If you're hiring a postdoc, how much do you care about the techniques they've used in the PhD?

I'm thinking ahead to the postdoc search (will probably start in earnest in summer/fall). My current field is a somewhat obscure area of human molecular genetics, lots of old-school techniques. I'm very interested in moving to a model organism that will provide quick output during the postdoc and let me transition to a career at a primarily undergraduate institution. I've also had very little opportunity for bioinformatics training, which I would like to learn. (I see lots of online ads for postdocs listing a slew of particular skills, but I've heard these are less common paths compared to personal networks so I'm wondering if they're representative.)

  • a lot because in biology you're always a pipet monkey, in my experience
    – DBB
    Jan 28, 2018 at 18:57

3 Answers 3


I'm not hiring a postdoc, but: Bench skills/experience matter a lot. PIs want to hire someone who can use the existing lab to produce data without training.

That said, it is difficult to anticipate what skills PIs will be looking for at the moment you need a job.


I'm likely to ask a fresh PhD holder (whether the title is postdoc or not) to do things that are in keeping with the work they did during their PhD, but I'm likely to ask them to do things beyond that, too. You should expect to be asked to figure out how to do things that were explicitly not part of your existing training. You might have questions, which I might or might not be able to help with. Once you have a PhD, you should be able to do anything you did during your grad school training, and you should be able to acquire new capabilities as needed.


The degree to which bench skills matters depends strongly on your field. In something like computer science, advisors often hire a postdoc expecting them to adapt their existing knowledge to a new area, in which case the knowledge often matters little. In biological sciences, however, I have often seen postdocs hired as a way of "importing" methods into a laboratory, in which case the bench skills are precisely what they are hired for. Thus, in your case, I would expect that they would be quite significant.

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