. I reversed my downvote. I still am not sure that this really applies to any academic hiring process, though (except possibly administrative searches at the dean/provost/president level, which are a whole different beast). – Tom Church Dec 10 '15 at 19:16
  • @TomChurch the HR department stuff does apply at the institution where I work. – user24098 Dec 10 '15 at 21:53

Does it look bad to apply for a job soon after it was posted?

It depends. If you start applying for jobs in August and September, immediately after jobs begin to be posted, then that might look strange. In previous years, my department had a position posted quite early, and the earliest applicants were for the most part noticeably weak.


I am applying for jobs on mathjobs.org, and I regularly refresh the new postings page.

You and many, many others. This is very natural and every hiring committee will (or should, anyway) understand it. This time of year, when deadlines for other schools are coming and going and your materials have already been prepared, and it is understood that candidates are very, very eager to find jobs, it is entirely natural to apply right away. Indeed, my department posted a position in November this year and we received thirty-two applications in the first two days.

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    "my department had a position posted quite early, and the earliest applicants were for the most part noticeably weak." But if you had a candidate apply then who was otherwise strong, would you care? – user24098 Dec 10 '15 at 6:19
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    @dan1111: In principle I would not care at all, and I hope and am fairly certain that in practice I would not care at all. Certainly everyone on any hiring committee would insist 100% that they don't care. But all human beings are subject to implicit bias -- i.e., allowing irrelevant factors to affect their judgment without realizing it. The questioner asks how to avoid this, and I do believe that there's a very small but nonzero chance that such factors could prove relevant -- even though they shouldn't be. – Anonymous Dec 10 '15 at 11:19
  • Let me also add that I really don't think that it matters much at all, or that this is anything which anyone should really worry about. – Anonymous Dec 10 '15 at 11:20

You should give yourself a few days to prepare the application. If you don't target your application and make up your mind about a meaningful strategy to get an interview you could as well save your time (and the time of the hiring committee) by not applying. So applying on the same day (supposing this position wasn't advertised in a different form) is a bad advice, since it will signalize that you have not spend enough time to prepare properly.

On the other hand, it is a good idea to submit early (say after a few days). There will be several hundreds applications for a single position. So the committee will go over this long list and sort out fiercely in the first round. However, the people in the committee will have a look how the application process started and might notice your application if you have applied early (everybody is a bit curious). Thus, by applying early you might increase the chance that somebody looks more carefully on your application, which in turn might increase your chances to "survive" the first round.

tl;dr Dont submit on the first day, but an early submission might increase the chances to get over the first round.

  • Be prepared, yes, but I don't think there is anything wrong with the first day. Good prep can be done in a few hours, particularly if you have been applying for similar jobs and have polished materials ready as a starting point. – user24098 Dec 11 '15 at 15:25

If it's not like on Freelancer.com(Those guys have a freaking badge that gets awarded to you if you bid for something within two minutes of it being posted), it'd be better to wait till you have read the whole listing before you apply. You're worried about looking like a post-bot, but it doesn't matter, really. There are too many applications to care about trivial things such as this.

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