There is a postdoctoral position that I would like to apply for. One of the requirements for it is to identify a working group and a faculty member that you are interested in working with. I have never done this. How do I ask a person whom I've never met/worked with if I can work with him ? I mean, what is a polite way to say, well, compared to everyone in the group, your work seems to be the closest to what I want to do, so can I work with you please?

I would be very grateful for any input. Thanks in advance !!!


2 Answers 2


The first thing to do is probably send the academic you're interested in working with an e-mail. In that e-mail, you can say how interested in their work you are, a bit about your background and round off with asking for a meeting to discuss a possible post-doc position?

Hopefully, they'll respond to the e-mail favourably and you'll be on your way. If they don't reply, then perhaps, after a week send a polite reminder or even go chap on their door.

Be bold. The worst they can say is no and that's not that bad anyway, as you'll have the confidence to go on and ask others.

  • Of course the meeting suggestion is not practical if the prospective employer is located far away. Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 21:01

I would probably write an email along the following lines:

"Dear Dr. X,

My name is Cosmogirl and I recently completed a PhD in [interesting subject] from University of Oz; my dissertation/recent publication explored XYZ, with a particular focus on yyz. I am currently looking to applying for ABC postdoctoral position at the University of Oz and was interested in learning more in your work on [Cool research subject]. In particular, I am interested in the applications of your research on ZZZ on [other subject that is ideally related to research you have done; explain how]. Would you be available for us to meet at some point in order to discuss possible collaboration within the context of the post-doctoral position offered?

I look forwards to hearing from you.

Kind regards, Cosmogirl"

Obviously, refine and make it yours. But give it a shot - you've got nothing to lose by asking!

  • 3
    Bear in mind that we're not an email-writing service. "Here's what I would write" doesn't help much when you don't explain why you'd write that. And the email you've composed doesn't seem very closely related to the question at hand: stating that one wants to learn more about a topic sounds like you're asking them to teach it to you, not suggesting a research collaboration. Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 17:06
  • 1
    @DavidRicherby - Thanks for the feedback, I'm pretty new here, so I appreciate it. Feel free to edit if you feel the content could be refined/additional bullet points could be added to make the content of the email more applicable.
    – Li.Elce
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 17:17
  • @Li.Elce, Thank you very much. That is very helpful.
    – cosmogirl
    Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 12:34
  • @DavidRicherby Thanks, I'll keep that in mind.
    – cosmogirl
    Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 12:35

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