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Sam Gilchrist

Sam Gilchrist, Ph.D., is a new graduate currently working as a medical and scientific liaison in the pharmaceutical industry.

Today’s new and upcoming graduates face a very different reality in finding a career path. Getting hired by submitting your curriculum vitae or résumé to any job that catches your eye, through any one of the exhaustive list of job sites, is as predictable as winning the lottery. Far more work and preparation is required to put oneself in a strategic position in the hiring process. This is a list of the top three tips that I learned while searching for a position. I hope that some of the strategies and resources I used can help others with their career search strategy:

Tip 1: Your résumé stinks. Search out a career advisor and/or mentor.

It’s plain and simple: your résumé needs work. It’s okay. Mine did too. It was cluttered with sloppy formatting, strange fonts, too much technical language, and absolutely no effort to quantify any qualifications. I sat down on a number of occasions with a career advisor through my university’s career services. Each visit covered various wordings, meanings, toning down of scientific jargon, and above all, providing context to my achievements. In addition, I sought council from various professionals who were in a career position similar to what I wanted. I can assure you that my résumé is far better now than this time last year. And I thought it was good last year.

Tip 2: Getting a hiring manager to notice you is a waste of time. Figure out what you want to do and talk to people who are already doing it.

This strategy flies in the face of the conventional wisdom of getting to know the person who is doing the hiring. The lesson I learned from getting my résumé onto the desks of hiring managers is this: They don’t have time to deal with your résumé. My approach, then, was to get to know individuals in my area who were doing the job I wanted. This accomplishes two things: 1) It shows you’re passionate about the role, and 2) These individuals are likely to pass along your name to a recruiter. Get a few recommendations, and you will surely be receiving a call from a recruiter. Make a good next impression, and you’ll be presented to a hiring manager with some clout. Pretty good, for not having any real world experience.

Tip 3: The interview process is tough. Prepare very well.

No surprise, interview questions are tough. Two simple resources that helped me prepare for questions and responses are these two books: Knock ‘em Dead, by Martin Yate and Landing the Job You Want: How to Have the Best Job Interview of Your Life, by William C. Byham. Both are cheap and both are helpful to get your mind prepared for human resources-style questioning.

I hope these three tips, which helped greatly in my search, will add a few more strategies/resources to your repertoire and assist in your search for a career.

What tips have you found effective in your job search?