A few months ago I participated in the Webinar given by Randall Ribaudo here at Bio Careers. It was jam packed with information and ideas which I found very interesting. One of my fellow participants was one of the career development coordinators also from my research institute and was so impressed she asked him to come across the country to speak to us. When I discovered this I was overjoyed, even more so when I was asked to provide him potential jobs I would be interested in, and my resume so I could be used as an example. I will attempt to distil some of his points into this blog, but if you are interested check out his own Bio Careers blog (http://biocareers.com/bio-careers-blog?title=&tid=All&uid=Randall+K.+Ribaudo ), his webinar , or his company website (http://www.sciphd.com/) for more information.
As we have heard time and time again, the majority of today’s postdocs will not become academics and the alternative career path is actually the predominant path. We therefore need to be prepared for what the potential career paths are and who the employers could be.
The key roles Randy highlights are: senior scientist/engineer; applications specialist; group leader; project/program manager; technical support specialist; quality assurance and control testing; business development; technical writer; business research analyst; corporate communications; patent review; and finally regulatory affairs. If you are like me, I looked at the list and was bewildered. I had no idea what most of these jobs involved so would not know if I was interested in or could do them. This is where Randy can really help. Randy’s group have developed a training course and self assessment which will help you see your strengths and weaknesses. If you have zero leadership skills there is no point in applying for a high powered leadership position in a large pharmaceutical company.
This assessment breaks your core business competencies into 6 categories: Creating the vision, Developing People, Execution, Achieving Results, Communications, and Financial acumen. The good thing about the assessment is it identifies gaps where you have room for improvement. This will enable you to plan long term goals to improve in these areas while allowing you to apply for positions you are currently suitable for. I had never taken a test like this before and, although I floundered while doing it, I saw the benefits once I saw the results. Also, having gone through my results personally with Randy, I could see how I could really use it to screen potential jobs and tailor my application.
Once he had worked on my resume I also saw a difference. Each resume and cover letter needs to be tailored for each position. I also realized that all postdocs are reasonably similar, so I need to separate myself from the masses with my applications. He reminded everyone that networking shouldn’t be optional. Most industry job applications begin with a computer screening applications; if you network successfully you may be able to ensure your application joins the pile after this initial screening process.
His final advice was to have a strategy while applying. Only apply for jobs that excite you and don’t take prerequisites too literally (if you can already do everything mentioned there is no room for personal development). Your first job is only your beginning in industry so view it as such and get your foot in the door.
I may have already heard some of his advice before but he delivered the message so well I have now heard it loud and clear. Considering how successful his career has been I feel honored to have received personal advice from a bone fide “career guru”. I cannot emphasize enough how beneficial his seminar was to everyone at my institution, weeks later I am still hearing praise for him. Seriously, do yourself a favor and get on the Randy train before there are no more seats left!