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It's all (mostly all) about networking

PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2006 3:22 pm
by D. John
Like many readers of this forum, I was initially put off by the entire focus put on the whole networking component of the job search. Let's face it, having to network just doesn't seem fair. You've put in your time and paid the dues...why should securing a great job in industry come down to making connections? Well, after being in industry for 6 years, I can personally attest to the fact that 90% of landing a job can be attributed to networking....never fails; each and every time I've found myself on the outside looking in, it was primarily through connections I've made that my next job emerged. Not surprisingly, my latest bout with unemployment was no different. After being unemployed for exactly 1 month, having been laid off from my previous position with a biotech. company, I've just landed a research position with a biotech. company....a R&D job I have focused my entire career on obtaining. It's all about making connections and then capitalizing on those relationships to tilt the game in your favor. Yes, a good resume and even better pedigee (grad school, etc.) are all beneficial, but the bottom line is it's always in your favor if the hiring manager can pick up the phone and talk to someone within the "circle of trust".......a mutual acquaintance or colleague. Jobs and careers are often on the line when it comes to hiring; companies invest lots of $$ and effort to put together a winning team. It's just so much less risky when it's done through a mutual connection.

John

It's all (mostly all) about networking

PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2006 11:24 pm
by Val

It's all (mostly all) about networking

PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 3:50 am
by Otch
Dr John

If I remember correctly, you worked as an application scientist. And you were happy there.

I have heard that it is very difficult for a person to get back into RD after that person has left RD. An application scientist is not a RD person. Can you explain how did you get back into RD after a career as an application scientist? Networking?

It's all (mostly all) about networking

PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 7:05 am
by Dave Jensen
Val said, "I know quite a number of people (on other forum) who critisized Dave Jensen for teaching the idea to fresh graduates that brazen promotion to employers will get them a job."

Some people, particularly older scientists who didn't come up in the same system we have today, look at the number of jobs (low) and the number of available scientists (high) and think that there should be a balance in both sets of numbers so that the process could go back to "the way it used to be," where one simply mails off a CV and you are hired based upon your qualifications and your fit for a job. While I agree that we should all argue for such a solution, I believe that it is a pipe dream now. Those balanced numbers will never happen again.

Instead, we need to teach young people how today's system works. To beat the odds, you don't need "brazen self promotion" but you DO need to know how to talk confidently about yourself, and how to aggressively search for work. It's a competition. Just like the 1-in-10 or 1-in-20 competition that scientists are faced with on the tenure track -- industry jobs have tough competition as well. Perhaps this is a part of the culture of industry. Because it follows right through to companies and the world they live in . . . there are 1-in-10 or higher odds stacked against a biotech company making it, because of competition and the fact that the work they do is so difficult.

In this environment -- where competition forces people and organizations to act as if they are gladiators in a Roman coliseum -- each successful scientist has this suit of armor that they put on before going out there to compete. This suit of armor is the way that you speak about yourself or your company. Not the arrogant, pompous talk of a salesman or some unscrupulous self-promoter, but the confidant, practiced sound of a person who knows how to speak up when someone picks them from the crowd of applicants and says "Tell me about yourself."

Dave

It's all (mostly all) about networking

PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2006 1:22 pm
by D. John
There are quite a lot of benefits/perks that come with Applications work, and I really did like this type of work. However, my first love has always been bench research. I have wanted to return to R&D for quite some time; Demonstrating to a hiring manager the passion I still have for research is one of the easiest tasks I can do.
It may not be clear to many on this forum the advantages of doing apps work. A major advantage of being an apps scientist is the number of contacts (inside and outside of industry) that are made each and every day. In addition, the demand for scientists with sales/customer experience is growing. The ability to think outside the gel box is a marketable skill that might not be on the radar screen of many scientists who desperately want to get their foot in the door of industry.

John

It's all (mostly all) about networking

PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:07 pm
by Garth Fowler
Hi All –

Perhaps the question should be, why are scientists so averse to networking?

I think this is a very intriguing issue. In my opinion, scientists do already know HOW to network; they have just never called it that. Nor have they ever had to apply networking to get a job. So when they are suddenly told that ‘getting a job requires networking today,’ they find is strange and foreign.

Any good scientists knows that when you attend a scientific meeting, some of the important objectives are to talk with other scientists in your field, discuss the work being done in the field, integrate how his/her work fits into what others are doing, and come home with new ideas and insights for future experiments (a game plan on what to do next, so to speak). ALL my mentors and advisors, in both graduate school and my postdoc, told me this. However, no one ever said the word networking to me. That is all networking (perhaps low-key networking, but still the same principles are in play).

Today when I do training events on networking, I try to get my audience to realize that they do have some informal training in networking, that most have been using this training already, but now it is time to practice and become more efficient. More importantly, I tell them this time there they have a very specific goal: to develop a game plan for getting a job (as opposed to one for the next set of experiments). It is a subtle twist – but very successful.

Garth Fowler
Outreach Program Manager,
ScienceCareers.org

What IS networking?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 12:49 am
by Tony
Everyone keeps saying I should do it, but for the life of me, I am not exactly sure what I am supposed to be doing. Chatting with people at conferences? Well, that might be useful for ten days a year for a typical grad student or post-doc. What about the other 355? In any case, it seems that 95% of the people with whom I can actually strike up a conversation (without an introduction) at a conference are other grad students and post-docs. Professors and corporate scientists aren't just hanging around waiting to chat with job-seekers.

I'd like to know exactly what it means to network - something concrete I can do today, in the little half-hour gap while my experiment runs, or something I can do at lunch.

What IS networking?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 4:52 am
by Val

What IS networking?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 5:11 am
by Dave Jensen
Hi Chad,

First, in order to get good advice, you have to tell us what your career direction is.

If you are going for a job in industry, you want to talk to people who are just a year or two ahead of you, and who have already made that transition. This isn't at conferences exclusively, although that's a good place to talk. (At conferences, industry scientists give posters just like academic scientists. Walk up and start a conversation.) The point is this . . . you need to open yourself up and talk to people who do not know you. It's a real shocker to find that in order to make progress you actually have to talk about yourself to strangers, but hey . . . .that's the name of the game.

There are a lot of posts here from people who've made a science out of this. Write them if they have a direct email, or post for more specific information. Remember, the golden rule of networking is that you are asking someone for information about how THEY made the transition, not about your need for a job.

Dave

What IS networking?

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 7:15 am
by Tony
Currently, I am a chemistry post-doc. Chemists generally do not have multiple post docs, and I am currently searching for an industrial position. This was my intention upon entering grad school. One complication is that my current post-doc position is overseas, making networking with Americans more challenging than usual. I will probably attend one international conference here and one back in the states at some point this year, assuming I do not find a job first. I know that I must talk to people at conferences (easier said than done for an introvert like me, but I long ago learned to do it), but what I am looking for is something I can do today to help my chances. I do not want to wait until the September conference and then try to have a five-day networking blitz!