Getting a research position can provide valuable experience, new connections, and looks great on your resume, but finding the perfect position can be tough. There are many different jobs available, but it is also competitive which can quickly become overwhelming. Today we have several tips to help you identify positions that are right for you and then make sure you are hired.
Update your resume
Make sure all information is accurate and that you have added your most recent job experiences. Take time to carefully review your entire resume for any spelling and grammar mistakes which can immediately scare away a potential employer. See if a friend or family member can also give your document a final check. If you think your resume needs a bit of TLC, visit the career center at your university. Often, free resume workshops are also offered to alumni if you have already graduated. The more eyes that read and give feedback on your resume, the better!
Network, network, network
In the competitive market for jobs a personal connection can be invaluable. Before you are even actively looking for a job, start networking. Use LinkedIn, make sure professors will remember you, volunteer at department events and attend networking events in your city. All of the relationships you build will be very helpful when it is time to head onto the job market.
Create a list of priorities
Now that you are prepared to go after the job you want, you have to begin to decide what positions are right for you. All jobs have pros and cons and it can be helpful to take time to create a list of your biggest priorities before you have offers to consider. When creating this list, think of things like the tasks, management style, compensation, hours, location, potential for growth, anything that will impact your decision to take a job. You may want to also divide the list into three categories, one for things that are non-negotiable, one for things you are willing to make some sacrifices for, and one for things that would be great, but are not a deal breaker.
#If you’re in college, use your school’s resources
In addition to resume help, your school’s career center can also aid you in finding a position by connecting you to job boards, conducting mock interviews, and doing skills assessments. These services are free and can give you a leg up in getting that perfect job. In addition, if your school has an office of academic research, this can be another great place to get additional help and services.
If you are looking for a position for the following semester, aim to have all of your materials ready to begin applying during the middle of the previous semester. Since many positions are filled on a semester to semester basis this is one case in which the early bird often does really get the worm. In addition, starting early will give you the opportunity to explore more roles. For example, if you attend an interview for what you thought was your dream job and realize it is not all it was cracked up to be, you still have plenty of time to look for other positions.
Prepare for interviews
Once your resume has made a positive first impression, it is time to seal the deal in the interview. Prepare by practicing some of the classic interview questions with a friend and learn as much as you can about the lab and the position. Make sure you also dress to impress, know your way to the location, and arrive on time for your meeting. A common mistake is arriving too early for an interview which can be just as bad as arriving late. Arriving ten minutes before your scheduled meeting is ideal.
The PI will be able to quickly determine who has applied for a job because they need a resume boost and who is genuinely interested in the subject matter and work. A true passion for the job can lift one candidate over others who may even have more experience. Of course, you can’t artificially develop passion, but you can focus on applying for jobs in your area of interest and make sure that your commitment shines through in the interview.
Be persistent, but not overbearing
After you have applied for a position, if you have not heard back after a few weeks it is ok to follow-up with an email or to drop by the professor’s office hours, just don’t go overboard. After an interview, be sure to follow-up with a thank you note or letter which will help you to stand out against other candidates.
Don’t get discouraged
You may not get the first job, or even first 10 jobs you apply for, but do not let this cause you to give up. With persistence you will find a great position that is a good fit for you and the organization. If you do not get a job you interviewed for, you may have the opportunity to hear why. In this instance, do not become defensive, and instead use this as a learning experience for next time.
With these tips along with your existing knowledge and experience you are sure to find a position that’s right for you! Do you have another tip that was helpful in your job search? Share it with us on Twitter, @Conserisapp. Happy job hunting!
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