I finished my PhD 2.5 years ago (Computer Science), and have since been working as a post-doc at a top university. I've decided that I want to pursue an academic career, and I'm trying to decide what step to take next. I'm at the stage where I could start applying for lectureships (assistant professor), and there's a decent chance that I would be successful -- at some university at least, even if not the very top ones.
However, the other option, which I have been recommended to go for, is to apply for a post-doctoral research fellowship. These prestigious fellowships are sponsored by independent funding bodies, for people with up to 3 years experience since their PhD, and seem to be designed for the very best academics. (If you are familiar with the UK, then I have the Royal Academy and EPSRC fellowships in mind.) However, my worry is that because these last for up to 5 years, then by completion, I will then have had around 8 years of post-doctoral experience. This seems a very long time before I apply for my first lectureship -- and if I started applying for lectureships now, I could have risen to senior lecturer (associate professor) by then.
So, my question is, if I apply for one of these fellowships and am successful, why would it actually be a positive career move for me? It would give me time to focus on my research which is great, but for my long-term career, wouldn't the delay in taking up my first lectureship position ultimately have a negative impact?
Thank for any advice!