When reviewing applications for a research job, you’ll probably be looking for candidates with direct experience in the area you’re hiring for. You’ll search for candidates with a research record that exactly matches the scope of your project or that corresponds to the modules they’ll be required to teach.
This makes sense, and if you can find the perfect candidate with just the right experience, then you shouldn’t hesitate to hire them. But it’s also worth considering that perhaps the best candidate for the position hasn’t worked in that specific research area yet.
Many great researchers have successfully switched focus or even entire disciplines mid career, and thrived in their new roles.
Walter Gilbert, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, began his career as a theoretical physicist. More recently, ResearchGate member Dawn R. Bazely, who started her career as a researcher in Biology, moved into the area of sustainability and science policy and became director of York University’s Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability.
In both cases, the person who hired them could have gone with a candidate with more direct experience. But they saw past the limitations of a specific research area and instead hired academics who went on to perform at an incredibly high standard.
Here are 5 reasons why widening your search can help you find the best candidate.