Do You Know Your Preferred Companies?

preferred companiesyour preferred companiesyour preferred companiesyour preferred companiesyour preferred companies

Do you know your preferred companies?

Your preferred companies are the ones you are most interested in working for?  Do you follow them?  Even if you are not currently looking for a job, this process is essential for your career.  

In the webcast, I show you a number of websites that you might want to check out to start developing your list.  This will help you at large networking event as well as finding your next role.

There are thousands of companies that might need your skills and thousands that don’t. But you have to be the one who chooses where to start. There are no Fairy Job Mothers who will take your bucket of skills and drop a job in your lap.  And, if you have spent time and money to get a specialized degree or years of your life learning your trade, you don’t want to work at Macy’s!

 3 things you need before you start your job search and none of them is a resume! 

Finding Your Industry and Companies

How do you prep for your interviews?

How do you prep for your interviews?

Interviews are NOT like being hauled into the principal’s office.  

Interviews are NOT like being hauled into the principal’s office.  

Don’t start out in a “one down” position.  Remember that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.  Go in with confidence because you have prepared well.

Nor are interviews like networking coffee dates.

Make sure that they have a job you actually want, as well as one you can do. 

You know how, when you are shopping for a new house or even just a couch, the places and details can really run together.  Do not let this happen in your job search!! Keep notes!  You do NOT want to call the hiring manager by the name of the one at the last interview!!

Do let me know if you need some help with any of this.  You can schedule a time to practice or I can help you with the details of the prep! If you have never talked with me before, schedule here.   If we have already had our first conversation then schedule here or here

Why is it so hard to find a job?

Why is it so hard to find a job? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics  shows us that the unemployment rate for people with a professional degree or a PhD is less than 3% which is statistically 0%. 

Why is it so hard to find a job


So why is it so hard to find a job, even though the economy is better than it was? Especially for fresh inexperienced graduates and well-experienced Boomers?  What is holding you back? Or tripping you up?

Many people think that you find a job like you order a book on Amazon – go online and find the one that looks interesting, click and attach your CV and wait for “the call”. Or they think that holding one of those degrees above is the “E” ticket to a good job and being chased by headhunters and HR people. It is really depressing to find out that it isn’t so.

So what is the way?  The above method is very broken.  But you can still find the right job.

You have learned hard topics, like neurobiology and brain surgery.  Job search skills are not nearly as difficult, but must still be respected, thought through and employed. 

What skills do you think you don’t have or are missing that should make it easier? Are they lab or bioscience skills?  Or are they job search skills? Can you list your job search skills the way you can your science skills?  

Bonus tip: Learning the skills of job search is easy but there is quite a bit of misinformation or outdated methods still being taught online.  


If you need some personal help, just book a time to talk here


Or How to Fail at Job Search

Bioscience Job Interview Tips

skype-interviewThere are lots of sites with general advice for job interviews but very few for bioscience job seekers.

What differences have you found in these very specific bioscience jobs vs. more general ones?  

Here are some of the best I’ve seen lately

Ace Every Interview: Job Interview Tips That Will Impress Any Recruiter


The Brazen Careerist’s new book

While this is general, I love the clarity of the Brazen Careerist.  Research the company, prep and knowing yourself are the top takeaways.

Executive Level Job Interview Tips [Podcast]

Brief (62 seconds) podcast about the essential pre-interview steps.

Takeaway: Research, Rehearse, Rapport and Results.  Whether you are a scientist or a manager, these are essential!

The After-Interview Trick You’re Not Using

And specifically from Biospace for people in the bioscience industries. 

Takeaway: Make notes, write a thank you note, analyze the questions you were asked and learn from every interview

The One Empty Word to Avoid in a Job Interview

Another one from Biospace, but still rather generic

Takeaway:  Use “I” not “we”.  The manager wants to know what YOU can do, not what your team did.  He is not hiring your team.  And use those PAR statements!

I have a few questions I recommend that puts the manager in the mood to hire you.

Join us for Open Office Hours
Click Here to Register

Are You Still Leaving Your Bioscience Job Search Up To Chance?

Are you gambling on Lady Luck and leaving your bioscience job search up to chance?

Tweet: Sending your resume to an online job posting is about the same as shoving it in a bottle and setting it adrift in the ocean.

message in a bottle

The chances of getting a phone screen call about 2% according to UC-Berkeley and that is if you have actually read and used the keywords in the posted job position.

The chance that any single recruiter has your job when you need it (not six months ago or two years from now) AND that you are connected to or link in with that recruiter right now is even less.

Job postings fill 20% of open positions and recruiters fill about 5%.

Of course the other option will require much more work on your part (and you thought that updating your generic resume was hard!)

You need to be visible online so that recruiters you are not connected with can find you by using the keywords that they are looking for. How do you know what keywords they are looking for? You don’t. You can only know what keywords describe your skills, your expertise, your experience. When you use these top 10 words or phrases, and not fluff or buzzwords, they will allow the recruiter who does have your job to find you. But even better is to demonstrate the kind of problem solver you can be. No company hires unless they have a problem they cannot solve with the people they are already paying.

When the hiring manager, HR person, or recruiter searches online for someone to solve their problem they use the keywords that they use in-house. These keywords can be very specific to that particular company. You need to know what they are.

Since the company is hiring to solve the problem, and you have solved many problems, you need to know what the problem is, whether you want to solve it, and how to become known to the people trying to solve it before they can hire you.

You have many skills and many solutions to problems some of which never want to be paid to do or to solve. What problems do you want to solve? Can you sit down right now and list three interesting problems you would like to look at? Are they problems that companies are likely to have? What are the characteristics of those companies? Do you know anyone who is trying to solve these problems?


These are career questions job questions. Very few people think of being a barista as anything more than a job. In that industry the career path leads to manager or owner of a coffee shop and not to making the espresso machine work all day every day for eight hours. How do you think of your current job? Is it a career step? Or just a job you have so you can eat?

If you’ve been in the biosciences industries for any length of time at all you know that there are problems that be solved for every new drug target or lead. Which ones do you want to see again?

If you’ve just completed a postdoc, you have also solved problems, but some of them are not likely to be interesting to industry. Pure science simply doesn’t pay off in the market. Still you have skills that can be applied to industrial problems. Which ones do you want to use?

Once you have figured out what your keywords are, you need to use them in your LinkedIn profile Click here for a checklist on how and where to use them.

If you need more help with this I can do a quick LinkedIn Profile Review Click here for more information

if you need even more information and training about how to figure out what your next job should be and how to talk about it click here for more information

How to make your bioscience job search less frustrating

www.biosciencejobkit.comYou have just finished your dissertation defense and have changed focus to an industry job.  You have created your resume and you are spending time on your bioscience job search.  Although you have sent out over 50 resumes to the job boards for positions you think you can do, you have heard nothing.  Or perhaps you have received just an email saying “we got your resume”.  And not a single recruiter has called you, even though you filled in a Profile on LinkedIn.  It has been a month. Frustration does not begin to express what’s going on inside you!


No one has ever taught you how to find a job in the bioscience industries. You know everything there is to know about molecular engineering or other technical field but have no clue about how to get a job. And on top of that recruiting and hiring are generally broken.

There are three basic ways that industry fills the jobs they have. One is by recruiters. But this will cost the company the most. So no company uses a retained or contingency search firm to find entry-level candidates. And recruiters really only see about 5% of the jobs that need to be filled.

Let’s look at the process of hiring. What happens first is that the person who is trying to do your job and their own job knows the team needs to hire somebody long before the hiring manager does. When the hiring manager realizes that the work is not going to get done in the amount of time scheduled for it, he or she says, “Oh, damn, we have to hire someone! Who do we know?”

75% of all jobs are filled at the “who-do-we-know” level. This includes people who are already working at the company because they’re already known, liked, and trusted. The other known people are referrals from people whom the hiring manager already knows.

If no one on the team knows someone for the open spot, then the hiring manager calls HR and says, “Find me a {title}”. The HR person may ask for more details or may say, “Oh yeah, we hired one of those not long ago. I’ll use the same position description.” This means that the position description may or may not be exactly what the hiring manager needs.


www.biosciencejobkit.comHR will upload it to the applicant tracking system, a computer software program that receives and scans all resumes and applications, saves them, matches the words in the resumes and applications to the position description, and creates a list of people whose applications and resumes matched the position description. This computer does not care what your objective is. It does not know synonyms. It only cares that you have used the same words in your resume that were programmed into it from the job description.


Every time and HR person posts a job to the Internet somewhere between 100 and 500 people apply. Of those 100 to 500, many just want “a job any job”. And in self-defense, HR has chosen to screen the applications. Only 2% of the people who apply online get a first screening call. All the rest of the applications disappear into the “black hole”.


chronological_resumeIf you do make it through the applicant tracking system (ATS), the next person to look at your resume will be someone in HR. If you are applying for a very technical position, using very technical terms, it is unlikely that the person whose job it is to screen the resumes that made it through the ATS will actually understand those terms. It is their job to reduce the number of resumes from a potential of 10 down to five that the hiring manager will have time to look at.

woman on phone

If this particular position has been filled by this particular HR person before, she may understand enough about what the company needs to hire to be able to do the first prescreen. Or it may be left to the hiring manager.


So how can we make this less frustrating? Well first of all, only apply online for jobs that match your skills by at least 85%. You will need to be able to prove that. If you don’t have 85% of the requirements, don’t apply. Why send your resume to a black hole? Many companies have enormous databases of black hole resumes and never search through them again. So do yourself in the HR team a favor and only apply to the jobs which actually do meet your skills.


Second step, if you’re applying online, is to use the language that the position description uses to describe those skills. If you have used a software program that is the next generation of the one they’re asking for in the position description and think “everybody knows that this is the better program” you are simply shooting yourself in the foot.


Third step, a resume is not a CV. It does not include everything you’ve ever done. It is an advertisement, designed to get you an interview by proving that you can solve the problem they’re facing.

networking over lunch

So how can you know what problem they’re facing? This is why 75% of jobs are filled by networking. People who are networked, or friends with, or at least have had coffee with, person who is trying to solve a problem will know better than you can what that problem it is. They will be using the same language that the person with the problem is using to talk about it. Not English or German, but in-house jargon and lingo. The more you know about the company, the team, the goals, and the problems, the easier it will be for you to get the job you want.


Do you know how to network? It’s more like dating than it is like ordering a pizza. For more help and information go to:

or drop me a note:

or invite me to LinkedIn at


Finding and being found

So how does finding your next job really work? Some people, when about to lose a job or just after finishing an assignment, think of themselves as “being available for reassignment” or “available”.  This may work for rock stars, star athletes and other people, famous for their particular skills and expertise, but it really does not for the majority of workers.  If it does work for you, stop reading.

For the rest of us, job search really is about finding and being found.  You have to do both.  Waiting to be found is like being the average-looking high school good girl who is “available” but still doesn’t get asked to the dance because the average high school boy just didn’t ask.  


message in a bottleSo how can you find the right next job and how can you be found? 

The first step is to know what skills and expertise you have and how to express those skills in the language of the people you want to know about them.  The internet has given us the expression “keywords”.  These are words and phrases used in your area of expertise that are searched for by recruiters, used in job postings, spoken by hiring managers when they ask HR to find someone and used over the cafeteria tables by the teams that work for them.  They are specific and technical.  They are rarely aspirational or even motivational.  Do you know what your keywords are?

You can find your keywords in your old resumes, your old performance reviews, your old profiles.  A better place to find them is in the profiles of people with titles you want, job descriptions of jobs you want, on the websites of the companies you are most interested in and in conversation with the people in the companies you want.

Some examples:

  • Actinobacteria
  • Bacillus
  • Bacteroides
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Drug Discovery
  • Escherichia coli
  • Gastrointestinal Tract
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Operon
  • Pseudomonas

Yes, it is very specific and won’t find you “Any job” (as in “I want a job, any job”).  It will enable you to manage a career you really want.  Remember that hiring managers don’t hire generically, they hire to solve a specific problem.  Yes, they do want more than that, but to get in the door, you have to speak their language.

How do you use these keywords to be found?

Use them, in natural language and in lists, in your online profiles, your introductions, your resumes, your conversation, your posts and comments on LinkedIn Groups and G+ Communities and BioWebSpin Public postings and wherever people look at you. (Well, not on a sign around your neck at the grocery store!)  Work them into your PAR statements and “dragon-slaying stories”.  And make it sound natural, not like you just plunked them in randomly.  You need to sound like you actually know what a “metabolic network” (or whatever your keyword is) is and why it is important. 

What doesn’t work:

Using “fluff” words or overused desperate phrases like:

  • Highly qualified
  • Results focused
  • Effectual leader
  • Has talent for
  • Energetic
  • Confident
  • Professional
  • Successfully
  • Proactive

You need to show that you are these things using your keywords in PAR statements. 

detective with magnifying glass 700x900Yesterday I received by US Post a well written letter on expensive paper from an experienced Executive Vice President of Operations for a medical group.  He is looking for a job. I’m not sure he is finding one. Never mind that I don’t work in that particular part of the industry.   I’m sure he hired someone to write the letter and send it for him.  I can pick out the keywords, but it isn’t easy.  I have no idea what his medical group specialized in (and medicine is very specialized).  I know he is a Vet, I know his phone number.  I can reach him only by US mail or by phone and no way to email him.  His lovely letter went in the recycle bin.  Do all recruiters do that?  Probably.  Some have “do not send a resume” notes on their websites, some take resumes but simply warehouse them until (if ever) they get a search.  Some few will connect with him, but what is the ROI on his investment in hiring a writer and sending these willy-nilly. 

If I were in his specific part of the “healthcare” industry, I would look him up on LinkedIn. So for this article I did.  Now that I have seen it, I’m a bit more interested.  He has some background in my industry –  Parexel, Pfizer and clinical trials operations.  These did not appear in his letter. Most of the letter is rather desperate, focused on why he is looking or rather generic “There is no such animal as a perfect candidate for a healthcare senior executive position”.  Yes, it does finally tell me what position he is interested in (CEO, COO of a medical group) , but I’m a pretty straight forward person with no time to waste. 

I would be happier if he had used the content of his letter (or some portion of it) to invite me to LinkIn with him.  If he had, I would have accepted his invitation (as would most recruiters – but don’t have more than 10% of your LinkedIn connections be recruiters) and let him know that, while I’m glad to be connected, I don’t have anything on my desk at this moment that would suit him.  I would have checked with him as soon as I did.

I would have liked a LinkedIn invitation like this:

Hi, Connie,
Do you recruit COOs and CEOs for medical groups and companies doing clinical trials in X?  I’d love to be connected with you if you do.
I have X years managing teams and a record I’m proud of.  Please take a look at my Profile here (link).
Thanks for your time,

Or if he had found me on LinkedIn, he could have invited me directly.

Remember that we are all very busy.  The harder you make it for someone to notice you, the harder you make it to be found. 

What job do you want next? you starting over or just out of school?  Do you want to get away from your major or your last job?  Or are you basically pretty happy with the general field, but need to move to a different company (or your first one)?

If you don’t know what you want to do for a career, then the career tests can be a real help in deciding what direction to go in.  After all, you can’t go in ALL directions, you have to pick one.  You can change later. 

But if you like being a scientist or in business development for therapeutics, or whatever, you still need to decide what you want for your next career step.   Staying in the same position at the same company (and salary) for your whole career just is not happening these days, especially in the biosciences industries.  Even the multinational pharmaceuticals have downsized, right-sized, refocused, spun-out, etc., etc.  And the smaller, more exciting biotechs may or may not grow into big companies. 

Every Job is Temporary

As JT O’Donnell  says, “Because every job is temporary”  you have to plan your own career.  Most jobs in our bioindustry last from 3-5 years.  If you start working in industry at 30 (after you have your PhD, say) and work until Social Security kicks in (now at age 72), you will have 42 years of a career or  8 to 14 different jobs.  You have to be on top of your career planning.  No one else will do it for you.

You don’t have to plan all of those jobs, but it really helps to have a direction in mind.  If, for now, you want to be in the biopharma/medical device/diagnostics/life science industries, then you need to know what you bring to the table and what that group of skills is typically called.  Also you need to know what people with those skills do, learn, produce, invent, etc. 

Once you have your list of skills, expertise and keywords in a spreadsheet in your computer, you can decide which ones you want to use in your next job, which ones you want to develop, and which ones you need to add and want to learn in your next job. 

Pull these out of your spreadsheet and think about what you would call the person who can do these things.  Use that for a working title – It might be “Scientist” or “Manager of QA” or “CEO of a 15 person company”. 

Now go look for that title on LinkedIn or or  Compare the skills you have with the skills someone who has the title you thought would fit demonstrates and the jobs that a posted.  Are you missing any skills?  Can you step the title down a notch?  Or do you have more?  What would be the next step up? 
All companies put different emphasis on different skills in their job descriptions and expectations. 

Now think about what you want to do on a day to day basis.  What do you want to do, learn, produce, invent, etc.? What skills do you own that you want to use?

Have you already done these things?  Or is it a stretch?  Would you hire you with this title? 
Write out a job description for your next job.  And keep notes for the one after that.  Do these jobs lead you to where you want your career to go? 

If you don’t have any particular career ambitions or a long view, what is it that you want to accomplish in your lifetime?  Is this job a step towards or away from that?

“A job, any job” will not usually take you toward your goal, even as it puts food on the table.  And remember that companies don’t hire for your sparkling personality (or your desperation) but because they have a problem they need someone to solve.  What problems do you want to solve?

Only you can answer these questions.  Find a worksheet here. But if you need a hand, a questioner, a person to hold you accountable to yourself, let me know!

Please email your questions or comments today at or sign up for your first free career step consultation if we have not yet spoken.

How Can I Customize My Bioscience Online Job Search

Chasing the Entrepreneurial Dream

www.biosciencejobkit.comLaura Hales, PhD, Guest Blogger

from Biocrowd and The Isis Group

Your thesis defense approaches. “What are you going to do with your life?” they ask. “Get a postdoc position!” you say. Four (OK, maybe five or six) years go by. “What are you going to do with your life?” they ask. “Get a faculty position!” you say. Wait – maybe not. But, if not, then what happens next?

The rigors of a tenure track faculty position at a prestigious university are not for everyone.

I, like many scientists, decided it was not for me either. I really wanted to make the jump from academia to industry, but I wasn’t sure how to do it, especially with a microbiology degree at a time when all the big pharma companies were shutting down their anti-infective groups.  So I applied for every job I could find out of my postdoc. Not only as a researcher at various pharma companies, but also as things like a staff scientist at a non-profit institute, a clinical sample laboratory manager, a scientific writer, and an instructor at a local college. The problem with these other options was convincing them (and myself) that this was the path I was committed to following in my career

And, like many scientists, I got lucky.

I became scientist #5 hired into a brand new cancer immunotherapy group that grew to 35 (see details about my career path here). How does a microbiologist get hired to do oncology research? The answer to that became my first career-building lesson: wherever you go, be sure to gain broadly applicable, transferrable skills. It was a solid molecular biology background that they needed. It didn’t matter if I was manipulating bacterial viruses or humanized antibodies. And I definitely boosted the attractiveness of my CV by choosing a microbiology postdoc where I could learn tissue culture and cell-based assays.

Then suddenly, the honeymoon was over.

I learned my second lesson: always keep your CV updated. I hadn’t looked at the thing in almost five years. What a project it was to try to sift through and remember everything I had done, while feeling the gamut of emotions one feels after being laid off. I got back on my feet, and six months later, landed a position as scientist #2 hired at a venture capital funded startup biotech company. Typical of many startups, we had a solid two-plus year run, then crashed. Lesson number three: it’s not personal, it’s business. In the end, it just doesn’t matter how many long, hard stressful hours you worked, with people who became your family, and the fact that you cancelled your vacation to Paris and abbreviated your maternity leave all in the name of company business.

I regrouped. I applied for what seemed like a bazillion jobs in multiple cities.  Then I realized that I didn’t even want most of those jobs.

What I really wanted was to be my own boss. So I started three companies. Amazed? Don’t be. It’s easy. After unsuccessful attempts to obtain funding from a few different sources for a company called Tracertech, Inc., I started Extend Biosciences, a company with  a drug delivery platform for biologics that I’m currently looking to fund using SBIR grants. In the meantime, I also started The Isis Group, a scientific consulting and communications company. I had always been the one that my fellow labmates went to for assistance writing and editing their manuscripts and grants, and having worked at startups and now being an entrepreneur, I had been asked to consult for a few startups, mainly spinning out of academia. So I signed on some colleagues as consultants, and decided to make the editing and consulting an official business. Which leads me to my final lesson: a career in biotech is like a roller coaster ride – lots of twists and bumps, and may even turn you upside down! But what a great ride it is!

Comments? Questions? Please add them to the BioCrowd Buzz or contact me directly via my profile page!


Want to discuss your Entrepreneurial Dream with me, Connie Hampton? Click here for more information

The difference between a FTE job and a consulting gig is how they pay you, not how you get the chance to solve their problem

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