Networking does not work everywhere

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Networking does not work everywhere

Postby Val » Fri Jan 07, 2005 2:34 pm

Dave Jensen wrote:

> Why don't you just trash the whole idea of
> those crazy sites and just focus on your
> networking campaign? Believe me, that will
> have more impact on your search than anything else.

Hi Dave,

It seems you have answers to all hard questions. I would like to hear you sharing your opinion on the following question.

Everyone recommends that networking is the method by which most of the jobs are filled while replying to the job ad gives you an insignificant chance. This seems to be true in the US, but not in the countries such as Canada, Australia, NZ where science is not required to support industry and economy. Jobs for people with PhD are very far and between. The available scientist jobs are the postdoctoral researcher and a lecturer at university, and a research scientist at governmental laboratory -- and there are too few of such jobs. For this reason, networking seems not to work. If you are just "good specialist" AND support good relations with the prospective hiring managers, this will not get you a job. There are enough of jobs only for the "best buddies" of the hiring manager. One seems to get to be a "best buddy" of a hiring manager only by birth in the right family. Can you, Dave, give advice of how to deal with such a situation ? (Besides advising younger scientists to join Aussie/NZ/Canadian scientists already in immigration in England/USA.)

Because those countries do not innovate and do not develop scientifically new products, there are no jobs in technology transfer, regulations and business development which in the US act as a harbour for the people who missed an opportunity of a job of research scientist in over-crowded academia or in industry. Anti-intellectualism is rampant in industry in those countries, which makes the industry a very sorry place to be for a thinking person.

I observed many people who finished their PhD or postdoc, and went to open up a restaurant as a more perspective line of career/business. Or, most of us may eventually to follow the jobs to the South-East Asia ?


Networking does not work everywhere

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jan 07, 2005 2:53 pm

Hi Val,

An interesting post. Having never lived in those countries you mention, I have no personal recollections about them that can change your mind about how "things work" there. I've visited all those countries, however, and in each visit my feelings about how important networking is have been bolstered, not diminished.

But first of all, you are right that NO ONE METHOD of job seeking works all the time. There are five of them, right? I'd use ALL FIVE. Job Fairs, Replying to Ads, Networking, Recruiters, Internet. My guess is that people get hung up by spending too much time on one method. For example, if I were in a job search I would load up on networking contacts, while giving job ads too little time. Another person, a young scientist, may gravitate to the internet and zoom around filling out online applications while never making a networking call. So, I guess the best advice is that no matter where you live, you need to put time in on all of these methods (of course, recruiters are not a suitable way to go for new graduates and postdocs -- they work only with experienced industry people). Having only one tool in your job search skills "toolbox" is like the carpenter who has only a hammer, and then every problem starts to look like a nail.

One comment I can make about when "networking doesn't work" is about a trip I made to Spain. In that country, there are some great schools turning out wonderful life sciences grads, but there are only a few employers. Primarily big pharma manufacturing operations and chemical companies. So, my talks at two major Universities about "networking" fell on deaf ears. It wasn't until I started asking them about the successful people they know that we determined that networking had indeed been key. The successful people that these young scientists pointed to had all found jobs in Holland, Germany, Sweden, etc, and in biotechnology companies. And they had found them, not through ads, but by making contact with Spanish ex-Pats in those regions and networking.

So - While I'm not trying to suggest that this is the only tool to use, I do believe that even in economies where there is too little emphasis on science, those people who wish to remain in the field have used this "tool" to find work elsewhere.

Can't say that I agree with you about only high-born people making the cut for jobs in Aus, NZ, Canada, etc. My experience in the Victoria Aus biotech market is that they look for people who can fill their needs, no matter where they are born. They've headhunted a bunch of American scientists to Canada, Aus, NZ, in the last couple of years. In the States, most of us aren't really very high born . . . :)

PS - I wrote an article about the Canadian success in sequencing the SARS virus, and in the research for that piece I asked the department heads how they assembled their unique teams of scientists who were from other parts of Canada in addition to the USA and England. The response was, universally, that they started asking people "who they'd recommend." This kind of networking from a hiring manager is known as "reverse networking" and if a person is well-networked themselves, they find each other. Read the article at Canadian Innovation on the World Stage . . .

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