Thursday, April 03, 2014

Job Search Tips: A Wrap Up and a Call for Volunteers

I think I've come to the end of my occasional series of posts about the mechanics of a non-academic job search. Here is the complete list of my job search posts:
If there are any topics that you really wish I'd covered and I did not, leave them in the comments. I will either answer in the comments or write another post, depending on how much I have to say on the topic.

I realized that I never told you why you should listen to my opinions about such a job search. So, belatedly, here are my bona fides:

I have been a hiring manager for more than 10 years, in small biotech, mid-size biotech, and a large contracting/consulting company. I've hired roughly a dozen people over the course of my career, into a range of positions, from entry-level to senior individual contributor. I've sat on dozens more hiring committees. And I've run several successful job searches of my own. I've also been laid off twice, and each time was sent to an outplacement service that included job searching advice.

While my own experience is all in STEM fields, the outplacement services were general, and my cohort both times included people from a range of fields. Much of the advice I give in my series of posts is similar to advice I heard in those outplacement classes, so I suspect the advice is useful beyond my specific field. I'd be interested to hear from any readers in other fields about how general you think my advice is.

I am also in the process of converting these posts to a short eBook to self-publish, partly because I think it might be useful to people to have this information organized into a logical flow with some of the points amplified, and partly because I've been looking for a project to use to try out self-publishing. I will be adding some thoughts about how to identify relevant transferable skills, and may also add in info based on comments on this post, so don't be shy about telling me what you think I've missed! You'll be doing me a favor.

I've given myself a short deadline for this project- I hope to have the book written and ready for review by some beta testers by the beginning of May, and then to get it published in early June. Yes, I know that is insane. However, I think that I need the short deadline to make sure I get this done and don't talk myself out of it.

I'm looking for a few volunteers to help me with this project. I need to find some beta testers- people who would be willing to read the book and offer feedback before publication. I also need some reviewers- people who would be willing to read the book and post a review either on their own websites or on Amazon. I will provide a PDF version of the book to both groups of people, and also my eternal gratitude.

So... if you want to volunteer for either of those roles, please do so on this handy form I set up. I won't share your email address with anyone, and I won't spam you with anything except an email with the PDF and one email reminding you of the due date for feedback or the publication date (depending on which option you choose). The book will be short- I'm aiming for about 30-40 pages in PDF format. However, I'll probably only be able to give beta testers a couple of weeks to get me feedback. Reviewers, of course, can post their reviews at anytime, but you'll do me the most good if you post near my launch date.

Want to help and don't have time to read the book right now? Well, as we all know, I suck at naming things, so you could suggest names for my book in the comments. Also, as mentioned above, pointing out missing topics and providing your thoughts on the applicability of my advice outside of STEM fields would also be helpful. Or, you can just cheer me on!


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  2. Nicole7:44 AM

    Another useful subtopic, which is related to creating your resume, but can be a bit more long term, is how to acquire additional skills that will be useful in industry (if you're not looking to move directly to a bench equivalent).

    I did some volunteering and ran some student organizations during grad school that gave me management experience, grant writing, and budget planning - that while not intentional at the time, became very helpful when applying for less direct science roles.

    1. That's a good point! I'll have to think about whether I can cover some of that- maybe in the section where I talk about how to identify transferable skills. Thanks!

  3. Another topic that I could use some help on: how to alert your network that you are on the verge of being available for work. Is it okay to email former supervisors / colleagues and say something like "just a quick note to let you know I'm finally graduating with my Ph.D. Please let me know if you anticipate any upcoming projects or openings, here's my updated resume..."? How do you phrase that? I know most people get jobs through people / networks as opposed to blindly applying to openings, but I also don't want to overstep any boundaries. If I email them directly to say I'm available now, I don't want it to seem like I'm attempting to side step the formal application process to my advantage. But I also don't want to run the risk of getting passed over without consideration when I do have an inside contact or two to sing my praises. In other industries, maybe this sort of thing merits a linkedin update, but nobody, and I mean no one in my industry uses linkedin.

    1. You should absolutely let people know you're job searching! The way you do it without feeling awkward is you ask them to let you know if they HEAR of anything that would be a fit for you. So something like this: "I'll be graduating soon, and am interested in positions doing X or Y. Let me know if you hear of any relevant positions!"

  4. Anonymous1:31 AM

    Hi, you know me from twitter as @5feetnine. I'm a humanities person and my husband's STEM, and I think these posts are great. One thing that I think would be useful, from my own job search(es) experience, is the post-paper-part of the process, i.e. the interview (and component parts like associated presentation). Will you include that in your e-book? Would be great if you blogged about that too.

    And I wonder if advice for interviews would vary depending on whether one is a man or a woman, white / non-white, etc... How much difference do clothes make, for instance? I would totally understand if you chose not to get into this aspect, though, considering how complicated and fraught it can (will) get.

    - VB

    1. I'll do a post on interviewing soon- although I think interviewing is an area where you really, really want to get some industry-specific advice if you can.


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