You found your perfect job post. What comes next?

3/2/2015 11:51:32 AM

Looking for other tips on how to find and secure a job? I wrote posts on networking, strategies for job searching (part I and part II), and how to decipher a job post. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback or suggestions. Leave a comment or reach out to ASBMB on Twitter or Facebook!

In this blog, we focus usually on finding awesome job openings, and we’ve talked about different ways to do so: networking, strategically searching job boards, and matching your skills and job descriptions. However, once you find that perfect job posting, you may be asking yourself, “What next?” This week, I was inspired to talk a little more about the job-acquisition process. I’m about to start a new job, so I have recent experience with this process, and it is fresh in my mind. I hope these tips can guide you successfully to landing your dream job!

Nonacademic jobs

Searching for a nonacademic job can be distilled into six basic steps.

Step 1: Search and identify jobs of interest. This should be familiar to readers of this blog, and you can even use these weekly job posts as a resource to help you do this!

Step 2: Fill out online applications or use your network contacts to submit your resume and cover letter. I’ve covered this part of the process before as well (click here for a refresher on resumes and here for one on networking).

Step 3: Receive an interview request. Congratulations! They want to interview you for your dream job. You’ll definitely want to prepare for the interview by researching the company and your position. As someone who’s sat on the hiring side of the interview table, I can tell you there’s no quicker way to distinguish yourself than presenting a clear idea of how you can fit into the company. It also doesn’t hurt to review your past accomplishments that can be used as examples to demonstrate qualifications based on the required experience listed in the job advertisement.

Step 4: Follow up after the interview with a thank-you email to your interviewers. Take the time to send individual emails if you have the contact information for everyone you spoke to during the interview. This isn’t optional: It’s considered basic courtesy because they took time out of their schedules to meet you!

Step 5: You aced your interview, and now you’ve received an offer! Time to negotiate start date, salary, any vacations you have planned or pending, benefits, etc. Before entering these negotiations, it doesn’t hurt to do some more research about what the typical salary for this role looks like, at this company or at other companies, as well as any standard benefits the company provides. This information may be available on the company website and other websites like Glassdoor.

Step 6: Accept the job offer and notify all other pending offers to withdraw your application if necessary. It’s a reality of job searching that you may be juggling several interviews and offers simultaneously. Once you’ve made your decision, you owe it to the other companies with whom you have pending interviews or offers to step aside gracefully and let them know you will no longer be pursuing those jobs. It can be hard to turn down a job you were initially excited about, but don’t delay or draw out this process– it’s unfair to the other candidates who may want that job.

So, there you have it: the basic steps to securing your dream job. Some companies will have multiple rounds of interviews, placement exams, background checks, drug screenings, etc. to complete as well, so be prepared for some deviations from this framework. If you feel ready to try out this process, I’ve rounded up a sampling of nonacademic jobs ready for your application below.

Celgene (San Diego) seeks a senior associate scientist in biologics development with a B.S. in analytical chemistry, biochemistry or other relevant discipline and a minimum of eight years of biotech/pharmaceutical laboratory experience.

Calico Labs (South San Francisco) seeks a research associate or senior research associate in cell biology/biochemistry. Applicants should have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in biology, cell biology, molecular biology or biochemistry as well as multiple years of experience with tissue culture and cell-based assays.

Takeda (Cambridge, Mass.) seeks a senior scientist II in cell and molecular biology to join its molecular and cellular oncology group. Applicants should have a Ph.D. with five to 10 years of additional experience relevant to cancer drug discovery.

Fluidigm (San Francisco) seeks a senior scientist in molecular biology with a M.S. or physics, materials science, engineering, molecular biology or chemistry. Applicants should also have experience developing applications on microfluidic devices.

Academic jobs

Since I don’t have experience searching for an academic job, I asked a graduate school colleague of mine, Tonya Gilbert, to shed some light on her recent experiences securing a postdoctoral fellowship. Gilbert is a research fellow at MGH/Harvard Medical School in the lab of Jacob Hooker. She outlined her job acquisition experience into six basic steps, similar to the process for nonacademic jobs.

Step 1: Search and identify laboratories of interest. Reflect on the unique skills you can offer and what you hope to learn. Do you want to transition to a new field? Do you want to learn a new technique? As yourself these questions to help outline your strategy.

Step 2: Prepare cover letters specific to each laboratory that clearly state why you are interested. In your letters, offer reference names and contact information (make sure you check with your references first). Email these cover letters with an up-to-date CV attached. You might consider coordinating with your current adviser to email a letter of reference on the same day to make sure your potential new adviser gets a complete package in their inbox.

Step 3: Hooray, you’ve received an interview request! Prepare for the interview by reading publications from the laboratory and researching potential project ideas. Create a polished presentation on your own work and practice communicating your thesis findings effectively. If the interview is by remote, consider asking for a site visit to further inform your decision.

Step 4: Follow up with thank-you emails to the interviewers.Use individual emails to each person you met, and add details of your conversation if possible. Taking notes during your interview may help you do that.

Step 5: With that polished presentation and stellar thank-you emails, you receive an offer, and you can accept your new position.

Step 6: Keep in close contact with your new adviser about your graduation progress. You have to buckle down and finish your thesis research, possibly publish some papers, plan and give a thesis defense, and possibly coordinate a move to a new city. The final six months of graduate school are a whirlwind, but you need to check in and keep your new adviser informed of any substantial changes in your timeline.

This process might differ depending on the labs to which you apply, so, as with nonacademic jobs, don’t be alarmed if some steps move or get added or changed. Below are a few academic jobs you can use if you’re ready to practice these skills.

The University of California, Berkeley, integrative biology department  (Berkeley, Calif.) seeks applicants for a postdoctoral position studying the evolution of metabolic physiology of insects in the lab of Caroline Williams. Applicants should have a Ph.D. in biochemistry, physiology or molecular biology.

The University of Virginia biology department (Charlotte, Va.) seeks candidates for a research associate (postdoctoral) position in the lab of Cristian Danna to study novel plant defense mechanisms and reciprocal mechanisms in microbial pathogens. Requires a Ph.D. in molecular biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry or a related field.

Goucher College (Baltimore, Md.) invites candidates to apply for a postdoctoral teaching fellowship in the chemistry department. Contribute to analytical and general chemistry courses, and teach a course with lab for nonscience majors emphasizing the environmental applications of chemistry. Requires a Ph.D. in chemistry. (Goucher, by the way, has a unique approach to admissions: It accepts video applications!)

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