Failing to prepare…

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

Ok so that sounds frightening, but in my opinion, Ben was on the right track with that one. Even if things don’t always go as planned, having a plan in place keeps me grounded and motivated. I am a big believer in planning ahead– one of many reasons why me and Ben Franklin are very alike and if he was alive right now I am confident we would be great friends.

This morning I had the pleasure of attending the Career Center Workshop on selling yourself to the life sciences industry. When I read the title of this session I was not a fan of the idea of “selling” myself, but in the interest of getting some career advice, I elected to attend. I am so glad I did!! This session was run by Joe Tringali (who totally rules by the way) and was an hour full of helpful tips and tricks. Joe’s prepared material for this session was fantastic, and he also did a great job of engaging attendees of the session and making sure everyone’s questions were addressed. So without further ado, here are my take-away points from this Workshop!

  1. Know the difference between a resume and a CV— and when using each of these is appropriate!!  Joe emphasized that CV’s are best when talking to scientists, but for a lot of large companies, HR reps will be reviewing applications so a resume may be a better choice. Also, resumes should be concise and should very obviously highlight which techniques and skills you possess, plainly identifying what qualifies you for the position you’ve applied for.
  2. Target your message! Do not be ambiguous when it comes to your cover letter. Employers should not look at your application and think that you are tossing in a resume with their company just for the heck of it. Indicate that you have done your homework and are interested in the position for X reasons, you love the city of Y, and you have Z qualifications, therefore are a great fit.
  3. Reach out using non-traditional methods if the traditional job search is not going well. If you’ve applied to 100 jobs via Indeed and Monster, and no one is answering you, try a different strategy!! If you can identify someone within the company you are interested in using LinkedIn, and you know you are qualified to join their group, try sending out them a short email with your CV/Resume attached, and asking if they may be able to circulate it for you. Worst case scenario, you are back where you started (jobless with no prospects). Best case scenario, maybe they have an opening! Or if they don’t, maybe they know of an opening you would be a good fit for! Bottom line is that networking is important, and dropping someone a line is rarely a bad idea so long as you are being respectful and not creepy…. Emphasis on the not creepy part.
  4. Make sure you and your references are on the same page. Okay so this was something I did not know going in– Joe says that checking references for industry jobs is generally kind of an afterthought. But nevertheless, it is important that anyone you have listed as a reference is actually going to talk you up. If you have a boss/PI that doesn’t want you to leave the company/lab, it’s still okay to use them as a reference, but make sure the interviewer knows the situation. Your best bet is to list references you know will say you are totally fabulous. It is important to prepare them for incoming calls, so they don’t say “ah yes Sally has always wanted to live in Tokyo” when the interviewer is calling about a job you’ve applied for in Boise, Idaho.
  5. Don’t talk about money right off the bat. Joe says that employees will be payed an appropriate, fair wage based on their qualifications, the wages of their colleagues, the cost of living in the city they’ll be in, and whether they look like Angelina Jolie. I made that last one up- he did not say you need to look like Angie, but the rest of that is true. So don’t stress about the dollar bills! It will more than likely put employers off if you start trying to push them into giving you loads of money before you’ve even finished the interview process.

Thank you to Joe Tringali for the great workshop this morning, much appreciated!! Also Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you blog readers!! I’ve got my ion you ❤


Ellen Avery


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