Job search tips for research in industry

Get ready to start your search

  • Consider the pro’s and con’s of working for a larger biotechnology company or start-up. Your skills, interests, and values may inform types of positions you want to apply for.
  • Geographic biotech clusters have dense opportunities, such as the Boston area, San Francisco Bay area, southern California, New York, Washington DC, Seattle and the North Carolina research triangle.
  • Identify companies that fit your experience using search engines such as BioSpace, LinkedIn, LexisNexis.

Find open positions

Prepare application materials

  • Job descriptions: Carefully read and interpret the job description.
    • Ask yourself: am I over-qualified or under-qualified? Save time by honing this skill early in your job search.
    • Rule of thumb: Apply if you are a fit for >60% of the job description.
  • Resume:Customize your resume to reflect the job description. Key areas you need to tailor include the Summary and Skills sections.
  • Cover letter: Write a compelling cover letter. Specify how your prior experience complements the position, your ability to do the job successfully, and include your motivation for applying to the specific posting and/or company.
  • Samples: Sample application materials can be found here (UCSF) and here (Harvard). Do not copy the wording in these documents. Doing so is considered plagiarism.
  • More tips:
    • Ask friends/colleagues/mentors to review your application materials. Send the job description and get feedback by asking, “Is it clear how my experience and skills fit the expectations for the position?”
    • Signal to a potential employer that you are a creative problem solver and willing to take risks to achieve success. Read about trying a bold move to get noticed during the job search.
    • Submit your application through personal correspondence as well as through the online HR process. Identify the Hiring Manager using LinkedIn, Google, and possibly your connections and address correspondence to this person.

Interviewing

The interview process typically starts with the phone interview. This first interview will determine whether you are technically qualified for the job, your communication skills, and if you would enjoy doing the work. Read about typical questions asked during the interview.

Phone or Skype interviews

Interviewer’s goal: Select the top candidates for in-person interviews by having a short conversation to confirm the candidate’s perceived strengths and ability to communicate professionally
 
  • Prepare for technical and behavioral interview questions. Read about preparing for interview questions.
  • Schedule a quiet space with a landline or wired ethernet connection if possible. The GSBS conference room is AV-equipped and can be reserved by contacting the cBCD.
  • Put a note on the door, “Interview in progress. Please do not interrupt.”
  • At the time of the interview, have your resume, the job description and a pen and paper ready for taking notes, and water.
  • Expect to talk with several interviewers. Be ready to write down their names. If you are interviewing via Skype, write the names on a sticky note and place it next to the video camera ahead of time, so you can maintain eye contact.
  • Be clear when you have finished talking by ending each of your responses with a definitive statement. On a phone call this is especially important because you are missing visual cues.
  • You will probably be given the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview.  Be prepared with thoughtful questions that clarify the position.
  • Be confident and professional. Stand or sit in a power pose.

In-person interview

  • When invited for an in-person interview, be prepared. Ask the HR person or hiring manager what the format of the day will look like.
  • When talking to people individually, start with your brief value statement (aka elevator pitch). This prepared statement serves as a starting point for conversation.
  • Prepare for the job talk. Consider the broad audience and discuss the impact of your research. Discuss your ability to join the team successfully and hit the ground running.  Read more about acing your job talk.
  • Dress appropriately. It is often said that you cannot over-dress for an interview, but be flexible. Read more interview attire tips.

Follow-up after the interview

  • Reflect on your experience. Will it fit you personally and professionally?
  • Write a thank you e-mail for each person you met with during the interview day within 24 – 48 hrs. Express appreciation for their time and also comment on something interesting that you learned from your conversation.

Negotiation

  • Nervous about negotiation? A common misconception in negotiation is that you have no bargaining power. Negotiation is part what you say and all about how you say it.
  • Be prepared to negotiate during the interview. Read typical questions and suggested responses for negotiation success.
  • When you are offered the job, express enthusiasm about the offer and the job. Then ask for the offer details in writing.
  • Prepare for your conversation by knowing which topics you will negotiate and which variables you are willing to concede. Read strategies for negotiating compensation packages.

Local Resources

  • Receive feedback from cBCD staff on your application materials, or discuss interview and negotiation strategies for your industry job search.
  • Read materials in the Job Search Skills section of the cBCD Special Collection in the Lamar Soutter Library.

Additional Resources

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