Propel Careers

Propel Careers

Harnessing Passion. Cultivating Leaders.



How to Give a Great Research Presentation

By Andrea Brear, Ph.D., Intern, Propel Careers

How many times have you sat through a research presentation either nodding off or squinting at an image on the screen? Giving an effective and engaging research presentation requires proper preparation and practice. Realizing that you are the expert on your own research will help you achieve the goal of marketing yourself and your work to convince your audience of the importance of your research and why it is exciting.

In its simplest form, the presentation can be broken down into three parts: introduction, results, and conclusion. The content and extent of the introduction requires that you know the composition of your audience. If there are a number of scientists outside your specific field, you need include more background on your topic in order to bring everyone to the same page. This is your chance to illustrate what is known and unknown in the field and why it matters, and how your work advances the field. Finally, you must clearly state the question you will be addressing throughout the presentation. In the results section, you will be answering the question you are asking. It is important to introduce the technical features of the model organism or system that you are using while explaining your data. The conclusions should reiterate the key results you have found and why they are important in order to leave the audience members with a concise and interesting take home message.

The one word that comes to mind when thinking of the slides themselves is beautification. In order for the person sitting in the back row to easily visualize what is on the screen, use a color scheme with high contrast and make pictures such as figures, graphs, tables, and images as large as the space allows. Because the projector does not necessarily display images as your computer screen will and the lighting in the room may be poor, it's best to prescreen your slides to make sure the images are at optimal brightness and contrast. Using a crisp white background is one way to insure that your slides will be visible. Avoid overwhelming your audience with too much information or boring them with too much text on the slides. When composing slides – try to stick to the "keep it simple" rule. A short concise title, which should be a statement, not a question, as little text as possible, and a nice diagram or two (no more than three) per slide is a great place to start.

The delivery of the presentation itself requires not only the proper pace but also taking the time to set up transitions between the slides so that the wording flows nicely and sounds like a scientific story. One minute per slide is a good amount of time to allow you to maintain an engaging pace. Practicing the presentation will help you identify any transitions that need to be smoothened as well as determine if the talk is too long or short for the amount of time you are given. In order to make the presentation accessible to the general audience, it is important to not only to practice with yourself but also with colleagues in your field as well as outside your field. Be sure to project your voice and speak clearly while noting the speed at which you are talking. If you have the opportunity to record yourself, this can be a great way to identify ways to improve your delivery – including reducing unnecessary hand/body movements, identifying other tics, or excessive use of "um", "ah" or similar words.

Lastly, be aware that you are not able to anticipate everything. The projector may not work properly, someone's cell phone may ring, or the fire alarm may go off. A well-prepared presentation will allow you to deliver the talk with ease and deal with any unanticipated issues.

Oct 14 2014: FILS event - Reimbursement, Pharmacoeconomics, Patient Advocacy, Market Access Careers

On Tuesday October 14th, 2014 from 5:30-8:00pm, we will hold the 7th event of the 2014 Futures in Life Science (FILS) series. This event will focus on life sciences career paths in Reimbursement, Pharmacoeconomics, Patient Advocacy, and Market Access for individuals with graduate degrees. Panel members include Kathy Gram, Director Patient Advocacy, Millennium; Claus Becker, Head of Value and Access group, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals; Samuel Murphy, Vice President, IMS Health Capital, Inc., Senior Principal, IMS Consulting Group, Pricing and Market Access; Mohan Bala, Vice President, Health Economics Outcomes Research, Sanofi. Lauren Celano, MBA, CEO of Propel Careers will moderate the panel.

During this event, the panel members will share insight on the industry and their career paths and they will provide tips for individuals looking to develop their careers in their area. We have a wonderful panel assembled. This event will be held at the MassBio Offices, 300 Tech Square, 8th Floor, and Cambridge, MA from 5:30-8:00pm. To register for this event, click here: http://fils72014.eventfizz.com/

Meeting Agenda: 5:30pm-6:00pm: Registration and Open Networking; 6:00pm-6:10pm: Introductions and Overview; 6:10pm-7:30pm: Panel Discussion, 7:30pm-8:00pm: Open Networking.

Full FILS 2014 Series Event Schedule

January 21st, 2014 - Overview of Life Sciences Career Paths.

February 18th, 2014 - Consulting Career Paths in the Life Science Industry.

March 18th, 2014 - Commercialization 1 (Marketing, Product Management, Business Development) Career Paths.

April 15th, 2014 - Research and Development Career Paths in Life Sciences.

May 13th, 2014 - Clinical Development, Regulatory, and Medical Affairs Career Paths.

September 16th, 2014 - Bio-Informatics, Modeling and Systems Biology Career Paths.

October 14th, 2014 - Commercialization 2 (Reimbursement, Pharmacoeconomics, Patient Advocacy, and Market Access) Career Paths. To register, Click Here: http://fils72014.eventfizz.com/

November 18th, 2014 - Finance, Legal, Operations Career Paths in Life Sciences. To register, Click Here: http://fils82014.eventfizz.com/

About the Series

The FILS Event Series is open to current graduate student (MBA, MPH, JD, Eng, Ph.D., MD etc,), postdoctoral fellow, or medical resident, interested in learning about the variety of career paths in the industry. Together, Propel Careers, MassBio, and MassBioEd are committed to fostering the next generation of industry leaders in the life sciences. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Futures in Life Science (FILS) Seminar Series is a year-long event series, created in 2011 by Propel Careers, MassBio, and the MassBioEd, to promote the variety of career paths ranging from research and development to marketing and commercialization that exist in the Massachusetts Life Science Industry for individuals with graduate degrees. We believe that the career paths that exist in the Massachusetts Life Science Industry are numerous, exciting, and rewarding and that it is imperative that students considering these careers be well informed regarding the areas that their education and training are relevant.

The year-long program provides in-depth overviews of specific careers in the life science industry that often require advanced degrees. We have focused on covering the various functional areas in the life sciences sector including, R&D, consulting, product management, business development, marketing, clinical, regulatory, medical affairs, bioinformatics, systems biology, modeling, pharmacoeconomics, reimbursement, patient advocacy, market access, finance, legal, and operations. Most graduate students and post-docs are well prepared to take numerous directions in their careers, and it is our intent to provide a comprehensive understanding of the aptitudes and work environments that are associated with specific career paths, so that the individuals who attend these events can make more informed career decisions. We are also big believers in the power of connections and networking, so each seminar will have specific time set aside to meet the presenters and the attendees and to develop relationships that will be an asset to those in attendance.

The program has an average attendance of 80 individuals per event. Each event has a panel discussion comprised of industry leaders who provide an overview of the life sciences landscape and various career opportunities, which exist in the industry. The individual seminars are scheduled to accommodate the academic school year with a focus on the technical or scientific expertise that is relevant to each area and the typical work environment associated with common roles.

For more details on the series, visit the Propel Careers Website, click here: http://www.propelcareers.com/index.cfm/events/futures-in-life-science-series/

How to Get the Most Out of an Academic Conference If You Are Looking to Transition Into Industry

By Andrea Brear, Ph.D., Intern, Propel Careers

After years at the bench, you are ready to present your research at a conference. In addition, after careful consideration you have decided that you would like to transition from academia to industry. There are many opportunities available at a research conference that can facilitate this transition. Knowing what these are and taking full advantage of them will make your desired career change that much more attainable.

One purpose of attending an academic conference is to showcase your work, and to receive feedback and insight from others. In order to attract the most attention, and thus increase your chances of getting noticed by attendees from industry, it is important to highlight any disease relevance or therapeutic aspects of your work.

It is equally important to learn more about scientific research from pharmaceutical or biotech companies that you are interested in. Depending on the size of the conference, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the rows of posters and scheduled talks. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, it is best to plan your days ahead of time. Prior to starting, many conferences provide information online pertaining to posters or talks with their respective times and locations. Develop a strategy where you can pinpoint which pharmaceutical or biotech companies are giving posters or talks most appealing to you. Map out a rough schedule in advance to maximize your time and ensure that you attend the posters and talks that you are most interested in.

Many academic conferences now offer a number of professional development seminars that are very useful for advancing your career. These can include workshops on cover letter, resume, and interview preparation, panels on alternative careers in science, and insights for finding a fulfilling position in a pharmaceutical or biotech company. These seminars are often posted online in advance so you can find which are most relevant to your current standing and pencil them into your conference schedule.

Exhibitors are often present at a conference promoting the latest instruments, products, and services. With the purpose of attracting potential customers, they provide hands on demonstrations and interactive presentations. Prior to the start of the conference, identify the vendors that are most relevant and /or of interest to you. Talking with the vendors allows you to gain valuable information about their positions, the company, and general information about current trends in industry. As an added bonus, this is also a great way to stay abreast of the latest technological advances in your scientific niche.

Attending a conference is one of the best ways to maintain and build your professional network. Poster sessions, kickoff events, coffee breaks, happy hours, and exhibitor booths all provide ample networking opportunities. Here, you can reconnect with former advisors and colleagues or create new connections with employees of pharmaceutical or biotech companies. Taking the time to foster these relationships is crucial for career advancement and potential collaborations and will prove useful for future endeavors of any kind.

On a final note, remember to have fun and enjoy the conference. While it's a good idea to take advantage of all these opportunities, try not to overdue it. Leave some down time to experience the city you are visiting whether it is exploring cultural landmarks, tasting the local cuisine, or just relaxing.

How to Tell Your Advisor…. “I’m Leaving Academia”

Blog written by Jena Pitman-Leung, Ph.D., Career Development Consultant, Propel Careers

Many people enter into a Ph.D. program or postdoctoral fellowship with the plan that they will be in academia forever. But for about 70% of trainees, this plan changes along the way. Sometimes it happens slowly, over a long period of time, and sometimes it happens quickly. In either case, usually their Ph.D. or postdoc advisor is the last person to find out. Despite the changing culture, many PI's simply do not want their trainees to leave academia.

One of the questions that I've been frequently asked since joining Propel Careers is, "How do I tell my advisor I'm leaving academia?" For many people, including myself, the anticipation of this conversation is worse than any other conversation with your advisor, especially if this is the first hint that they'll have that you don't plan on pursuing a career in academia.

I wish I could remember how I told my post-doc advisor, but I was too flustered to remember the details. I do however remember the outcome – thankfully, understanding and support. I've had a number of years to look back on this experience, and to talk to others who've gone through it, and have identified a few tactics that have worked for others. In the end, you hopefully know your advisor well, and have an idea of how they will react to the news, so choose the tactic(s) that fit their personality and mentoring style.

1. Give them notice

When you have decided to leave academia, try to give your advisor enough notice to make them feel comfortable. Most graduating Ph.D.'s begin to start looking for a postdoc position about a year before graduating, so this would be a good time to tell them you plan to look for a "real job" as well.

2. Have a research plan in place

When you decide to tell your advisor, present them with an exit plan. To ease their worries of you leaving them with unfinished experiments, create a list of experiments left to do for graduation or publications, along with a timeline and who you will hand them off to, if necessary. Include as much detail as possible!

3. Have a future plan in place

You may not know 'exactly' what you want to do after leaving the lab, but hopefully you will have an idea. Once you choose a career path, allow yourself enough time to assess your skill set, and build any skills needed to transition into the new role upon leaving the lab. If this requires some time out of the lab, it is always best to tell your advisor what your plans are, why it is important to your career development, and how you will build the skills you need without interfering with finishing your research.

4. Don't present your desire to leave the lab as a "bad thing"

You may feel guilty, you may feel like you are disappointing your advisor, you might be leaving academia for reasons not entirely under your control, and you might encounter a less-than-supportive response, but it is important to stay positive, and present the news as an exciting career transition, and NOT a "Plan B". The more self-reflection you do ahead of time, and the more confident you are in your decision, the easier this will be. It's ok if it takes a little time to get to this point – just remember, this is your career, and you are in charge.

5. Make sure they know you value your training and time in the lab

PhD and/or postdoc training is incredibly valuable – and even if it's not the experience you hoped it would be, you cannot get through without learning something. You want your advisor (and yourself!) to feel that the training you received was not a "waste". Your technical abilities, communication skills, ability to collaborate and work with others, train junior colleagues, grasp complicated questions, think critically, and see solutions, are skills that will be useful in careers outside of academia.

Finally, while "success" of research trainees is still narrowly defined by many granting institutions as "success within academia," this is changing. You are a driven, motivated, intelligent, and highly trained individual, and chances are, you will be successful in whatever career path you choose. As you progress in your career, check in periodically with your advisor and update them. They may have no other way of tracking your career, or knowing how you benefited from their training. This way, you will be included in faculty boasting sessions, and held on par with your "Assistant Professor at Harvard" peer as the former trainee who "helped discover the cure for cancer while working on a team at X pharma" or the former trainee who "developed a medical device used to diagnose X disease", etc. As a bonus for doing this, you may make it easier for your peers to have their own discussions with your mentor!

Good luck!

Upcoming Propel Careers Career Development Seminars

Propel Careers offers weekly rotating career development seminars on 5 topics. The seminars cover different aspects of the job search process including; "Developing an Effective Job Search Strategy for Non-Academic Careers", "How to Establish an Efficient Network for Your Career Search", "Building a Positive On-line Personal Brand", "Looking Your Best on Paper: Resume and Cover Letter Advice", "Acing the Industry Interview".

Advanced registration is required to attend each individual seminar. Limited to 10 attendees per seminar. Seminars are held WEDNESDAY from 2:30pm-4:00pm at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square, additional details will be provided upon registration.

The agenda for each seminar is: Check-in and Introductions (15 min) Seminar (1 hr); Question & Answer period (15 min)

Click on Links below to Register:

Building a Positive On-Line Personal Brand Sept 10, 2014, 2:30-4:00pm – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/building-a-positive-on-line-personal-brand-registration-12551302283

Looking Your Best on Paper: Resume and Cover Letter Advice Sept 17, 2014, 2:30-4:00pm – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/looking-your-best-on-paper-resume-and-cover-letter-advice-registration-12582567799 href="http://2014cdss32.eventfizz.com">http://2014cdss32.eventfizz.com

Acing the Industry Interview Sept 24, 2014, 2:30-4:00pm – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/acing-the-industry-interview-registration-12583239809

Developing an Effective Job Search Strategy for Non-Academic Careers Oct 1, 2014, 2:30-4:00pm – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/developing-an-effective-job-search-strategy-for-non-academic-careers-registration-12583566787

How to Establish an Efficient Network for Your Career Search Oct 8, 2014, 2:30-4:00pm – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/how-to-establish-an-efficient-network-for-your-career-search-registration-12583739303

For information on the seminars, additional dates, and registration information please see: http://propelcareers-careerdevelopmentseminars.eventbrite.com Or: http://www.propelcareers.com/index.cfm/events/propel-careers-career-development-seminar-series/

About the Organizer, Propel Careers - Propel Careers is a Boston based life sciences search and career development firm founded in 2009 to foster entrepreneurship and to cultivate leaders in the life sciences industry. Propel recognizes the importance of job creation and career development opportunities to the success of the industry as well as to next generation of industry leaders. The mission of Propel Careers is to make connections that fuel innovation, and we do this through placement, networking, coaching and mentorship. To learn more, visit: http://www.propelcareers.com

Sept 16 FILS Event-Overview of Life Sciences Career Paths-Bioinformatics, Systems Biology, Modeling

On September 16th 2014 from 5:30-8:00pm, we will hold the 6th event of the 2014 Futures in Life Science (FILS) series. This event will focus on life sciences career paths in Bioinformatics, Systems Biology, and Modeling areas for individuals with graduate degrees. Panel members include CJ Godfrey, Ph.D., Director, MetroBoston & Principal Scientist II at Metrum Research Group LLC; Matthew Eaton, Ph.D., Computational Biologist, Syros Pharmaceuticals; John Mayfield, Ph.D, Biomedical Informatics Scientist, Foundation Medicine; Hsin-Pei Shih, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Lauren Celano, MBA, CEO of Propel Careers will moderate the panel.

During this event, the panel members will share insight on the industry and their career paths and they will provide tips for individuals looking to develop their careers in their area. We have a wonderful panel assembled. This event will be held at the MassBio Offices, 300 Tech Square, 8th Floor, and Cambridge, MA from 5:30-8:00pm. To register for this event, click here: http://fils62014.eventfizz.com/

Meeting Agenda: 5:30pm-6:00pm: Registration and Open Networking; 6:00pm-6:10pm: Introductions and Overview; 6:10pm-7:30pm: Panel Discussion, 7:30pm-8:00pm: Open Networking.

Full FILS 2014 Series Event Schedule.

January 21st, 2014 - Overview of Life Sciences Career Paths.

February 18th, 2014 - Consulting Career Paths in the Life Science Industry.

March 18th, 2014 - Commercialization 1 (Marketing, Product Management, Business Development) Career Paths.

April 15th, 2014 - Research and Development Career Paths in Life Sciences.

May 13th, 2014 - Clinical Development, Regulatory, and Medical Affairs Career Paths.

September 16th, 2014 - Bio-Informatics, Modeling and Systems Biology Career Paths. To register, Click Here: http://fils62014.eventfizz.com/

October 21st, 2014 - Commercialization 2 (Reimbursement, Pharmacoeconomics, Patient Advocacy, and Market Access) Career Paths. To register, Click Here: http://fils72014.eventfizz.com/

November 18th, 2014 - Finance, Legal, Operations Career Paths in Life Sciences. To register, Click Here: http://fils82014.eventfizz.com/

About the Series

The FILS Event Series is open to current graduate student (MBA, MPH, JD, Eng, Ph.D., MD etc,), postdoctoral fellow, or medical resident, interested in learning about the variety of career paths in the industry. Together, Propel Careers, MassBio, and MassBioEd are committed to fostering the next generation of industry leaders in the life sciences. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Futures in Life Science (FILS) Seminar Series is a year-long event series, created in 2011 by Propel Careers, MassBio, and the MassBioEd, to promote the variety of career paths ranging from research and development to marketing and commercialization that exist in the Massachusetts Life Science Industry for individuals with graduate degrees. We believe that the career paths that exist in the Massachusetts Life Science Industry are numerous, exciting, and rewarding and that it is imperative that students considering these careers be well informed regarding the areas that their education and training are relevant.

The year-long program provides in-depth overviews of specific careers in the life science industry that often require advanced degrees. We have focused on covering the various functional areas in the life sciences sector including, R&D, consulting, product management, business development, marketing, clinical, regulatory, medical affairs, bioinformatics, systems biology, modeling, pharmacoeconomics, reimbursement, patient advocacy, market access, finance, legal, and operations. Most graduate students and post-docs are well prepared to take numerous directions in their careers, and it is our intent to provide a comprehensive understanding of the aptitudes and work environments that are associated with specific career paths, so that the individuals who attend these events can make more informed career decisions. We are also big believers in the power of connections and networking, so each seminar will have specific time set aside to meet the presenters and the attendees and to develop relationships that will be an asset to those in attendance.

The program has an average attendance of 80 individuals per event. Each event has a panel discussion comprised of industry leaders who provide an overview of the life sciences landscape and various career opportunities, which exist in the industry. The individual seminars are scheduled to accommodate the academic school year with a focus on the technical or scientific expertise that is relevant to each area and the typical work environment associated with common roles.

For more details on the series, visit the Propel Careers Website, click here: http://www.propelcareers.com/index.cfm/events/futures-in-life-science-series/

Upcoming Propel Careers Career Development Seminars

Upcoming Career Development Seminars in the CDSS Series offered by Propel are below. These seminars cover five different aspects of the job search process including; "Job Search Boot Camp: An Overview of Non-Academic Careers for Ph.D.'s", "Networking Insights", "Building a Positive On-line Personal Brand", "Looking your Best on Paper: Crafting a Resume and Cover Letter", and "Acing the Interview". Advanced registration is required to attend each individual seminar. Limited to 10 attendees per seminar. Seminars are held WEDNESDAY from 2:30pm-4:00pm at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square, additional details will be provided upon registration.

The agenda for each seminar is: Check-in and Introductions (15 min), Seminar (1 hr), Question & Answer period (15 min)

Click on Links below to Register:

Building a Positive On-line Personal Brand Wednesday July 2nd, 2:30pm-4:00pm: http://2014cdss32.eventfizz.com

Looking your Best on Paper: Crafting a Resume and Cover Letter Wednesday July 9th, 2:30pm-4:00pm: http://2014cdss33.eventfizz.com/

Acing the Interview Wednesday July 16th, 2:30pm-4:00pm: http://2014cdss34.eventfizz.com/

Job Search Boot Camp: An Overview of Non-Academic Careers for Ph.D.'s Wednesday July 23rd, 2:30pm-4:00pm: http://2014cdss35.eventfizz.com/

Networking Insights Wednesday July 30th, 2:30pm-4:00pm: http://2014cdss36.eventfizz.com/

About the Organizer, Propel Careers - Propel Careers is a Boston based life sciences search and career development firm founded in 2009 to foster entrepreneurship and to cultivate leaders in the life sciences industry. Propel recognizes the importance of job creation and career development opportunities to the success of the industry as well as to next generation of industry leaders. The mission of Propel Careers is to make connections that fuel innovation, and we do this through placement, networking, coaching and mentorship. To learn more, visit: http://www.propelcareers.com

Upcoming Propel Careers Career Development Seminars

Upcoming Career Development Seminars in the CDSS Series offered by Propel are below. These seminars cover five different aspects of the job search process including; "Job Search Boot Camp: An Overview of Non-Academic Careers for Ph.D.'s", "Networking Insights", "Building a Positive On-line Personal Brand", "Looking your Best on Paper: Crafting a Resume and Cover Letter", and "Acing the Interview". Advanced registration is required to attend each individual seminar. Limited to 10 attendees per seminar. Seminars are held WEDNESDAY from 2:30pm-4:00pm at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square, additional details will be provided upon registration.

The agenda for each seminar is: Check-in and Introductions (15 min), Seminar (1 hr), Question & Answer period (15 min)

Click on Links below to Register:

Acing the Interview: Wednesday June 11th, 2:30pm-4:00pm: http://2014cdss29.eventfizz.com/

Job Search Boot Camp: An Overview of Non-Academic Careers for Ph.D.'s Wednesday June 18th, 2:30pm-4:00pm: http://2014cdss30.eventfizz.com/

Networking Insights Wednesday June 25th, 2:30pm-4:00pm: http://2014cdss31.eventfizz.com/

Building a Positive On-line Personal Brand Wednesday July 2nd, 2:30pm-4:00pm: http://2014cdss32.eventfizz.com

Looking your Best on Paper: Crafting a Resume and Cover Letter Monday July 9th, 8:30am-10:00am: http://2014cdss33.eventfizz.com/

About the Organizer, Propel Careers - Propel Careers is a Boston based life sciences search and career development firm founded in 2009 to foster entrepreneurship and to cultivate leaders in the life sciences industry. Propel recognizes the importance of job creation and career development opportunities to the success of the industry as well as to next generation of industry leaders. The mission of Propel Careers is to make connections that fuel innovation, and we do this through placement, networking, coaching and mentorship. To learn more, visit: http://www.propelcareers.com

Life takes time – Part 1: Hiring Seasons

By Lauren Celano, CEO, Propel Careers

Lauren Celano, CEO, Propel Careers wrote this blog for Bio Careers as part of her monthly contributions. To learn more about Bio Careers, see link: http://biocareers.com/bio-careers-blog?title=&tid=All&uid=Lauren+Celano

Just like the ocean waves, hiring is a process with peaks (fall and spring) and troughs (summer and winter). Certainly some hiring occurs during the troughs, but much less than the peaks. During the slower periods, I advise people to actively set aside time to self-reflect. Consider what you want, need, and prefer in your next role, team, and company so that you are focused and prepared to seize the right opportunity once hiring picks up.

Every summer, I talk with numerous people who all ask (in a worried tone), why am I not finding roles or being asked to interview? Many of these people have incredible backgrounds and experience relevant to a variety of roles. My response: the "summer slowdown." Simply put, hiring managers, HR people and others at a company are on vacation. Therefore interviews are difficult to schedule and feedback is hard to obtain in a timely manner to move the hiring process along.

The "summer slowdown" presents a unique opportunity for candidates considering a career or company change. Candidates should use this time to engage in informational interviews since the people they are looking to connect with may also have more time for coffee, lunch, or a phone call. During these conversations, candidates can learn about companies and roles as well as skillsets needed to excel in a new opportunity. This information will help develop a career search plan and also provide much needed information to spruce up (or totally revise) a resume.

This time is the perfect opportunity to develop and build out a professional and detailed LinkedIn profile (which can be searched by HR and hiring managers). Add a summary section, details about work experience, educational background, professional associations and other information (i.e. papers and publications). Developing a full profile usually takes a few iterations so the time allows you to gather feedback from your contacts and revise as needed.

Candidates should also cultivate their network to connect/re-connect with industry and career relevant individuals i.e. college and grad school classmates, former co-workers, and personal connections from groups like running clubs or charities. Use the slowdown for coffee, lunch, picnics, or calls. Learn about what your contacts are up to. Maybe you can be helpful to them as well.

Develop a "target company" list with categories such as "relevant" i.e. companies related to your background, "interested in" i.e. companies that you want to learn more about, and "work for" i.e. companies that you want to work for. Usually the "relevant list" is much larger (i.e. 50 companies) than the "work for" list (i.e. 5 companies). This process can take weeks or months, so starting when you have time to devote to it is very worthwhile.

Preparing yourself during the downtimes will allow you to make the most of the hiring surges. Hiring can happen quickly, within 3-4 weeks from post of job to offer given, so you want to make sure you can hit the ground running when the right opportunity comes your way.

Building your “soft skills” By Lauren Celano, CEO, Propel Careers

Lauren Celano, CEO, Propel Careers wrote this blog for Bio Careers as part of her monthly contributions. To learn more about Lauren's Blogs for Bio Careers, see link: http://biocareers.com/blog/lauren-celano

I often advise PhD students on career planning and the many options available to them in and out of academia. When I ask about specific skills, many focus only on their research/technical skills, i.e. "hard skills" such as genetics, cell biology, computer science, chemistry or pharmacology. When I inquire about "soft skills", I am often met with looks of confusion. This blog provides a few examples of "soft-skills" to help scientists build and realize these important "other skills".

Teamwork skills

A PhD student who works on a multi-disciplinary project team, e.g. a cell biologist who works with a biochemist, bioinformaticist, and pharmacologist to understand a disease pathway, must have good teamwork skills to be successful. The same is true for a Ph.D. student who works on, or leads, a collaborative project with other labs in their institution or with outside academic labs, industry, or non-profit disease foundations. These experiences provide examples that can be shared with potential employers regarding how they successfully worked on a team, lead a team, and lessons learned throughout the process.

Written Communication skills

Many PhD students write documents, i.e. manuscripts, grants, review articles, and let us not forget the ever popular thesis. While scientific communication is important, the ability to communicate with those outside your field of study is invaluable. In fact Albert Einstein is often credited with saying "If you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it well enough." To develop these skills, students can take the opportunity to write for different sources such as the school newspaper, the departmental newsletter, an industry association, disease foundation, or a personal blog.

Verbal Communication skills

Public speaking is a valuable asset for the career scientist. PhD students can build these skills through teaching, and speaking at conferences, departmental meetings, relevant societies and foundations and charity events. One should also take advantage of potential leadership roles in student organizations, as well as groups such as toastmasters.

Networking skills

Formal and informal networking opportunities abound, you just need to know where to look. Examples of formal networking opportunities include participation in student government, interest groups and clubs, and professional organizations. Some professional organizations even have student affiliates. There are also many informal networking opportunities that one can take advantage of, including common interest, advocacy and charitable groups, industry organizations, and social and professional networking events. In fact, I would bet that there is a networking opportunity to be had just about every night of the week. You just have to be willing to seek it out, and more importantly get up the courage to attend and participate. You never know who you might meet. It's truly up to you.

In today's job market the hard skills are not always enough to get you into that perfect role. Employers are looking for people who are well rounded who have the right mix of both soft and hard skills. Take initiative to immerse yourself in opportunities to grow and develop. The effort will pay off.

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