Having the best possible talent in your lab could mean making that breakthrough discovery sooner. Follow a few key steps to improve your chances of finding and hiring the right research assistant for the job.
Track your success
Have your past RAs continued on to have successful careers in their chosen field? Do they have concrete examples of skills they obtained during their research assistantships? Keep in touch so you can provide referrals upon request. The best way to attract a quality candidate is by having a proven record of success.
Make your website matter
Grad students and postdocs often begin their search for an RA position online. Featuring current information and publications, an engaging message and intuitive navigation on your lab’s website may get you on a quality candidate’s shortlist. A well-managed website goes hand in hand with a well-managed research project.
Don’t curb your enthusiasm
When meeting with applicants, share your passion and excitement for your field of study. Remember to focus on the big picture and the big problems you’re trying to solve with your research. Being an enthusiastic leader bodes well for the opportunity.
Money talks, of course
As federal funding for research declines, the amount of funding for your research project weighs heavily on a potential candidate’s decision. Projects with less funding may compel the RAs to take on more teaching responsibilities, leaving less time to work on their dissertation.
Review the applications of incoming graduate students at the time they’re admitted into the program — and reach out ahead of time to candidates you think may be a good fit. This is also a good way to scoop up valuable students who may not have chosen an advisor yet.
When it comes to research assistantships, what are your tips for success? Comment below and share your ideas.
Special thanks to Chad Myers, computer science and engineering assistant professor, and research assistants Geoffrey Hart and Rachael Blackman for their contributions to this post.