I am a mathematician, recently returned home to Malaysia after a decade or so in the United States.

I had experienced for myself the pain of the US academic job search in snagging my postdoc. Now I am on the "other side", so to speak. My institution, Xiamen University Malaysia, is brand new and growing fast, so we need to hire a lot of mathematicians.

From my time in the States, I know there are many brilliant, hard-working people with excellent research records who cannot get permanent academic positions in the west due to the scarcity of jobs. I think my institution would provide an excellent opportunity for them. Obviously we cannot offer the same financial package a western university can, and I'm sure it is difficult for a lot of job candidates to consider a move across the world, but it is reasonable for the cost of living, and we teach in English and offer a teaching load that is conducive to research. I think it would be reasonable for a western-based job candidate to at least consider us.

My question is, how do we get the word out in the west? The obvious solution is Mathjobs.org for the US, but we don't have the budget for advertising there. I have emailed hundreds of department heads in the US and Europe, but I doubt many of those emails got forwarded. Are there any other avenues to try?

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    An ad on MathJobs is as low as US$300, and it might be worth asking for a discount; the AMS offers developing-country discounts for lots of its other services. By contrast, in order to even interview a candidate from Europe or North America, you're going to have to pay their travel expenses from a third of the way around the world - easily five times the cost of the ad, per candidate. If you can't afford the ad, how do you plan to afford the the travel expenses? Feb 28, 2017 at 2:03
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    @DarrenOng: It seems that your search is being hampered by totally illogical bureaucratic constraints. This makes the question seem uninteresting to people in general and only of interest to you. Stackexchange is designed to be a forum for sharing questions and answers in situations where the answers are of interest to people in general, not just the person asking.
    – user1482
    Feb 28, 2017 at 2:27
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    @Ben Crowell Fair point, but I contend that there are a lot of up-and-coming research institutions in Asia that would be interested in exploiting the large academic applicant pool in the west. Not all of them would use mathjobs for various reasons (e.g., perhaps their jobs are not in mathematics). I contend that for this reason my question is of broad interest.
    – Darren Ong
    Feb 28, 2017 at 2:30
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    @DarrenOng - presence of stupid bureaucratic constraints is one of those things that makes a job much less attractive in general. Knowing that your department is unable to spend a relatively small amount of money on advertising makes me wonder what other stupid bureaucratic constraints I would have to put up with were I to work in your department. This is not a negligible factor, especially since it reinforces a (usually unfair) stereotype of universities in developing countries as being saddled with inefficient and corrupt bureaucracies. Feb 28, 2017 at 2:40
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    @DarrenOng - Let me suggest: (1) If hiring talented Western staff is important to you, these kinds of bureaucratic obstacles should be priorities for the limited amount of power you have. (2) If you have no power at all, this bodes poorly for your hiring and retention b/c most Western academics want to be citizens and not only employees of their universities, and they already come in with a disadvantage since they don't know how to get things done in your culture. There are reasons why even NUS or HKU have relatively few Western faculty - and for them, it's certainly not the pay. Feb 28, 2017 at 3:33

1 Answer 1


Try conferences. I'm not in math but in my field most of the job news comes via conferences and academic societies.

It helps if the jobs are for specific subfields, so you can advertise them to the smaller conferences/societies for those subfields.

You may also try focusing on conferences/societies outside of the US, like Australia, NZ, Canada (e.g. Canadian Mathematical Society). Jobs in smaller countries like Canada are harder to come by and people on the market might appreciate seeing other non-US options.

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