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I am a last-year phd student, and starting looking for post-docs.

I have seen a very appealing position in a top university, but unfortunately, the application deadline is in the next few days, and I don't have the material time to get the required material (cover letters, CV and so on).

Nevertheless, the deadline seems not very strict, as they literally say:

Applications will be considered on a continuing basis 
but candidates are encouraged to apply by November 24, 2017.

Now my question: how important is the 24 November deadline (or a deadline ) for an announcement of this kind? Why to put a date if they will continue to take applications even after? Is it common for post-doc opening deadlines to be postponed?

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    I'd recommend pushing to prepare your application. You surely have a CV already, so just update it. (In the future, I recommend updating your CV on a continual basis.) A few days is more than enough time. – user2768 Nov 17 '17 at 16:57
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    Applications will be considered on a continuing basis means they will review applications as they are received, so earlier applicants might have an advantage (especially if they are exceptional, since a delay might result in them accepting another offer). By encouraging applications to apply by 24 November, I'd expect a decision to be made soon after, if it hasn't already been made. Albeit, applications will continue to be considered until the position has been filled. The deadline might well be extended if there isn't a suitable candidate. (I can't comment on how common that occurs.) – user2768 Nov 17 '17 at 17:02
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    If you really cannot finish your application before the deadline (though I agree with user2768 that it should be possible), send a coverletter and CV and inform them that you will submit a full application within the next week. That way they might postpone the decision, if they have the impression that you might be a stronger candidate than what they have. – Mark Nov 17 '17 at 17:11
  • Why not call the people who publish the position to get more information and have more information and a first contact? – Lemaitre Cedric Nov 17 '17 at 19:55
  • Related for faculty searches: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/18025/… – Dawn Nov 18 '17 at 16:01
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Certainly we can construct scenarios where being late with an application would hurt you, but whether or not it actually does will probably strongly depend on the pool of applicants available.

In all likelihood the soft deadline means "we won't start considering applications until Nov. 24th, but after that point in time we might select and hire someone". If you want to guarantee that you're given a fair assessment it would be wise to have your application in as soon as possible.

If this is really a match-made-in-heaven, and you're confident that you're just as appealing to them as they are to you, it might be worthwhile to send along your CV and a short cover letter explaining why you are really ideal for this position and giving a specific date by which you'll have a complete application submitted.

Note that they're probably only waiting a couple of weeks at most for any stragglers. Don't plan on applying in January.

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