Author: Tara Smylie
Ah, the job search. Universally hated, and unfortunately also necessary for almost everyone at some point during their career. If you’re a recent grad in the middle of the hunt, you might feel a little stressed out or overwhelmed. That’s totally normal – and luckily, there are several ways you can manage your anxieties as you continue casting your net.
Contact and Connect
Friends, family, old mentors or professors… chances are, you know a handful of people who’ve been through the same thing and have some words of wisdom to offer. If possible, reach out to peers who are in the same boat – you will all feel less alone if you have each other to confide in. Connecting with other recent grads also has the advantage of strengthening your professional network.
Take a chance and connect with people or organizations you’d really like to work for, perhaps even offering to volunteer for them. For example, if you’re interested in a medical research environment, email a lab coordinator in that field and ask them if they have any opportunities for an ambitious assistant who is willing to work hard and eager to contribute. When it comes to life science and biotech, your connections are your strength – so never stop making them.
Work smart, not hard
Don’t pressure yourself to apply to exactly X number of jobs every day. Instead, focus on finding jobs that match your interests and abilities. For example, let’s say you excelled in all your statistics courses and have some field experience as a scientist. Perhaps you could put your skills to good use as a biostatistician – or possibly an environmental analyst for the right company. The ideal job will make use of your existing skills while offering you opportunities to cultivate new ones.
And remember: you don’t have to rush to the finish line. They say that looking for a job is a full-time job, but you don’t need to spend a full 8-hour day on the search if that feels excessive. While you are searching, be sure to read all job descriptions – you don’t want to waste anyone’s time applying for a job that doesn’t click for you. And when you inevitably face some rejection, try not to dwell on it and remember that rejection will happen to any job hunter who aims high.
Constantly refine your approach
Mass applying to hundreds of jobs at a time can feel productive, but you’re not as likely to impress any single employer. Find a balance between quality and quantity – and yes, that will mean writing cover letters. Over half of employers prefer candidates who attach them, and they can help you sell yourself if you maintain a professional tone.
As you search, you may notice that some components of your process need work. If you think your resume could use some fine-tuning, ask a colleague to look it over and give you some feedback. Or maybe you know your interviewing skills aren’t quite where you’d like them to be. If that’s the case, consider watching some videos or taking a course on the subject to brush up your skills. Your job-seeking skills will drive both your short- and long-term career, and the perfect time to invest in it is when you’re actively looking.
Relax your standards
There’s no need to find the “perfect” job immediately – you never know what an opportunity can lead to. Instead of chasing your number-one dream position, focus your efforts on landing a “good enough” job and consider where it could take you in the future. Nowadays it’s very common to end up working in a different field than the one you formally trained in, so stay open to the possibility of doing something a little unfamiliar.
As a final note: remember to enjoy the free time you have right now. You may not get the chance to take time off work for a while once you do have a job – so make the most of it while you can! Take this opportunity to polish your skills, reach out to old contacts, and get back in touch with the hobbies that fell by the wayside during your college days.
Keep calm and carry on
Finding a job is never easy. Realize that you’re not alone, and take the search at a pace that feels comfortable to you. Remember, you can’t control when you get an offer – only the effort you put into the process. If you’d like some assistance finding your next opportunity, Sci.bio’s recruitment services can help you take your next steps.
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