The Chemist: How to Get a Job After Grad School

Hey Everyone! I hope you all have been hitting the ground running this fall. I know I have been ridiculously busy these last few weeks so I'm trying to keep everything straight. Since it's also hiring season, we decided to give you all some tips on how to land that perfect (or almost perfect) job. I'm not actively looking for jobs at the moment since I have a little bit longer in school, but I'm going to pass along some tips that I've been given.

Now as a chemist, there are a few paths I could take once I graduate. I can either go into academia or industry or government. Each of these types of job would be looking for something different so I'm going to try to keep these tips universal.

Update Your Resume and CV

As an academic, you're likely to have both a resume and a CV. If you're not sure the differences, click here. My department has us send in updated CV's every year so I'm in the habit of updating it, but you should start doing the same. When you get a new responsibility, learn a new analytical technique, publish a new paper (this isn't as important for industry), etc. update both documents! For CV's add presentations, relevant coursework (with final grades!), and relevant memberships. Both can include awards/honors, if they apply, and you should always tailor your career objective to the specific position.

LinkedIn is Your Friend

Every time I go to a conference I do two things, I hand out business cards and I always connect with the people I meet on LinkedIn. It's one thing to talk to a recruiter at a conference, but you want them to remember you too! That means you have to keep in contact with them. LinkedIn is one way to do that because it's a virtual resume. You can stay on their radar and they can see when you update it with more accomplishments.

Experience is Key!

Getting a PhD gives you tons of experience that you can use as leverage, you just have to market it correctly! Were you in charge of one of your lab's instruments? "Instrument Maintenance" is a skill! Were you the lab manager or safety officer? Leadership and organizational skills! All of that writing you've been doing? All skills you can use in the job hunt! Aside from the technical experience you gain getting this type of degree, you also gain a lot of soft skills. Make sure you take time to identify both the hard and soft skills you've obtained over the years.

Have an "Elevator Pitch" on Hand

An "elevator pitch" is a short description of your background and experience. You should always have a quick synopsis ready to go! You never know who you're going to meet or under what circumstances you're going to meet them so it never hurts to have some highlights about yourself on hand. If you're looking for an academic job, your "elevator pitch" should include your research interests as well. These kinds of pitches also come in handy at networking events! Science jobs are about who you know so always be prepared to impress!

Hopefully these tips are helpful for those of you starting to apply for jobs in the science world. What are some other questions you have about getting a job after graduate school? Tweet me some of your concerns.

- The Chemist