5 Reasons to Hire Outside Your Research Area

When it comes to hiring researchers, you should be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

When you’re looking at candidates to hire for research jobs, you’ll probably be seeking those with direct experience in the exact area of your vacancy. You might try to find candidates whose research record is related directly to the precise scope of the project you need to conduct or the modules they are required to teach.

This makes sense, and if you can find the perfect candidate who has direct experience inside your precise field then you should waste no time in hiring them. But you should also consider that the best candidate might not yet have worked in the research area for your job.

There are plenty of great examples of researchers who have successfully switched their research area, and even their entire discipline, mid-career and benefitted their departments in the process.

Winner of the Nobel Prize for chemistry Walter Gilbert began his career as a theoretical physicist. More recently, biology professor and ResearchGate user Dawn R. Bazely moved into the area of sustainability and science policy, becoming director of York University’s Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability.

In both of these cases it would have been reasonable for the person making the hiring decision to hire someone who had more direct experience. But they saw past the limitations of research area and were rewarded with academics who performed to an incredibly high standard.

Here are 5 reasons why widening your search might help you find the best candidate.

1. You might miss the best talent

By focusing on those inside the precise research area you’re hiring for, you risk missing out on the majority of researchers outside this who could do the job. Among this majority you might find a candidate who is far more qualified, has an extensive research record, and has the qualities to transition across to a new area. By widening your search, you might find better candidates available to you.

2. The best and brightest candidates will be able to learn on the job

By looking at the record, reputation, and skills of candidates, you’ll be able to pick out those with all the qualities to ensure is a great fit. If you’ve picked these skills correctly, it will be no struggle for the candidate to learn the specific details of their new research area, and you’ll end up with a better candidate in the long term.

3. They’ll bring a fresh perspective

After they’ve finished their PhD or postdoc, researchers will know their specialization inside out. This can be an advantage, but a researcher with the right skills to carry out your research with a different knowledge set will bring a fresh perspective. They’ll be coming at the work from a new angle and this might be what it takes to move the research forward.

4. You’ll fill your vacancy more quickly

While you might want to wait for someone with the perfect research area fit, you’ll be able to fill your vacancy far quicker if you look at candidates from similar areas who are interested in learning a new area.

5. It’s good for science and research!

The combination of different modes of thinking is a force for good in the research world. The Human Genome Project, for example, required not only genetics experts, but also computer scientists and bioinformaticists. Moving between research areas encourages a climate of collaboration and opens researchers’ eyes to new methods and ideas. By being open to candidates who don’t have experience directly in your research area, you are encouraging this collaboration. This is great for academic inquiry and discovery.

ResearchGate Scientific Recruiting metrics

ResearchGate Recruiting makes it easy for you to candidates by quantitative metrics wider than just their subject area.

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When you post your job on ResearchGate, you can view the individual skill set of each of your applicants, meaning you can evaluate them by the skills that the role requires. This helps you to work out which candidates would be the best fit for your role outside of the traditional metrics related to research area, such as publication history.

Find out more about how you can use ResearchGate to widen your candidate search and evaluate candidates by more than just how well their research relates to your vacancy by scheduling a demo.

ResearchGate Scientific Recruiting

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