Recap and random advice

4/5/2018 5:00:03 PM

With spring fever in the air and graduation right around the corner, some of you might be getting a little antsy about what comes next. For those of you entering the job market soon or exploring career paths, here is a recap of recent posts to help you with your searches. (And, ICYMI, here are the top ASBMB Careers Blog posts from 2017.)  

While positions listed in the weekly job roundups may no longer be open, these posts provide insight on job-search strategies, useful career resources and examples of the types of jobs available out there.  

March 2018

February 2018 January 2018  

Also, during my tenure so far at the careers blog, I have collected some random career advice that I also wanted to share with you.  

Writing for this blog, I spend a lot of time searching for jobs, and let me tell you, it can be super frustrating (as you all are well aware). For example, if I see one more job without a posting date and no application deadline, I’m going to scream and throw my computer out the window. But, in all seriousness, here are some tips for taking a streamlined and strategic approach to job searching, which will make this process more efficient and save some of your sanity, too.    

Tip #1. Streamline the job-search and application process

  • For job searches, make yourself a weekly checklist of your favorite job boards and other resources to check out. (See previous blog posts for recommended job boards, and don’t forget to add the ASBMB Job Board to your list). Importantly, identify the keywords most relevant to your desired career path to use for these searches. When possible, set up alerts on each job board using these keywords to automate the search process.

  • Have basic application materials ready to go. While many will advise to tailor your application materials to each job posting (and to an extent this is true in terms of making sure relevant keywords and experience are included), if you are applying to similar types of positions you can have a solid résumé that can be used for generic purposes and other templates (e.g., cover letter) prepared. This tip also includes notifying any references that you are on the job market and providing them with an updated résumé.

  • Set realistic goals for yourself (e.g., spend 30 minutes doing job searches each week, apply for two jobs a week) to make the process more manageable and avoid burnout.

  • Keep a spreadsheet of which jobs you have applied for with basic application information (e.g., date applied, job closing date) and any follow-up actions required. Also, be sure to save a copy of the job description for your records, because postings may be taken down after a closing date. If you are called for an interview, you’ll have on hand the specifics of the position.  

Tip #2. Set criteria for whether you will apply for a specific job

  • Many job postings either don’t list the job posting date or the application deadline (or both). If this is the case, try to find out if the position is still open. You can contact the person listed in the posting, do some research to figure out whose lab it might be in (if a contact is not listed) or call the human-resources department. (I have had mixed results in doing so for this blog, but, when people do respond, it’s always been super positive.) If you can’t find out this info, you may want to move on and conserve your time for jobs you know are open.

  • If an application deadline for a job is coming up immediately, don’t get bogged down in the details of tailoring your application materials and just submit something, which is way better than not applying at all.

  • As you’ll notice, many employers will write out their wish lists of job qualifications in a posting. Many times, all of these qualifications are not required (especially those listed as preferred). If you meet the minimum qualifications, know that you have or can learn the skills required and are super interested in the job, then apply.  

Tip #3. Be proactive in your approach to finding jobs

  • Stay updated on funding news in your field of interest. If an institution or lab recently has been awarded a new grant or other major funding, then chances are they may be hiring in the near future. I have found several jobs for listing on the careers blog this way.
  • Another great tip comes from Angela Hopp (ASBMB communications director) who advises to “never underestimate the potential of a cold outreach.” For example, she said, a few years back, an undergraduate walked into the ASBMB headquarters to ask about internship opportunities and ended up working there for the summer. More recently, ASBMB communications intern Laurel Oldach came aboard after doing cold outreach to Catherine Goodman at the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Though the JBC didn’t have an opening, Angela’s team did. So, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask about opportunities.

  • Follow up with people if you don’t hear a response the first time. Emails get lost and people get busy, so it’s always a good idea to reach out multiple times with sufficient time breaks in between. I generally follow a three-strikes-and-they’re-out rule by sending two emails plus one phone call, with at least a few business days to a week between communication attempts.

  • Reach out to people in advance of science conferences. For example, I found many open jobs in advance of the Society for Neuroscience Meeting last year by searching for the conference hashtag on Twitter. The 2018 ASBMB Annual Meeting is coming up soon and may be an opportunity to find folks who are hiring, even if you cannot attend the meeting in person. Check out the hashtag #ASBMB2018 on Twitter to stay updated on related news and to network with attendees.

Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.  

Stay updated on new posts by following the ASBMB on social media or click “follow” on this blog (must be a member and signed in). Also, be sure to check out the ASBMB Job Board for even more job listings