Ruchi Masand: Navigating the rough seas of the job market

The PhD/Postdoc blog series features scientists at different stages of career development as they explore and plan for their next steps. Over the course of six months, Edward van Opstal, Ruchi Masand, Corina White, and Darcie Cook will give monthly updates on their progress. Check back every Wednesday for new blog posts!

Current position: Postdoctoral Fellow studying obesity and fat metabolism at the Cardiovascular Research Institute; Chief Technology Officer for My Resolve Health, a bay area start-up.

Program start date: September 2015

Institution: University of California, San Francisco

Hi folks!

Our wonderful journey together comes to an end today and I hope that it’s been a helpful one for all of you. Last month when I mentioned the MIND workshop on applying for non-academic positions, I didn’t get to the actual job applications. So, in my final post today I’d like to pick up where I left off with tailoring resumes and talk jobs!

Like Darcie talked about last month, online job application portals indeed seem like black holes. You hit submit and your application disappears, never to be heard about again! And the most frustrating part is that I have yet to meet a person who hasn’t had the same experience at some point or another. Now, almost every job opening these days is posted online and invariably by the time I see it, there are already multiple applicants ahead of me! It’s absolutely true! Whether the posting is a week old, a day old or even just a few hours old, there are always people ahead of you! So then logically, the only way to get ahead of the competition is to find positions before they are posted. I know that doesn’t sound right; but think about it. Once it’s out there, it’s open to everyone. However, if you can somehow know that a position is about to open up, you can use that extra time to your advantage.

How you ask? Well, the answer is the same as always – through your network. Networking is literally the lifeblood of the job market and there really is no getting away from it. Your network is the only way to uncover openings in the making. Which is why it is absolutely essential to establish a network in the field you are interested in. So, when you are actively on the lookout for a new position, it is then just a simple matter of identifying the right people in your network and letting them know that you are on the lookout. Even if they aren’t aware of any upcoming or open positions, they can point you in the right direction and tell you where to look.

While it’s smooth sailing if you can uncover a hidden position, they are quite rare. So then, what if you can’t find one? Well, in that case there is always the option to browse through job openings where you already have a contact. In these cases, you can ask your contact to move your resume to the top of the pile. Some job postings receive hundreds of resumes and in such cases this may be the only way to get your resume past HR. This strategy has actually worked for me. I applied first through the online portal and then also sent a copy of my application to my contact. They then directed it internally to the hiring scientist. Sometimes however people are reluctant to actually forward your application themselves. Even in these cases, you can actually get very useful advice on tailoring your application to the specific position.

So, finally for the last time I again encourage all of you to be open to possibilities and to step out of your comfort zones and network. Ultimately it’s all about people and connections. Speaking of which, sharing my career exploration and transition experiences through this blog over the past few months has been a true pleasure. I hope it has been at least somewhat useful to you, the readers. I wish you fair winds and following seas as you forge your own unique path and add to the mosaic of our shared experiences.

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