Do You Know Your Industry and Where Your Next Job Might Be?

What industry are you in or want to be in?
How well do you know it?

Knowledge workers like bioscience professionals are expected to know their industry, what is going on in it and who the main “players” are. 

Do you know how to decide?  Where to look? Who at each company to talk with for more info?


I talk about this in more detail on the 2nd Wednesday each month at my free, open office hours.  Click here to join us!

Networking at Holiday Parties

Networking at holiday parties

Image by leyla.a via Flickr

The Holidays are upon us!  Should you be networking at holiday parties?

We are all busy both giving and going to parties, shopping, wrapping, reconnecting with people we have not connected with since last year.  Is now the time to do some job search networking at holiday parties?

Of course!  This is a great time to extend your network to include all those people you have not seen for a year, only meet at your friend’s annual party, etc.

But how?

Of course you need a plan.

If you have followed this blog for any time at all, you know that you need to know what you want.  The next step is to find out who works at the companies you would like to be employed by and if that company should stay on your top ten list.  And parties are a great place to work on that!

Where are you in your job search?

Networking is…

Networking is where you give something that does not cost you much. Give your attention and focus and interest over drinks at your friend’s party to get what you value – insight into a company that you are interested in.

So step up to that new person and find out where they work and what they do.  Give them the gift of actually being interested.

If they work at one of the companies you have already determined to be of interest to you, get their take on how the company is doing, what the company is doing, what they think will happen next for that company.

Ask about their job, what they like, what they don’t like.  When they ask you why you are asking (if they do!), tell them that you think that company has a very interesting (whatever you have discovered in your earlier research into that company) and that you are excited to know more.

What is targeted networking?

But what if they don’t even work in my industry?

If the person you are talking with does not work at one of the companies you are interested in, then you should still give them the gift of your attention.  Ask if they know anyone who works at one or two of the companies you are interested in.  Ask them what they know about the company.  Have a conversation!! Make a friend!! Trade business cards, if that will work, but even more important is to take some notes when you are finished talking. Follow-up with an email later, thanking them for taking the time to talk with you!

Add them to your network!  Send them a Holiday card!

What are you doing over the Holidays?

Need some help with this? Schedule a coaching session here.

Should Your Job Search Include Smaller Companies?

small companiesby guest blogger, Mike Van Horn

A while back, I wrote an article on how smaller companies can compete for top talent with large corporations. Let me turn that around, and tell job seekers why you should consider looking at smaller companies. (I advise owner-run firms from 5 to 100 employees.)

— Shorter commute.

One 50-person client just hired a COO for $120k who’d received a $150k offer from a corporation in the city. He opted for a local 10-minute bike commute over the hour+ daily grind each way. He figured the extra two hours a day added to his life was worth $30 grand a year.

— More opportunity.

Another client hired a GM away from a much larger competitor. The guy saw that he’d reached the top where he was, and in the new job, he’d get to lead a major growth push. Big fish in a smaller pond.

— Less travel.

Many professionals in their 40s and 50s switch to smaller, local firms because they’re tired of constant travel they’ve had in their corporate jobs.

— Flexibility.

“Yes, we can bend your schedule around your kids’ soccer games.”

— More diverse opportunity.

You may get to take on a much greater variety of projects and responsibilities.

— Work directly with the principals.

Small companies may be headed by much more innovative and leading-edge people, and it’s a great opportunity to work with them.

— Less corporate bureaucracy and politics.

— Un-retired.

Here’s a big growing trend: Senior people retire from the corporation, then go to work for smaller companies. They trade less money for lower stress and flexible hours. The oldest guy working with us is in his mid 70s.

— Less risk of your job being off-shored.

Many small businesses market their personal contact and personal touch, and their customers prefer that. Personal contact cannot be off-shored.

— It’s a real job, not a contract job,

which seems to be the fate of many corporate job seekers these days.

There are a few downsides:

— Small companies may not offer as juicy a benefits package. However, don’t take this for granted these days!  Especially if your alternative is a corporate contract job.

— Some long-time corporate employees aren’t cut out for the small business environment. They may be accustomed to narrower duties, superiors telling them what to do (thus uncomfortable taking initiative), having a lot of support staff (thus not resourceful at getting things done). But by far the worst quality is exhibiting “employee mentality” rather than the “entrepreneur mentality” needed in a small, dynamic firm. And I’m talking about top-level managers! You must look at yourself to make sure you could be comfortable in a small business culture.


Mike Van Horn’s company, The Business Group, leads peer advisory groups for owners of growing businesses.


Want to discuss your job search? Click here

Which are the top ten companies for your job search?

the top ten companies for your job searchWhen I go to networking meetings and talk with someone about their job search, I ask them to tell me the top 10 companies that they would prefer to work for.  Most people can’t name three, give me only the names of the largest, most visible, ones or tell me that they will take any job.

You can’t network with every one, or even all the people in your industry in your region.  Even if you could, you would have to start somewhere.  Going to random meetings, putting your resume in a little boat on the ocean, or replying to every job opening with a generic resume is simply a waste of your time and hope. 

Take a good look at your industry.  Here in the SF Bay Area there are many, many bioscience companies.  Some are in tools or life science, some in diagnostics, both clinical and molecular, some are in therapeutics, both large and small molecule, some in medical devices, both implantable and not.  Which ones are likely to need your skills?  An oncology researcher is unlikely to be of interest to a life science tools company, but may find a place in diagnostics or therapeutics.  A biophysicist might be more interested in building tools than in taking data.  But only you can decide where you would be happiest. If you don’t know yet, you still need to pick a direction. 

No company has your best interest or your career path in mind for you.  None will hire you because you need a job.  You are the only one to choose a career path for your own best interest. 

Once you decide on an industry, what are the names of the companies in your industry and in your commute distance?  Do your homework!    What is their URL? What is their street address? What is the main phone number?  What, exactly do they do?  Why are you interested in them (you will be asked this one!)?  What are the details of their product development?  Who is on the management team?

Of the 10 to 50 companies that you have researched, which ten do you like the most? 

Looking for work – Prep 2

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take the “ideal next job” description that you wrote and look for the companies in your chosen geography, industry, etc. that would employ or do employ such a person.

Make a list in a spreadsheet with phone number, address, website  and rank it.

Which are your top ten?  Why?  Write that in your spreadsheet.

Click here for a sample:  My Companies Spreadsheet

This is actually a time-consuming task, but it will be most useful.  Check each website and see what the company is doing.  Read their press releases.  This is your industry and you already know quite a bit, but brush up.

Then decide which ones look best to you.

Have at least 20 companies on this list.  You may never get to #20 but you may need to promote some companies and demote others.

1000 applicants for 1 Job: 5 Tips to Getting Short-Listed

Have you been short-listed?

Have you seen Ira Wolfe’s blog How many job applicants does it take to find one qualified candidate?

Ira says, “The “war for talent” is heating up even in the midst of high unemployment. According to an article last week in the Wall Street Journal, it takes many more than most employers think (or at least want to accept.) I repeat – a lot more.  The actual numbers are numbing.

For example, an infographic presented in the article revealed that it takes approximately 1,000 online views by candidates to get 100 candidates to complete the application.  Out of that, 25 applications are selected for review, then 4 to 6 candidates are recommended for an interview. When all is said and done, companies may find their one diamond in the rough only after 1,000 candidates view the job posting.  If those numbers hold up, it is clear that the impending war for talent is no longer imminent or pending. It’s here today.”

So how can you get short-listed?

1.  Don’t apply to positions you are not qualified for.  The HR team is not in the business of figuring out where in their organization you might fit.  The hiring manager wants them to deliver just the right person with the right skills.

2.  Do identify the companies that do use your skills, do use people with your background and do exist within your reasonable commute distance.

3.  Do apply to their open position, IF and only if, they are looking for you. 

4.  Find out if any of the people in your current network of friends and acquaintances already work there and get them to introduce you to one of the people in the department you want to work in.

5.  Add this new person to your network and keep in touch.  Get the inside scoop.  Present yourself as the solution to the department’s problem.

No company hires you because you need a job.  Companies only hire when they have a problem or opportunity that can’t be solved or explored by the people they are already paying.

Your turn – what do you think?

Have a question?  Join us for Open Office Hours

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