I currently hold a post-doctoral position in the UK, which is 3 years long, and I am in my second year. I am wondering how bad would it look for my employer if I apply for a lectureship post that I just saw announced and caught my interest? They ask for my current employer as a reference, so there is a slight chance they will contact them.

I am not sure how it would look, considering that I supposedly signed up for a 3 years job, and would be leaving a year earlier. I don't want them to think that I don't like my current place or anything like that. If I do get that other job, it wouldn't be too terrible even if they don't like it. But there is also a great chance that I won't get the job and will stay in my current position for another year.

EDIT: this is my second post-doc position.

  • Are you even eligible for a tenure-track position with less than two years postodoctoral experience?
    – terdon
    Mar 31, 2016 at 8:56
  • Well, this is not my first post-doc :)
    – dbluesk
    Mar 31, 2016 at 16:37
  • Ah. You might want to add that to your question.
    – terdon
    Mar 31, 2016 at 16:38
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    @terdon: I don't know of any academic field in which any positive amount of postdoctoral experience is mandatory before being considered for a tenure track position. Do you have such a field in mind? Mar 31, 2016 at 16:51
  • @PeteL.Clark I wouldn't call it mandatory, as such. Just expected. In my field, biology, you don't start applying for professorial positions until you have a bit of post doctoral experience under your belt. There are exceptions, of course, but that's the norm in my experience.
    – terdon
    Mar 31, 2016 at 16:53

1 Answer 1


In my experience supervising post-docs the goal has been to get the post-doc into a tenure-track position. I've seen post-docs apply for tenure track positions and get them before the end of our funding for the post-doc, and I've considered that to be a success, even though we had go out and find a replacement for the post-doc.

I would encourage you to discuss this with your current supervisor. If they're not supportive then you probably won't get the kind of recommendation you would need, and there might not be any point in applying for the position. If they are supportive then you can apply with some confidence. Even if you don't get the job, you'll have some experience with the application (and perhaps interview) process.

  • 1
    A supervisor who does not support their postdocs getting on the shortlist for a tenure-track (or equivalent early lecturer) position is not a supervisor I'd like to work for. Especially not after 2 of 3 years. That being said, the balance side is to give them the earlier chance to know that you need to leave the post. But then, there are many fish as well as supervisors in the sea, and you may have to somehow downplay it when applying. Mar 31, 2016 at 0:47
  • I think this answer is biased towards the US mentality. In the UK "honoring" your contract is a much bigger deal.
    – StrongBad
    Mar 31, 2016 at 1:39
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    That's a fair comment- my experience is in the US context. Research post-docs in the US are often treated as employees and don't sign contracts like faculty. However, even in a situation where a post-doc was under contract, my experience is that the contract is typically only binding on the employee for one academic year at a time. Mar 31, 2016 at 3:04
  • It might be a contract, but the very nature of postdocs, IMHO, is temporary. I often explain it as an internship to non-academics... I have most of the responsabilities of a professor (except administrative stuff) and none of the perks! (I don't even have vacations, but that's another a whole other conversation) Mar 31, 2016 at 4:04
  • @StrongBad In my experience at least, job applications are far enough ahead that you would still be able to work your notice period before the end of the year. If that's not the case, you could reasonably ask to delay the start of the new position, if you were offered it.
    – Jessica B
    Mar 31, 2016 at 7:15

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