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How to convince a PI if your background and interests doesn't match?

PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:55 am
by Anjana
Hi

I am an early stage researcher. I have past experience working in plant biotechnology lab, cancer research lab (molecular biology techniques)etc. For instance if I want to apply for a research position at a neurobiology lab, I get feedback that my background doesn't match with the interests. At the same time the advert will be open for anyone in the field of biological science to apply. I was wondering if specifying my thesis/research in cancer will naturally make the PI'S feel I am not eligible/interested? If so how will I handle the "past research experience" section?

[Edited by Moderator to remove Chat Language]

Re: How to convince a PI if your background and interests doesn't match?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:44 pm
by Craig B.
You need a compelling cover letter/introductory email. Be upfront addressing a number of potential questions: Why do you want to make the transition to a field different from your background/interests? What makes you interested in that PI's group? What can you, with your unique research experience and background, bring to the table?

Re: How to convince a PI if your background and interests doesn't match?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:25 am
by Jerry B.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of PIs who really only look for postdocs that have a background in exactly what they do and won't require any sort of training. Ultimately, it's going to be tough to convince them to offer you a spot. I think the most important aspect of getting a postdoc, especially in a well-established lab where the PI gets lots of applicants, is having a connection to the lab and strong support from your advisor. Ideally, your advisor or someone on your thesis committee knows the professor and is willing to give them a call and say you are great and that they should hire you. At the very least, if your advisor sends the PI an email in addition to your application package that tends to go a long way. Good luck!

Re: How to convince a PI if your background and interests doesn't match?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 10:25 am
by PG
Most importantly does your interests and the interests of the PI overlap? If they do you need to explain both that you have common interests and also how your background makes you suitable for working with the question that they are investigating. Ideally you can find a way in which your different background can add value to their projects that they are not getting today.