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Why Online Networking Can Make a Difference in a Job Search

Why Online Networking Can Make a Difference in a Job Search

Author: Cliff Mintz

Most human resource professionals contend that some form of online networking with colleagues and peers is probably the best way to land a new job. To that point, online networking offers several advantages over live networking and other traditional ways of keeping in touch with others.

First, online networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn make it easy for people to find you. Unlike live networking where information flow is painstakingly slow, online networking allows users to provide prospective employers with large amounts of professional information. Moreover, online network users can control the information that employers and others can access. Effectively controlling online information may mean the difference between employment or not.

Second, membership in online networks allows users to easily keep tabs on others and visa versa. Also, users can configure online networking platforms to automatically receive news, updates and alerts in real time. Being the first to learn about a job opening may give a jobseeker a competitive advantage.

Finally, online networking sites allow users to quickly connect with one another (or access the knowledge base of a network) without investing much time or effort. In contrast with live networking, small talk and casual conversation is not required to get the information that you or a prospective employer may be seeking.

Getting Started

An important first step is to create a professional profile. This should contain a candidate’s career path including educational background, past places of employment, awards and honors, and his/her current position and job responsibilities. Sites that are designed for professional networking usually provide new users with templates that allow them to quickly create a profile.

Personal information should not be present in a professional profile. Things like age, marital status, political persuasion or sexual orientation should not appear anywhere in a user profile. User profiles MUST be devoid of compromising photos, inappropriate remarks or political or religious diatribes

Ensure that the information is publicly available so that it will appear in Google searches. Also, keep the profile current and remember to add things like recent speaking engagements, new publications etc. to remain competitive.

Expand Your Network

The next step is to find people at the site to connect with. Connecting with people who work at companies or institution where you may want to work is a great idea! Don’t be afraid to connect with others who may be more senior or even junior to you. However, only connect with others who you think may be important or valuable to your job search. Connecting for connections sake may overwhelm your network with irrelevant or inappropriate information.

Finally, invite professional friends and colleagues to join your network. Having a Nobel Laureate or a member of the National Academy of Sciences in a personal network can really do wonders for a job search! Again, this is a professional network; so only invite people to join who you can trust to keep it that way.

Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?

Despite its massive size, Facebook has yet to prove its value for jobseekers. Twitter is better than Facebook, but like Facebook, its value as a job seeking tool remains to be determined. At present, the largest and perhaps best online networking site for professionals is LinkedIn. It boasts free job boards, paid advertising and is regularly scrutinized by professional recruiters. One of the more valuable LinkedIn features, are the LinkedIn groups where it is easy to start conversations with prospective employers and hiring managers

Keep it Professional

These days hiring managers routinely scrutinize candidates’ online presence or personas before moving forward with the job application process. Therefore, it is a good idea to Google yourself from time-to-time to manage the information that is available to prospective employers. Any damaging information may mean the difference between employment or not. Finally, online networking, if appropriately used, can be an extremely effective job seeking tool for those seeking employment in the life sciences industry.

Six Common Resume Mistakes To Avoid

Six Common Resume Mistakes To Avoid

Author: Cliff Mintz

While a resume is required for all jobs, writing one that ultimately leads to a job interview and new job remains elusive to many. In many respects, resume writing is more of an art than a science and it can take many attempts to uncover a format/style that works for you. Below are six common mistakes to avoid when writing a resume.

  1. Don’t forget to include a “Summary of Qualifications.” Instead of an objective statement at the beginning of a resume, replace it with a “Summary of Qualifications” (SOQ); three to five sentences that highlight your skill sets, experience and personal attributes that will help to distinguish you from other job applicants. The SOQ ought to be constructed as a “30-second elevator pitch” that describes who you are and the value that you will bring to employers if they hire you. Don’t be afraid to pepper the SOQ with laudatory adjectives and action verbs to grab the hiring manager’s attention and distinguish you from other applicants. Put simply, don’t be humble!
  2. One size DOES NOT fit all! It is very tempting to craft a single resume and then submit it for all jobs that interest you. Unfortunately, this approach is certain to increase the likelihood that your resume will land in the recycle bin. Prospective employers want job applicants to take the time to write a detailed resume that clearly demonstrates how and why they are the right candidate to fill a particular job opening. First, identify the technical skills, educational background and responsibilities for a job and then craft/build a “unique and personalized” resume that showcases why you are the right fit candidate to fill it.
  3. Make sure to include keywords in your resume. Increasingly, many companies are using AST software and keyword searches to screen the large number of resumes that are received for job openings. A good way to identify what keywords to include in your resume is by carefully studying descriptions of the job opportunities that interest you. Once you identify key words from the job descriptions, liberally sprinkle them throughout your resumes, and most importantly, in the SOQ because this is what is read (scanned) first.
  4. Typos and spelling errors are forbidden. Given the fierce competition for jobs in today’s global economy, a single typo can land your resume in the “not interested” pile. Not surprisingly, resumes rife with typos and misspelled words indicate a lack of attention to detail; something that is vitally important for jobs in the biotechnology and life sciences industries. For example, a hiring manager I know who was seeking to hire a Senior Clinical Research Manager summarily rejected any job applicants whose resumes contained any typos! This is because typos in clinical documents may lead to regulatory delays for new drug approvals. Nevertheless, resumes should be spell-checked for typos and grammatical errors before they are submitted to prospective employers for consideration.
  5. Keep it simple. There is no need to use special fonts or color for a resume. It is best to stick to black and white color and use basic fonts like Arial, Tahoma or Calibri with sizes of 11 or 12 pt. The resume should have an “open” feel and not be filled with long dense blocks of text. Be certain to highlight your accomplishments rather than simply listing duties for different jobs. Prospective employers are much more interested in what was accomplished for a previous employer rather than what your job responsibilities were.
  6. Size does not matter. Urban legend suggests that a resume ought to be two pages or less in length. In reality, there are no absolutely no rules governing resume length! The goal of a well- crafted resume is to allow prospective employers to determine whether or not you are qualified for a specific position. While in some cases, a one or two page resume may be sufficient, don’t be afraid to craft longer resumes if additional space is necessary to present yourself in the best possible light to prospective employers.


Your Science Doesn’t Speak For Itself

Your Science Doesn’t Speak For Itself

Author: Claire Jarvis

As young scientists, we are often taught the academic notion of letting “your science speak for itself” and believing technical skills and research are our most important assets in obtaining a meaningful job. Indeed, when STEM professionals are hired into their first jobs those qualifications and strong technical competencies are important factors.

However, once they start at their new company, entry-level hires are often surprised when technical skills don’t seem as important in the eyes of management. They may also see colleagues with less skill in the laboratory climbing the promotion ladder faster, and perceive this as unfair.

It’s a disappointing and unfortunate truth that the promotion process is often unmeritocratic, and that climbing the ladder as a bench scientist requires self-advocacy and political skills as much as expertise and skill. The best way to make sense of this perceived unfairness is to understand that most individuals hired have cleared the minimum technical requirements needed to perform their job . Your organization doesn’t need STEM superstars: they need people who can get the work done. In that light, once you’re inside the company, your technical skills stop being the most important determinant of your value as an employer. Your soft skills and ability to work with others play an increasingly important role in levels of management and leadership.

How to Self-Advocate

Political (or more appropriately, interpersonal) skills aren’t disdainful or underhanded techniques to get ahead in the workplace. They demonstrate that you understand company culture and can act in a future management or leadership capacity. If people in management can’t get along with you as a colleague, why would they promote you to work alongside them?

Self-advocacy means highlighting your contribution to successful projects and documenting your achievements to leaders instead of hoping that you will get noticed.. The political side of the process means doing this is a way that doesn’t annoy those around you or take too much credit at the expense of others.

Self-promotion and interpersonal skills take time to develop and should be accomplished in a subtle, tasteful manner: it can be helpful to find a mentor outside your current company who can guide you through the process with a degree of separation from your chain of command.
There are personal brand marketing gurus that can offer lots of insight on the topic of self advocating: Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss and Gary Vaynerchuk among others.

Although learning to proactively promote your accomplishments takes practice and requires trial and error, it is an indispensible tactic in moving on to positions of increasing responsibility. Even if you worry you don’t deserve to – it is a difficult trick to master, and one that becomes important as you grow into your new biotech career.


Why Are Employers Ignoring Me?

Why Are Employers Ignoring Me?

It’s the million-dollar question among job applicants everywhere…. “I have good qualifications and work history. I think I meet the minimum requirements… Why haven’t I gotten a response to my application?” Or worse, “Why haven’t I heard back after my interview?”

The silent treatment after an application or interview isn’t all that uncommon. Some sources cite that up to 75% of applicants never hear back from employers after applying; even if it’s actually less than that, it seems there’s still a lot of applicants getting no response. So why exactly does this happen? And is there a way to prevent it?

The Application Black Hole

As it turns out, there may not be an easy answer to this. There may not be one specific reason you haven’t heard back; it could be a mix of factors, some within your control and some not. And there’s a good chance it’s nothing personal.

According to research conducted by both Glassdoor and FlexJobs, there are a variety of reasons for non-response to an application. Some of the more common include:

Sheer Volume

Most online job postings generate a considerable response with a substantial number of applicants submitting their qualifications. The larger and more well-known the company, and the larger the radius from which they are recruiting (think remote vs. geography-specific), that response could multiply exponentially. But even smaller companies with a more limited recruiting radius could be overwhelmed by applicants depending on the appeal of the role and the resources available to screen applications. It just may not be possible to respond to each applicant who expresses interest. “Ideally,” explains Sci.bio’s Director of HR Allison Ellsworth, “the ATS (applicant tracking system) used by a company will at least send a confirmation email that your application has been received so you know it successfully went through. Beyond that, the volume of candidates does not usually allow for personal follow up unless you have moved along in the interview process.” The volume of applications is not something that you as a candidate can control.

Recruiters/Hiring Managers Are Recruiting for More than One Role

It’s one thing to be focused on filling one role, but most recruiters are juggling multiple requisitions simultaneously. If the number of applicants for one opening can be overwhelming, imagine multiplying that by numerous openings that need to be filled as soon as possible. Add to that a full interview schedule and other recruiting-related tasks, and it quickly becomes very difficult to respond, even when recruiters/hiring managers have the best of intentions to do so.

Position Isn’t Actually Available

In some cases, it’s possible the position to which you applied isn’t available anymore, or something has shifted internally and the hiring team is reevaluating their needs. Maybe the role has already been filled, but the new hire hasn’t started yet and they don’t want to take the posting down prematurely in case it doesn’t work out, or maybe something budgetary changed and the position isn’t going to be filled, or maybe there is a new project taking priority and recruiting is on hold for now.

While all of these are out of a candidate’s control, they are still worth noting as they very well could be the reason for no response. But what about the things that candidates can control? Some of the most common in this category include:

Applying for Too Many Openings

Job searching is a numbers game to some extent; the more applications you put out into the world, the greater the chance you’ll hear back. But if you’re indiscriminate about what and where you apply, if you apply to jobs where your qualifications don’t really match, chances are you’re not going to hear back.

Resume Could Be To Blame

If you consistently don’t hear back but are fairly certain your background is a fit, it could be how your resume is crafted. Maybe it doesn’t effectively highlight your relevant experience and accomplishments, or isn’t using the right keywords and industry specific language.

How Do I Ensure I Get Noticed?

So, what can you do to increase your chances of being noticed and making it through the initial screening process? It comes down to three categories – your application/resume, your social media presence, and your networking efforts.

Application/Resume Hacks

There are a number of things you can do to make sure your applications are more targeted and put you in the best possible light. As previously mentioned, although you want to get some volume of applications out, spend a little extra time at this phase and be selective and thoughtful about the applications you submit.

  • Try to limit your applications to jobs that are truly a good fit for your background; it’s not necessary to meet all minimum qualifications, but make sure you meet some or most.
  • Research the companies you’re considering applying to and make sure their goals and values align with your own. Then try to convey that through examples on your resume or in a cover letter.
  • Craft your resume so that it’s not just a timeline of job titles and responsibilities, but also highlights specific projects and accomplishments, especially those that are relevant to the position. A good practice is to tweak your resume for each job you apply to.
  • Include links to your online presence (more on that next).

Social Media Hacks

In today’s world, your job application incorporates more than just the resume you submit. Most people have some kind of online presence, and many employers will check into it. Make sure you’re using your online presence to your advantage.

  • Although a professional headshot isn’t necessary, ensure any photos you use present you in a professional light.
  • Similarly, do a scan of any photo tags that are publicly viewable and remove any that could be controversial or present you in a less than ideal light.
  • Just like your resume, ensure that the language and keywords you’re using reflect the jobs and industries you are seeking and highlight any relevant projects or content; for instance, LinkedIn has a specific profile section where you can include information about projects, publications, or other work that may not be reflected on a resume.
  • Ensure your social media bios are succinct, relevant, and targeted to the jobs you’re seeking.

Networking Hacks

This may be the most understated yet most important piece of advice: don’t necessarily rely only on applying for a digital posting without human contact. We live in a world driven by relationships; who you know can often make a difference, or at least give you an edge. Often available jobs aren’t even posted publicly; the only way to hear about them is by knowing someone involved. Some estimates cite that 70% of available jobs are never posted and up to 80% are filled through networking.

When recruiters or hiring managers are overwhelmed with applicants, those they have a connection with will often rise to the top. When looking at equally qualified candidates, being a “known entity” could be the deciding factor in who moves on; minimally it may help guarantee your resume moves to the top of the pile and gets a second look.

So where do you start networking? How can you best leverage your network? Here are a few ideas:

  • Research the company and see who you might already know that works there. Ask those contacts for an introduction or at least a mention to those involved in the hiring process. Remind them to check the company’s employee referral policy–they may even get rewarded if you turn out to be a good fit!
  • If you don’t directly know someone who works there, look for the mutual connection. Use your social media profiles to dig a little deeper; LinkedIn company pages will show you who works there and whether or not you have mutual connections. Then reach out to those mutual contacts that you already have a rapport with and ask for an intro, a mention, or ask to have your resume directly passed along.
  • If you don’t have direct connections at a company or mutual connections that can facilitate an introduction, do your best to engage with recruiters. Seek them out on social networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter, and engage with or comment on their posts. By making yourself noticed, you’re more likely to be remembered when it comes to reviewing resumes. And if you engage enough and build an online relationship with them, you may even be able to ask them directly about available roles.

The key with networking is to be proactive. Build your networks before you need them and then they’ll be there to tap into when the opportunities arise.

But What If I Interviewed and Got “Ghosted?”

Let’s say you made it through the initial screening and interviewed for a role, but now you haven’t heard back from the employer. Or you were informed that you aren’t moving forward without any details about why. What’s a candidate to do in this situation?

Again, there could be a variety of reasons, many of which may be nothing personal. In the case of providing specific feedback, there could be legal implications in being too specific with candidates. Or maybe one person on the hiring team wanted you to move on, but someone else with more pull wanted someone else. Maybe the employer doesn’t have the time or resources to potentially open up a prolonged back-and-forth dialogue that providing feedback may initiate.

As for hearing nothing at all? That’s simply an unfortunate outcome of some hiring processes, and there’s not much you can do to control this. The best you can do is keep focused on the fact that it’s not you, it’s them. Many companies are now more focused on the candidate experience than in the past, and doing their best to ensure that even if it’s not specific feedback, candidates who interview at least receive a status update. However, the hard truth is that some companies just don’t or won’t do it for a variety of their own reasons. If a few weeks have gone by and you haven’t heard back, it is probably a safe assumption that you should move on to new possibilities.

The moral of the story here? There’s much that you can’t control, so focus your efforts on the parts you can. Revise and target your resume to the jobs you are seeking. Optimize your online presence to your advantage. Shore up your networking skills. And most of all… don’t give up!

What To Do When You Feel Like An Imposter

What To Do When You Feel Like An Imposter

The last few years have been tough for most of us. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our education, our workplaces, and our career plans. Many of us had to adjust to remote – or socially-distanced – work, while simultaneously handling greater family pressures and uncertainties. If you feel you’re barely scraping by while your peers are thriving…don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

Social media and emergent technologies do a lot to simplify the work of a STEM professional, but they also contribute to an increased sense of imposter syndrome: the persistent inability to believe that your success is deserved, or was legitimately achieved as a result of your own efforts or skills.

Imposter syndrome is made worse by social media: many STEM professionals post curated career highlights on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, or spin their failures into inspiring stories of success and resilience. The need to post regularly on social media sites to keep your profile visible also creates a steady stream of doubt-sowing content.

Many scientists pride themselves on their industriousness and technical expertise, and see success as a direct result of hard work, so to believe you aren’t the skilled expert becomes even more demoralizing. Imposter syndrome can make your work life anxious and miserable, and hold you back from opportunities you’re qualified for, or from sharing your knowledge and skills with others.

Controlling your sense of imposter syndrome is a life-long challenge, but there are several ways you can overcome those intrusive, demoralizing thoughts.

Managing Imposter Syndrome

● Social media consumption in moderation, with plenty of ‘breaks.’ We can’t get away from work-related social media entirely, but online activity yields diminishing returns. Set limits on how long you spend on these sites each day, and give yourself breaks. The less time on social media, the less time you are spending playing the comparison game.

● Regular self-affirmations to combat negative thought patterns. The only way to disrupt the cycle of negative thoughts is to introduce new, positive thoughts into your head. Remind yourself that you were chosen for this job or task for a reason, and that you have as much right to be there as everyone else. Affirm to yourself that the negative thoughts are lies and not an accurate representation of your abilities.

● Build a supportive network. While you might feel like an uncomfortable fraud, your peers know the truth. Find a group of work colleagues or mentors who speak up when they hear you criticising yourself, and who can remind you of your strengths when you feel low.

● Track your wins. Create a physical record of your professional triumphs, big and small. There’s something about a list on paper or a word document that makes those wins seem more real, and it helps put any minor failures into context.

Just remember, most people experience imposter syndrome at some point during their training and career. In 2018 a systemic review of 62 papers and over 14,000 participants found up to 82% of survey respondents had imposter syndrome.

Feeling like an imposter on the job market? The friendly and knowledgeable recruiters at Sci.bio can help you uncover your strengths and make your biotech job application shine. Reach out to us to start the conversation today.