The Secret, High Power Start for Your Job Search

Before you start your job search

Jump start your job search

Your job search doesn’t need to be long, depressing and unproductive.

The secret to starting a fast, productive job search is to know exactly what you have to offer and how to tell people about it.

Knowing all of your skills and which ones you want to use in your next job will allow you to skip the unproductive parts of a search and move directly to the jobs you want.

Being able to talk about your skills in a concise and interesting way will allow people to know what you do and figure out if they need your skills to solve their problem. Or if they know someone who does.

Don’t be at a loss for words! Work on it ahead of time so you know which nouns and adjectives are the most appropriate.

Don’t expect that everyone can read your mind or knows what it is you do. Be able to tell them without boring them or talking from the 30000 foot view. You want them to see and hear your interest in what you do, but you don’t want to expect them to share your passion for it.

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Do you have a complete list of your skills and expertise?

How to Fail at Job Search

Visible online so hiring managers and recruiters can find you

Do you have a complete list of your skills and expertise?

your skills and keywordsWhat are you good at?  Do you have a list of all your skills?

This is not a résumé, rather it is just a private list, organized or not, of the things that you know you can do.  It can serve you as a way to build a résumé, but even more, it can keep you from getting too down on yourself in the midst of the job search.

Perhaps you might want to keep a stack of 3X5 cards in your pocket or a file on your phone where you just record each skill as it comes to you during your day.

We are all much more talented than we usually give ourselves credit for.

Do you have this list?  Not just in your head but on paper or the computer?

If you have it in a spreadsheet, you can add columns like: “Want to do this in my next job” or “I like this”. Then grade them and sort.  Now you know what skills to look for in job descriptions.

Pick a really strong skill.  How can you use this skill in your job search this week?

20 minute webcast here

Your list of skills and keywords

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Do you have your list of skills and keywords on your computer?

You will need this list of skills and keywords so that writing your resume and online profiles is not difficult.  And you don’t need to start with a blank page!  You can use a template or format. Using a list of your skills and keywords will give you a “leg up”.

You exist in a cloud of words that describes your work life or your home life.  Some of them are overused to the point of having no meaning, like “responsible self-starter”.  Some are so specific that only someone actually doing what you are currently doing would understand. The ones from your home life do not belong on a work document meant to attract the right job.  The ones from your work life are unlikely to attract the right people to go to the concert with.

When you pull together a list of words to use,  you can focus on the right words to attract your perfect job.  So start a list.  You won’t just send it off to random people.  You will use it to select the words suitable for the occasion.  You may have PCR, qPCR or whatever comes next on your list, but you want to uses the one that the company you are applying to uses, or they won’t know what you are talking about.

Is Your LinkedIn Profile a Dud?

Most jobs are filled by personal networking. if you want a recruiter to call you, we have to know that you exist.  Make it easy for us – Fill out your LinkedIn Profile! Recruiters are on LinkedIn every day. Even if you are not now looking for a job, keep your profile current. Since most jobs last only about 5 years these days, having a LinkedIn profile is essential.

keywords for job search

Job and key concept

Recruiters search by keywords.  Some of those are job titles at particular companies.  Some are by industry and title.  Many are by keywords, skills and expertise. 

You need to:

Have a professional head shot – It can be taken by a friend on a cell phone camera, but it needs to be of you, in a professional outfit, hair combed, and a smile on your face.  Think – this is the first impression.  How do you want to be perceived?  First impressions count.

Your headline section does not need to be your current or last title, but it should contain your most descriptive keyword, one that the general public would understand.  Don’t look desperate; don’t use this to say “looking”.  

Your summary is where you can shine, show what you like to do and use those keywords.  Use them naturally, don’t spam by repeating the keyword multiple times in a row.  Remember that you are writing to create a professional impression.

Knowing your keywords can be a challenge, especially if you are staring at a blank screen and trying to capture them out of thin air. Click here for some suggestions

Your experience is proof that you can do the things you have described in your summary.  Use the space.  Use keywords and, if you can, use numbers – for example, “managed 6 people doing (keyword)”.  Avoid passive verbs, use active ones

If you choose to use the Skills and Expertise section (and I encourage you to do so), ask your first degree connections to endorse you for those skills that you want to highlight and which they know that you have – the person that worked at the next bench will know that you can do PCR (or whatever) but a recruiter will only know that you said you could. 

The more you can complete your profile, the more people will know you.  You want a job that suits you, not one that requires you to do only the things you don’t like to do.  Use your LinkedIn Profile to showcase your interests as well as your skills.

If you find yourself polishing your resume before you have identified any open positions, use that effort on your LI Profile instead.  Sending a generic resume to job boards and openings is like making multiple copies, stuffing them in empty bottles and tossing them in the ocean in the hope that someone will rescue you.  We know that recruiters look in LinkedIn, not in the ocean.

Remember that less than 20% of jobs are filled through job postings and less than 5% by recruiters.  You do need to have a web presence on LinkedIn, but even more, you need to use it to grow your personal network and number of friends.

Book a review of your LinkedIn Profile here


Getting BRUTALLY Honest with Yourself

BSJKSkillsListWe all have an enormous number of skills and expertise, but you need to be brutally honest with yourself to know what your bioscience job skills are.

What bioscience job skills, exactly, do you want to do in your next job?

You probably won’t get everything you want, but if you don’t know what you want and whether you can actually do it, you will definitely NOT get what you want.
[Tweet “Wanting “a job, any job” will not get you one. via Biorecruiter”]

Start with a list of what you have done, are good at, like, want to do next. Start at a general or high level and work down to very specific skills. There are no “any” jobs, especially in the bioscience industries.  All jobs are specific and all employees are hired to solve a particular problem.

What problems have you solved?

Even if you are just graduating, you have solved problems and know some of the problems you never want to see again.  You know what you feel comfortable doing and which programs, machines and processes you know how to use.  And which ones you want to learn next.

People who have been in the bioscience industries for a bit will have a longer list and many more skills that they don’t want to use in the next job.

Most people think that this list is their resume.  They are the foundation of each resume, but even more they are your keywords and phrases.  You will find them in your old resumes, your performance reviews, your daily tasks. You will use them in your online profiles, your “elevator speech”, your headlines and signatures as well as the tailored resumes you will write for each job application.

These are the basis of your “personal brand”, what we used to call your reputation.

Your list of keywords is your private document.  Don’t put it out in public.  It is your “foundation garment” and you will use it to build your career.

Has Opportunity Knocked?

Here is a bundle of template, podcast and instructions



Why do I need a spreadsheet of my skills?

tree under the overpass

Do you know what skills you have for your next job?



  1. Experts frequently assume that “everybody” can do what they do.  This is not true and thinking so can make you undervalue yourself. 
  2. You have a huge list of skills.  Some of them you “own”, some you are so-so in, some you need to learn and some you never want to do again.  You all can probably clean a refrigerator and I’m sure that you don’t want to have a job where that is one of your primary responsibilities.   So sort this list into those you want to use in your career and those that you don’t.  Golf, while it can be useful in certain businesses, really does not belong in the top ten skills you want to be paid for in the BioSciences. The ability to use MS Excel is not a top skill for a VP of Development even if you use it every day.  Prioritize the list!
  3. Putting your amazing skills on the wall by your usual job search seat will allow you to remember your brilliance. 
  4. You won’t bother to apply for a job that requires only skills you need to learn or never want to do again.  You can reduce the size of the dragon of job search by focusing on only those jobs that you are at least 85% qualified for. 
  5. When you write or update your LinkedIn Profile, you will need these words to attract the right recruiters and to prove your understanding of the industry you want to work in.
  6. It will help you focus your job search.  If you want to move into a different niche in the industry, you can emphasize those skills that will fit best into that niche and underplay others.

Do you have a written list?  A spreadsheet?

Did you do a “skills assessment”?  Did it include all your skills? All the skills you used in your last job?  All the skills you want to use in your next one?  This is your job search and your career – take charge!

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How to find a job

What is the best way to find a job?

You know the answer – networking.  Another way to look at it is that finding a job is a sales and marketing job.  If you have never had a sales job, and even if you have had, it can be difficult to look at your career as a product to be sold.  We all become 17 again – certain that there are a million of us wanting the same job with exactly the same set of (minimal) skills.  But no, you are unique – your skills and experiences are uniquely your own and the job is to find the company that needs exactly those skills.  So this becomes a treasure hunt.  And you need to ask for help.

Networking is when you give something that doesn’t cost you too much to someone who values it and he/she does the same.  Each networking session is one where you need to give, not beg.  And you need to give enough (the rule of thumb is 4 times before you ask for something) that the person you are interacting with wants to give you something in return.

“A job, any job” is NOT a career step

Horse and Rider

Image by cliff1066™ via Flickr

“Any job” won’t do it. Are you in the hardest part of being unemployed and looking for work: feeling, fueled by fear, “I need a job, any job!”  If you are over 18 and have held jobs and/or started down a career path in the past, “just any job” won’t work.  Looking for “any job” is like getting up on your horse and riding off in ALL directions.  It can’t be done.


Seth Grodin, in his book, We Are All Weird, says that being rich is having choices.  So, even unemployed or about to be laid off, we are rich.  We have choices.  What we don’t have is a clear choice.  Panic can set in and sling you right back to high school or just out of college when there really were millions of people with the same (minimal) skill set.  Find your way out of panic – it is a real time waster.

Sit down and write out (don’t just keep it in your head) all of your skills.  And I mean all!  Right down to tying your shoes.  Then highlight the ones you would like to get paid for and have a reasonable expectation that someone would do so. (Tying shoes really is a skill for pre-school teachers – teaching it is a better one.) Get your skills organized!

Remember that you are not a generic person – you have skills and experiences that no one else does.

Companies, in this time of tight money and fear on an even larger scale than one person, don’t hire unless they have to.  Only when they have a problem or opportunity that no one they now employ can handle do they even begin to consider hiring.  Not even your mother will hire you because you need a job.

Who do you want to work for?

So take another look at that list of skills and figure out what kind of company would have a problem only you can solve!  What industry?  What market niche?  Only you can decide what your next career step should be.  Working toward it goes a long way toward lessening panic.

Who actually has the job?

Industries, Niches, Companies and Colleagues