In a previous post, I discussed the challenges associated with postdoc recruitment. Here, I will address one of these challenges in depth, namely the challenges of attracting postdocs as a new principal investigator.

In a world where the rich get richer, how do new PIs get their start and find the right talent? After all, postdocs are your main workforce, without whom there is no productivity from your lab.

Let’s assume that you are already:

1.    Choosing the right career platform with a relevant target audience for your job announcements; and

2.    Choosing the best advertising solution to proactively maximize your exposure to this audience (think: smart social media campaigns).

The strategies above will ensure that candidates are made aware of the opportunities in your lab. Once they read your advert, if they haven’t already heard of you (which is likely to be the case if you are new to the game) their next move will be to check relevant databases for papers featuring you as a senior author. Odds are they won’t find any because you are a new PI. This is when potential candidates probably move onto the next advertised position.

Does that mean you should give up? Knowing how far you have come, giving up is probably not in your vocabulary. But what can you do to make your lab more attractive and appealing? You know that you are a good scientist and you know that you are very capable of being a good mentor and inspiring a new generation of great scientists. But how do you communicate this to potential postdocs?

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You have probably heard and agree that storytelling is a powerful technique to influence and inspire people. How have you or your institution told your story? What is your grand vision of science? What challenges have you already solved and what ones do you aim to address in the future? What is your leadership style and how do you foster an environment for success? Even if you have many senior author papers under your belt, none of these papers will describe how you approach science, how you provide guidance, and the great role model that you are. 

In the digitized world that we live in, there are abundant opportunities for storytelling. You all know and probably use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn, and many of you may have written for science blog sites such as The Conversation. These powerful platforms make it easy for you to tell your story and will help someone who might be interested in working in your lab connect with you and your work. You can also choose to have your stories professionally crafted and shared by us on Academic Stories, our storytelling platform. 

Yes, all you need is a story, a good story –  your story.

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