This post continues my discussion about academia to industry, and how I got from there to here.
I made the decision to get a job in industry, and was immediately faced with the task of: “Ok, now how do I do that?” And the sad truth is that it’s entirely different than academia.
You need people to be able to find you from the sea of other options/people. You then need them to want to talk to you. And only then, at the interview, is the job won or lost. So we’ll start where I started, putting yourself into the ether of the job market and making yourself known. And you start by developing a LinkedIn profile.
I know a few academics have a profile, but most people in academia haven’t taken it too seriously. But recruiters and employers really do look at them. And building a good one is non-trivial.
Pick a professional photo for your profile picture. Not a photo of you pulling frogs from your experimental ponds, or pipetting like a pro (unless you’re applying for a laboratory role). Get a headshot of you looking smart and professional. And if you don’t have one, have one taken. Pay for it. It’s your first foot forward, and it’s worth the investment.
Write a “personal statement”. This should all be visible without someone having to expand the “more” tab. Make it catchy and easy to understand. “I’m a scientist passionate about making data driven decisions”. Or “I have spent a career focused on increasing understanding of statistics”
Next, list all your jobs. Include your PhD and MS and postdoc positions. No need to go back before then, no one cares that you worked at McDonald’s in high school. (However, if you had significant work experience before or during your academic journey, consider whether the position might be relevant to include, especially if it involved related analytic work or was a management position.) Under each position, list what you did in that position. This is remarkably similar to the academic PhD. Now, go back and make all your descriptions of your jobs entirely free of jargon. Make the bullet points simple and easy to understand. Each one should be no more than 10 words. NO MORE THAN 10 WORDS. You’re not trying to sound smart here, you’re trying to get a recruiter who has no or limited knowledge of science to know that you’re worth talking to. Feel free to steal language DIRECTLY from job posts of jobs you might want. If the job post says: “need to be able to multitask in a fast paced environment” write “I am able to multitask in a fast paced environment”. Plagiarism is ok here. Get used to this, you’re going to do it in a few different steps in the getting a job process.
Finally, go look at jobs you’re interested in on LinkedIn. At the bottom of each job, it says “you have X skills in common with others that are looking at this job”. Click on that and find out what skills your profile is missing. Do you have those skills too? Add them to your profile. Remember when I said it’s ok to plagiarize to some extent. When you have desired skills, you need to make sure other people – especially the job recruiters – know you do. (NOTE: there’s a huge difference in plagiarizing the description of the skills you have and making up a skill set you don’t have.)
Next week, we’ll go over how to make your resume good enough that recruiters looking at you will want to talk to you.
My current LinkedIn headshot. Photo credit to my great good friend Cat Thrasher