About 3 months ago I emailed a professor asking if there were any postdoc positions open in his lab. The professor emailed back relatively quickly and thanked me for being interested in his lab, but that currently there were no openings available. However, he was waiting to hear back at the end of the year from some funding he had applied for, and that he would keep me posted.

I haven't heard back from him, yet. I understand he's probably busy or maybe forgotten about me, which is why I wanted to email him again and follow-up. I don't know what to say. Mostly because I'm afraid that if he didn't get funded, maybe my email will be like rubbing salt to his wounds. I guess I won't know until I email again. Therefore, what would be the best approach?

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    Just reply to the original email with "Bump!" added to the top of the thread. Seriously, though, a short, to-the-point email will be best.
    – Mad Jack
    Jan 6, 2016 at 17:31
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    It is ok to ask briefly whether anything changed. However, maybe they don't have money, or they may have already selected a candidate, so, I suggest writing an email to the professor as an optimist, but set your expectations for yourself as a pessimist. Jan 6, 2016 at 18:27
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    Thank you all for the awesome advice! It baffles me how writing a simple email can make me go running in circles. This will definitely help me out. Fingers crossed, but no expectations...
    – Mimi Z.
    Jan 6, 2016 at 19:11

1 Answer 1


Extreme timidity is not the best approach in Academia. You have to take initiative, which sometimes involves some risk.

In this case, there isn't really any risk. The Professor expected to communicate with you at the end of the year; otherwise he would not have told you specifically that he would keep you posted. So do remind him, but make it not-salt-rubbing, e.g.:

Hello Professor HIS_NAME,

We talked several months ago about post-doc position openings at FACULTY_NAME, and you suggested some might become available at the end of the year, provided funding becomes available. I'm writing to ask whether it is now possible for you to say with more certainty whether a position is available.


[Quote his original message here]

... and make sure not to send it right on January 1st; wait another week or so. That's really not rubbing salt on the wounds; at most you are gently touching them :-\

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