A really cool professor is invited to give a seminar in my department, and I would like to ask him/apply for a postdoc position in his lab. I do not know, if he has any openings, but I do have a meeting/lunch scheduled with him, since my project is related to his research interests. I want to know the best way to handle this. Do I send a short email with my CV/cover letter before he arrives on campus or do I ask him in person? Thanks!

  • Talk to him at lunch. Create contact. Probe whether you get along. After the event, drop him an email for contact, and mention that you are looking for positions, perhaps he knows some? Nice and relaxed (I know, easier said than done). Mar 8, 2016 at 1:03
  • Do people in your field not normally advertise postdoc positions when they have them? Anyway, I would just ask in person if there are any postdoc opportunities to work with him, unless for timing reasons it would put you at a disadvantage to wait that long.
    – Kimball
    Mar 19, 2016 at 2:47

2 Answers 2


Conferences and seminars are not only here to present what you are doing, but also create and expand your network of contact with people from your field.

Any form of contact is good, provided you put the respect it deserves. If the person is too busy, maybe it's best to send an email or try to talk to him in a very short availability period and drop your card.

If you have a meeting, that's even better. You already got his attention, it's the perfect moment to ask him the question directly. If you're interested in his research topic, just ask if he's looking to having a post-doc on the subject. He might not have a position available, but maybe he can ask for one.

There is no official method to contact for a post-doc, unless it's advertised on a website, then the preferred method should already e described.


Ask: I'm looking for a post-doc; would you know of any openings?

This is the standard/conventional way of inquiring about postdocs. He'll know what you're asking and will let you know if he has a position available. This gives the "askee" a way not to say "No, I don't have a position."

  • 1
    Though if you're particularly interested in working with a specific person, I don't see why you wouldn't want to let him know it. This isn't like clubs where you need to feign disinterest to get someone interested in you.
    – Kimball
    Mar 19, 2016 at 2:45
  • 1
    It's a fine line in this case, but sometimes you can't be too blunt. That's the culture in the US at least, which I am assuming (for no apparent reason) is the locale of the OP. I can see this not being the case in Germany, for example.
    – LCW
    Mar 19, 2016 at 2:55

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