From what I understand its to get a better university on your CV to place better for the following year’s market instead of having to take a TT position at a lower ranked university or at no university at all if you had previously failed the market.
DISCLAIMER: This is just what I heard/seen over the years!
From what I have gathered this happens for a few reasons:
(1) Get more time to polish you JMP before the JM.
Because the JMP is a crucial component for people who want to stay in academia, you want to come guns ablaze with the best version possible of your JMP. Hence, you might need more time to work on your project. Some post doc positions are paid, which solves the problem of getting more time to polish the paper while also making rent.
(2) Get other recommendation letters for the JM.
A part of your application package is a series of recommendation letters from supervisors/mentor/senior professors etc.. Doing a post doc enables you to keep fishing for them and/or better the ones you already have. This is especially true for good students at MRM/LRM who might score a post doc position at a top institution, who are now able to get in contact with more established researchers.
(3) Transition to another field.
This is a little far-fetched, I have only seen it happen a handful of times. It might happen that after a Ph.D. in Econ you would like to score a TT position as a Finance professor in a BS. While this is possible without a post doc, doing a post doc at a BS might help you further your research portfolio in a Finance direction/getting in contact with BS professors etc..
(4) Some schools make offers for the following year.
Some post docs that did go on the JM the previous year actually already have an offer already line up for the following year. They basically "chill" a year before starting their TT position -again while still being able to make rent. When you look at placement this situation is usually specified in the placement
I think the CV story is a little unfounded. Just doing a post doc at a top institution does not per se increase your electability - or at least it is not a game changer - unless you made something out of your experience. There might be some sort of "brand-effect" if you move from a LRM to a HRM, but given the competitiveness of the JM these days idk how effective would that be.
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