Career Planning

Planning your career is a bit like planning a relationship: hard to do and not always advisable. When looking back over a career, most people describe an organic process of personal growth and openness to opportunity. The world of work is constantly evolving, making it difficult to predict how your career will change over time. Additionally, your needs and interests will change over time so a career that sounds good right now, may not be a good match in the future. 

Because there is so much that is unknown, it is difficult to make a long term plan. Short term planning however is easier, and so long as you regularly reflect on your goals, it is possible to ensure that you moving in a direction that will continue to meet your needs and interests. 

Below is a timeline for postdocs that will help to guide you on how to plan your career while you are at Yale: 

Identifying Goals

Essentially, a goal can be defined as a desired outcome that you are committed to. Broadly speaking the question you are attempting to answer is “what would make me happy?” It may seem simplistic, but it is not actually an easy question to answer!

Often the best place to start is by answering some fundamental questions about your happiness:

  • What has made you happy in the past?
  • What do you enjoy in your life right now?
  • What would you like to change?

The answers that you come up with will likely touch upon the 3 main elements of self assessment: 

  • values
  • interests
  • skills

Understanding what you are looking for in each of these areas will help you when you start researching career options to determine what will be a good fit 

  • sector
  • field
  • job

This diagram puts it all together: 

Notice that the ideal job is at the intersection of the elements. It is important to remember that it is not necessary that all of your needs, skills and interests be contained within your job. In fact, it is not likely that one job will have everything you want. Additionally, you may not want to have all of your needs fulfilled by your career -just because you have a particular skill, does not mean you have to use it in your career!

Resources:

myplan.com provides descriptions for hundreds of jobs at every level, and also has online assessment tests that will try to match you to career options. The values questionnaire is free and the others cost $10-20. You can create a free account that will allow you to save your searches and the results of your assessments.

Career Development Peer Groups (CDPG) is a great program at Yale to consider if you are in the sciences.

See also Researching Careers -Getting Started for additional resources.

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Researching Career Options

Although it is tempting to start your career planning here, researching options can be overwhelming if you have not identified your goals.

It is hard to find what you are looking for if you don't know what you are looking for!

Once you know what you are looking for, there are 3 main areas to consider when researching your options:

A. What sector do you want to work in?

Broadly speaking, the world of work can be broken down into 4 sectors: 1) Academic, 2) Industry, 3) Non Profit and 4) Government. Each of these sectors has a different mission and as a result their values will be different:

  • Academic (knowledge, freedom, focus/expertise, independence)
  • Industry (influence, ambition, fast pace, team work)
  • Non Profit (positive impact, variety, initiative, team work)
  • Government (planning, balance, security, structure)

B. What field do you want to work in?

Within each of these sectors there are many fields to choose from. These fields are frequently multi-disciplinary and it is important not to limit your options by only focusing on the fields that obviously match with your area of research. (ie biochemistry cancer research = pharmaceutical). There are probably other fields that you can apply your interests and expertise to (ie biochemistry = cosmetics research)

Once you have identified some specific fields of interest, you will want to research the specific organizations within each one. Every organization has a different culture and mission. Allergan and Pfizer may both be pharmaceutical companies, but they are structured and operate differently, and value different things in the workplace.

Knowing your workplace needs (i.e. security versus advancement) is extremely important at this stage, as it can have a tremendous impact on your career satisfaction. Targeting companies that can share your values will help you to be more successful in the long run.

C. What role (job) do you want to have?

Because every organization is structured differently, the set of responsibilities associated with a particular role can vary tremendously.  A "Project Manager" can be defined differently depending on the specific organization or even on the department. Job titles are rarely consistent across companies. Every position should be thought of as unique. As a result, it is often easier to start your career planning by identifying potential employers and then researching what specific role at that organization would be a good fit for you. Typical job functions include:

  • Research & Development : these are the people who create the stuff.
  • Testing & compliance: these are the people who test it and make sure it is legal
  • Professional & Support Services: these are the people who build it and deliver it
  • Communications Sales & Marketing: these are the people who tell people about it
  • Policy: these are the people who think about and plan it
  • Administration: these are the people who run the place

Getting Started

 

Career Guides

The sites listed below each provide helpful descriptions of the different fields, industries, and types of careers that you may be interested in, along with links to further resources in that area.

 
Yale Career Network
www.alumniconnections.com/olc/membersonly/YALE/networking

This directory allows current students and postdocs to connect with Yale alumni (both student and postdoc alumni) to find out about career paths, and ask for valuable career advice. You will need to be logged in with your Yale NetId in order to access this database.  To access the database after you have left Yale, you will need to complete the Postdoc Exit Survey (http://postdocs.yale.edu/postdocs/leaving-yale) to become a member of the Association of Yale Alumni.

Occupational Outlook Handbook
www.bls.gov/OCO

Compiled by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, this site contains industry and salary information and the projected growth of various jobs.

Sciences


myidp
http://myidp.sciencecareers.org/

Once you have registered this site will try to match you to science related career options based on your answers to a series of questions on your interests and skills. For each suggested career option there are linked resources where you can learn more about that career path. Don’t worry if you do not like all of the suggested options, or if the ones you are most interested in don’t appear at the top of the list. The tools don’t work for everyone, but the resources can still be very helpful, and the questionnaires are designed to get you to think about your interests, strengths and values.

Career Profiles
http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/career-profiles

Read about the wide variety of career paths taken by sciences PhDs, and gain insight on how they found their position.

Humanities and Social Sciences


Versatile PhD https://versatilephd.com/register/
This site provides excellent examples of the career paths taken by people with a PhD in a wide variety of disciplines. Premium content available to Yale affiliates. Register with your Yale email. Once you have registered you will receive a link to activate your account, which will take you to the main mage. You will need to login again to access the premium content, which can be found in the “PhD Career Finder” section

Beyond Academe www.beyondacademe.com
Written by a History PhD, this site is an excellent source of information on non-academic options, with a focus on arts and humanities

Resources

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Below are some sector specific resources that will help you to identify organizations in your chosen career. 

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Think Tanks, ​Non Profit & Government


American Think Tanks
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_think_tanks_in_the_United_States

Wikipedia provides a fairly comprehensive list of American Think Tanks. You can also view their list of international think tanks here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_think_tanks

Policy Experts  
www.policyexperts.org/us_experts/us_experts_issues.cfm

This site is actually a listing of experts by field, but it also names the organization they work for which could be a way to identify potential organizations to work for

Hillwatch  
www.hillwatch.com/PPRC/Think_Tanks.aspx

This is a Canadian site, but it it also lists some International Think tanks

Idealist
www.idealist.org

A very popular site with a lot of information about the non profit sector, and an excellent search engine that allows you to search for opportunities using many criteria (location, degree level, type of organization, cause, etc)

Points of Flight
www.pointsoflight.org

Another very comprehensive site on non-profits, designed for people who are interested in finding volunteer opportunities. A great way for you to identify places to gain skills and experiences outside Yale during your postdoc and to find organizations that you might like to work for.

DMOZ list of Organizations for Society
www.dmoz.org/Society/Organizations

From this page you can view a lists of organizations by subject (i.e. Environmental, Advocacy, or Education). It is also worth exploring other sections of this site, as there are many listings that will help you to identify organizations that you may be interested in working for.

GuideStar
http://resources.library.yale.edu/guidestarpass

This non-profit directory provides information on the mission, programs, leaders and financials of over 1.8 million non-profit organizations. When you access the website above from a Yale computer you will be asked login using CAS –this will take you to a page with the Yale username and password that you can use to gain access to the premium content on their main website  http://www.guidestar.org/

Federal Government Departments
www.usa.gov/directory/federal/N.shtml

A very clear A-Z index of US federal government departments.

Leadership Library
http://lo.bvdep.com/Browse.asp?curp=1

Provides personnel contact database of the institutional leadership of the United States, integrating 14 “Yellow Book” directories with information on more than 400,000 individuals leading U.S. government, business, professional, and nonprofit organizations.

Academic


All Fields
Specific fields

Industry


LinkedIn Company Directory
www.linkedin.com/directory/companies/

There are many ways to use LinkedIn to research career options and companies, this link will take you to a page where you can browse for companies by industry sector. Once you select a sector, you will be able to choose a location to obtain a list of companies on LinkedIn that match your desired sector and location. This video from Lynda.com provides a good overview of how you can use LinkedIn : http://www.lynda.com/LinkedIn-tutorials/Up-Running-LinkedIn/164460-2.html?org=yale.edu  (make sure you are logged into CAS)

 

Below is a list of useful Yale Library Databases.

If you have any difficulty accessing any of these databases, please do a search for the database you are interested in here: http://guides.library.yale.edu/databases

 
Career Insider (Vault)
http://careerinsider.vault.com/wps/portal/careerinsider?parrefer=702

Vault publishes over 70 guides in three areas: Industry Career Guides, Industry Employer Guides, and Career Topic Guides. New users must create a profile to gain access. Read the Career Insider Guide to learn more about this resource.

Drug Abuse Careers
http://drugabuse.com/library/drug-abuse-careers/
Going Global
http://online.goinglobal.com/default.aspx

You will need to be on a Yale computer to access the premium content in this site.  You can then create a personal login that will be valid from any​ computer for 180 days. However, a lot of the content is free. For international scholars, this site has an excellent database of H1B employers (see http://online.goinglobal.com/H1BInfo.aspx)

Hoover’s company Profiles on ProQuest
http://search.proquest.com/hooverscompany?accountid=15172

If you are on the Yale network, this database will provide you with a link to “Full Text” reports that provide a lot of detail about specific companies and their competitors. You may also want to search the entire set of business databases on ProQuest here: http://search.proquest.com/business?accountid=15172

Business Source Complete
http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?authtype=ip,uid&profile=ehost&defaultdb=bth

This database is extremely comprehensive, providing news, articles, company profiles, and SWOT analyses of business topics globally. It is not very user friendly, you may want to start by doing a simple keyword search and then use the filter options (on the left) to refine your results.

*One Source
http://logon.onesource.com/?LogonUserID=RollingUserID

Slightly more user friendly, this site compiles information from a variety of databases. Start by selecting “Build a List” under the Companies menu. Once you have selected your search criteria click Search at the bottom and then lick on “View Results” –a tiny link above the tabs on the right.

LexisNexis
www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic/?

Another very comprehensive database that is difficult to navigate. Start by clicking on “Get Company Info” - if you know what company you are interested in learning more about, you can search for it in the textbox that appears, otherwise, click on the link below “Company Dossier” and use the tabs to search using other criteria.

Mergent Online
www.mergentonline.com/basicsearch.php

Use the tab at the top to switch to “Advanced Search” this will allow you to search by location and industry code.

Mintel Academic
http://academic.mintel.com/

Provide easy to read reports on the latest news and issues within various industry sectors. After accessing the site on a Yale computer you will need to use your Yale email to create an individual profile.

Market Research Handbooks by RKMA (Richard K Miller & Associates)
www.rkma.com/yale/library/

Invaluable for better understanding the field that you are applying to, these handbooks provide a comprehensive overview of top industry sectors including: Entertainment Media & Advertising, Healthcare, Leisure, Restaurant, Food & Beverage, Retail, Sports, Travel & Tourism.

Standard & Poor’s Net Advantage
www.netadvantage.standardandpoors.com/

Click on the “Industry” tab at the top to view a list of reports by industry sector –then use the links on the left menu to select what type of report you are interested in.

Life Scie​nces


International Biopharmaceutical Companies (International Biopharmaceutical Association)
http://secure.ibpaalliance.org/assets/usrdocs/list-your-company.html

Company listings in areas such as: Pharmaceutical, contract research, clinical investigation, biotechnology and pharma consulting, research development and industry service.

BioPharmaGuy
http://biopharmguy.com/

This website provides a lot of useful information for people interested in a career in biopharma. The regularly updated database of companies in the US can be searched by business type or location. 

Assay Depot
www.assaydepot.com/about

The goal of this service is to connect researchers with service providers. As such they provide listings of organizations that you can use to do research on organizations that may be of interest to you. Be sure to check out the Contract Research Map http://www.contractresearchmap.com/ which lists contract research organization listings in North America, Europe and Asia. 

BIOCOM CRO
biocomcro.org/development-guide-ref/

BIOCOM is the largest regional life science association in the world, representing more than 550 member companies in Southern California. In addition to providing a list of local CROs, their guide provides a clear description of each phase in the drug development cycle.

Biomedical Association of Students for Excellence (list of Biomedical Companies)
http://basebme.jimdo.com/links/biomedical-companies/

List of companies in the field of biomedical engineering, pharmaceuticals and bio-sciences. Unfortunately this site is currently blocked by Yale ITS (all jimdo sites are blocked). You will need to access it off campus.

Clinical Trials (CenterWatch) 
www.centerwatch.com/clinical-trials/listings/default.aspx?View=Areas  

List of industry-sponsored clinical trials. Searchable by medical condition, therapeutic area and location.

 
 
 

 

Salary Information

Knowing typical salary ranges can be an important consideration when selecting a career path. It is also essential when you reach the stage of negotiating a job offer. Just remember that salary is only one component of the compensation package. Be clear about what else is important to you (flex time, vacation days, health benefits, etc.) The sites below will provide general information on salaries for a wide range of careers. 

Professional Development

Your experience as a postdoctoral researcher at Yale is an opportunity for you to develop the skills you will need for your future career. Regardless of what career path you are interested in, you will need a wide variety of skills to be successful.

The National Postdoctoral Association has identified six core competencies that we encourage you to use to determine what kinds of training would be most beneficial to you.  It is important to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and consider the best way for you to develop across all six areas:

  1. Discipline-specific conceptual knowledge
  2. Research skill development
  3. Communication skills
  4. Professionalism
  5. Leadership and management skills
  6. Responsible conduct of research

While your research experience and your mentor will help you to advance in the first two areas, our office works collaboratively with the university to help you develop your skills in remaining areas.

To the left you will find links to information about professional development resources available for specific elements of the core competencies. 

We announce professional development opportunities regularly in our newsletter, on our calendar, and in targeted email announcements.

Of course we also welcome your ideas for special programing and encourage you to contact us to share your thoughts and feedback.

Training & Getting Involved at Yale

The variety of training opportunities available at Yale is enormous and impossible to list in one place. A good place to start is the Training and Certification website which contains a list of workshops and courses offered by a variety (but not all!) departments: https://bmsweb.med.yale.edu/tms/tms_enrollments.owners?p_std_id=128877

There are many groups on campus that provide professional development programing, mentorship and opportunities to gain valuable experience and skills outside of your research. Some of the more popular ones are listed below. This list is by no means complete, so If you have a special interest, it is worth searching the Yale website to find out if there is an existing group that you could get involved with.

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C​onnect With Alumni


AYA Students and Alumni of Yale (STAY)

http://www.yale.edu/stay/

AYA Yale Career Network

https://www.alumniconnections.com/olc/membersonly/YALE/networking

Yale Alumni No​nprofit All​iance (YANA)

http://yalenonprofitalliance.org/

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Student & Postdoc Groups


Biomedical Career Committee (BCC) 

http://biomedcareerfair.yale.edu/hosts

Career Development Peer Group (CDPG)​

http://wisay.sites.yale.edu/career-development-peer-groups-program

Career Network for Student Scientists and Postdocs at Yale (CNSPY)

http://campuspress.yale.edu/cnspy/

Science Diplomats

https://sites.google.com/site/sciencediplomats/events

Healthcare and Life Sciences Club

http://groups.som.yale.edu/health/about/

Yale Graduate C​onsulting Club

http://www.yalegradstudentconsulting.org/

Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine

http://medicine.yale.edu/yjbm/index.aspx

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Tea​ching


Center for Teaching and Learning

http://ctl.yale.edu/

Yale Science Outreach 

http://onhsa.yale.edu/yale-students

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Research​


Libraries

http://www.library.yale.edu/instruction/

 
Office of Cooperative Research (OCR)

http://ocr.yale.edu/calendar

Office of Grant and Contract Administration

http://grants.yale.edu Training: https://bmsweb.med.yale.edu/tms/tms_enrollments.offerings?p_crs_id=1627&p_std_id=

Office of Research Administration

http://researchadministration.yale.edu Training: https://bmsweb.med.yale.edu/tms/tms_enrollments.courses?owner=GCFA&category=ORA&std_id=&keyword=&category_id=339

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Professional & Wellness


 
Organizat​ional Effectiveness and Staff Development

http://www.yale.edu/hronline/oesd/

http://www.yale.edu/hronline/worklife/

Yale Entrepreneurial Institute

http://yei.yale.edu/events

Yale Health Promotion Courses

https://bmsweb.med.yale.edu/tms/tms_enrollments.courses?owner=YUHSHP&category=CLASS&std_id=&keyword=&category_id=550

Yale Stress Center

http://yalestress.org/

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Diversity​


Office for International Students and Scholars

http://www.yale.edu/oiss/programs/events/index.html

Office of Diversity and Inclusion

http://www.yale.edu/hronline/diversity/index.html  Training: https://bmsweb.med.yale.edu/tms/tms_enrollments.categories?p_own_cd=ODI&…

Office of​ LGBTQ Resources

http://lgbtq.yale.edu/

Women In Sc​ience At Yale (WISAY)

http://wisay.sites.yale.edu/

Women’s Faculty Forum (WFF)

http://wff.yale.edu/

Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI)

http://www.yalewli.com/

Grant Writing

We strongly urge you to take advantage of the workshops offered by the Funding Resource Center within the Office of Grant and Contract Administration. These monthly workshops for faculty and trainees will help you to identify funding opportunities for your research and prepare successful, well-targeted grant applications.

The programs listed below are presented regularly. 

  • How To Write A Successful R01
  • Developing A Funded Research Program
  • Science Writing for Grants (and Manuscripts)
  • How to Write A Compelling Grant Abstract:  A Hands-On, Skill-Building Workshop
  • All About Career Awards: Applications, Review, and Stepping Stones to Funding Your Future
  • Show Me The Money: Using Online Databases to Identify Funding Opportunities for Your Research
  • Behind the Scenes at NSF, DOE, DOD and Other Funding Agencies: An Insiders’ Perspective on Grant Review
  • Behind the Scenes at NIH: Study Section Members Share Their Experience with Application Review
  • Revising and Resubmitting: Practical Considerations Based on the Psychology of Re-Reviews
  • Funding Q&A Clinic: Get your questions answered in an informal setting

Click here to find out about upcoming events and register

Responsible Conduct of Research

All postdocs should receive training in the responsible conduct of research, and postdocs paid from NIH training grants or NSF grants are required to take this training.  Our office will offer annual opportunities to gain training in all of the areas below:

Animal Subjects
Human Subjects
Data Management
Publication/Authorship/Peer Review
Conflicts of Interest
Research Misconduct
Mentoring
Collaborating with Industry

Go to https://bmsweb.med.yale.edu/tms/tmspage, Postdoctoral Affairs for a schedule of upcoming sessions.

Job Search

Networking has been consistently demonstrated as the most effective job search strategy, so why are so many people reluctant to network?

Getting Comfortable with Networking

Networking is about people helping people about actively creating and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with others, particularly those in your fields of interest. As a general rule, the larger your network, the more effective your job search is likely to be. By expanding your network you increase your chances of hearing about job openings like the technical writing position described above before the manager decides to use a more formal, public method of recruitment.

Commonly cited barriers to effective networking

Sheer Terror! I am much too shy/introverted to do this!
  • If you are not a naturally extroverted person, the concept of networking can seem massively intimidating. It helps to remember that networking is not primarily about you, it is about the other person. Skills like listening attentively, asking good questions and showing an interest in others are key. And if the idea of making cold calls day after day or attending self-proclaimed “networking events” ranks among your worst nightmares, there is no rule that says you have to network this way. Focus on creating and fostering relationships in ways that work for you, be that community involvement, referrals from friends, or talking with professors.
I don’t like schmoozing/using people – networking seems rude/aggressive to me.
  • Done poorly and with the wrong attitude, networking can indeed come across as aggressive and inconsiderate. Good networking, however, is about seeking out mutually beneficial relationships it’s a two-way street. Never assume that you can “use” someone and then just move on: reputations spread quickly within organizations and fields and you want to build a reputation as a “giver” not a “taker.” Show respect for your contacts’ time by doing your homework prior to any meeting. Do not try and push someone to do more for you than they are willing and make sure to show your appreciation by following up with a simple thank you note or email.
I don’t like asking for help or imposing on people – won’t that seem desperate?!
  • People influence and help us out in our lives and careers in a myriad of different ways. When you are just starting out in your career there is no way that you could have all of the answers and information that you need to make fully informed choices. Rest assured that anyone you talk to will have received help from someone somewhere along their career path and they will likely be quite pleased to give back a little. By asking for help you are giving others the opportunity to give and share their knowledge, wisdom and passion for their field. It can be a genuine pleasure to talk about your career path and interests with an eager listener.

Ti​ps

  • Attitude is everything here. Neediness, selfish-ness and desperation repel others; kindness, generosity and genuine interest in people attract.
  • Instead of focusing on what you need from an interaction, relax and start really listening to the other person. Find out what makes them tick, where their passions lie. Pay attention to what their needs are and figure out how you might be able to help them. Give first, and give often, the rest will tend to take care of itself.
  • As a job seeker it is natural to feel somewhat vulnerable and powerless at times – consciously remind yourself that you have a lot to offer others, be it your time, enthusiasm, knowledge, contacts, advice, skills or a listening ear.

It’s All About Building Relationships!

Remember that good networking is really about being friendly and interested in others, being an active and attentive listener and treating people with courtesy, respect and generosity. Smile, make eye contact, approach each interaction with an open mind and a positive attitude and you never know what may happen. Do not be shy to ask for help and be confident that you have a lot to give and offer in return. Actively seek out new contacts, follow up with those you meet, put in the effort to maintain and build upon these initial contacts and you will be well on your way to success.

As Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker and author, noted: “You can get everything you want in life, by helping enough other people to get what they want.”

Preparing Your Mini Introduction

Communication and conversation skills are critical to successful networking. Employers naturally prefer candidates who know themselves and what they have to offer and who can express this clearly and compellingly. As you develop relationships within your target field you will need to introduce yourself to many people and be able to make the most of these opportunities.

In such situations a little preparation goes a long way, especially if talking about yourself and your achievements does not come naturally to you. Start by identifying your strengths as a potential employee: your relevant skills, experiences, achievements, interests and goals. Then think about the organization or industry or individual you are targeting and consider which factors directly contribute to a good fit between you and them. Thirdly, be clear on what your goals are for the interaction. What are you hoping to learn? Finally you want to try to put all of this together into a mini introduction that might take several possible forms.

a) Sound Bite: An abbreviated introduction best used when time is short, as a lead-in to a telephone conversation for instance. Mention your name, educational background, and the purpose of making the contact.

Sample: Sound Bite

“Hello. My name is Danielle Ferguson and I am in a postdoctoral researcher in English literature at Yale. I am currently researching potential career options after graduation and the publishing sector is an area of particular interest to me. I understand you have held many different positions in this field, I am interested in finding out more about your career path. Would I be able to conduct an information interview with you sometime this month?”

b) Infomercial: A longer version of a sound bite, more along the lines of a verbal business card. In addition to your name and educational background, mention relevant experience and skills, knowledge of the organization and the information or position you are seeking.

Sample: Infomercial

Continue with: “Last year I gained some editing experience at H & R Publishing in Chicago where I especially enjoyed collaborating closely with writers. I would like to continue to gain editing experience, but am also interested in finding out more about the marketing side of the publishing business. I know that your company, NewBooks Plus, has recently expanded its marketing operations. Could you tell me more about these developments?”

c) Commercial: The longest version describes your background, qualifications, skills and achievements in more detail and would be used in situations where you are able to have a more extensive conversation with someone.

Sample: Commercial

Continue with: “Over the course of my doctoral degree and since I began my postdoc I have taken numerous business and marketing seminars to complement my research experience. I have a thorough understanding of American literature and writers, with expertise in modern poetry. I would enjoy collaborating with local authors to promote their new works. I have several questions regarding the qualifications and experience necessary to break into the field, and am very interested to hear what you have to say about this.”

Tips

  • The sample scripts outlined here are by no means designed to be memorized and blurted out without pause at any opportunity. Rather, they are designed to get you thinking about what you want to communicate in any given situation - use them as a place to start and a way to help structure your thoughts.
  • Your conversation partner will almost certainly have questions and responses to various aspects of your introduction. Prepare for this by thinking about what you might be asked and considering relevant points you would like to bring up in your answers.
  • You are the ultimate expert on yourself. No one can be more informative than you in describing your skills, expertise and experience. A passionate, confident introduction is what tends to impress.

Questions to Ask at a Networking Event or Information Interview

The key to a successful information interview is your enthusiasm, preparation and ability to communicate clearly. Before you go to an interview, think about the type of information that would be helpful to you. Consider doing some self-assessment exercises and come up with some questions that will help you determine if this type of career is a good fit with your interests and your personal and professional values.

The following questions are meant to help you get started at an information interview. Others will naturally flow from your conversation once you get going. Focus on the areas and concerns of most relevance to you and respect anything your interviewee does not want or is not able to talk about. Always remember to thank them for their time and ask if there is anyone else they would recommend you speak with.

Questions about their career path/training

  • How did you get into this field?
  • What has your career path been like to date? Is it representative of most people in this kind of position?
  • What kind of education/training do you have?
  • Are you a member of any professional orders or associations? Which ones do you feel are the most important to belong to?
  • What are the future prospects in this field? What trends do you see developing over the next few years?
  • If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself?

Questions about their current position and responsibilities

  • What does a typical day/week in your job look like?
  • What do you enjoy the most about your job? The least?
  • What skills have you found essential for success in this occupation?
  • Could you tell me about one of the main challenges you face in this position?

Questions about working conditions

  • How many hours do you work in a typical week?
  • How much autonomy do you have in terms of what you focus on at work?
  • What kind of supervision did you have when you were starting out? Now?
  • How is your performance evaluated?
  • What kind of professional development opportunities are available?

Additional questions

  • What advice would you have liked to have heard when you were starting out?
  • How would you recommend I “try out” this line of work (i.e. through a summer job, internship, volunteering…)?
  • What other fi lds or jobs would you suggest I research before making a fi al decision?
  • Is there anyone you would recommend I talk to next? When I call them, may I mention that you referred me?

Following Up

You may want to take some notes during the information interview, but do so sparingly, so as not to interrupt the flow of conversation. Then, after the interview, expand your notes and write down all of the main points and pertinent details covered. You might also want to note down your impressions of the organization, the general vibe, dress norms, etc.

Send a thank-you note or email within 24 hours of the meeting. This does not have to be long, but should express your appreciation and reflect the content of the meeting.

Nurture and maintain your relationships with the people you have interviewed. Keep them informed of your progress and any action you have taken based on their advice. If they referred you to someone who was also helpful or recommended a book, website or professional organization which you subsequently followed up on, let them know that. Once you make a decision about your career path or land the position you were hoping for, inform them of this as well and thank them for their role in your journey. And remember, good relationship building is reciprocal: if you read an interesting article they might enjoy, forward it on; if you hear about a success they have achieved or an award they have received, send a congratulatory note.

Sample: Thank Y​ou Email

Re: Meeting Last Week

Dear Mrs. Newman,

Thank you so much for talking with me last week. I really appreciated you taking the time out of your busy schedule to tell me about your fascinating and varied career path and to bring me up to speed on the latest developments in the led field of Biotechnology.

I learned a great deal from our discussion, and it has left more excited than ever about entering the profession. I also greatly appreciated your referral to your colleague in a new start up, Mr. Johnson. I spoke with him yesterday and we will be meeting later this week.

I will be sure to keep in touch and let you know how my career plans develop. Thank you again for your time, your enthusiasm and your suggestions.

Sincerely,

Linda Green

Applying for Jobs

This is the last step in the career planning process (many people make the mistake of starting here!)

After you have:

  1. identified your skills, interests and values
  2. selected career options that will meet your needs
  3. networked with people working in the organizations you are targeting

Then you will be ready to create a strong targeted resume and cover letter. The most common error postdocs make when creating a resume is to forgo tailoring it –it is incredibly important to take the time to examine the positing and identify all the skills they are looking for –including all the soft skills (communication, team work etc.) Once you know what they want, it will be much easier for you to ensure that you have addressed all of the things they are interested in and not to take space with information they are less concerned about (i.e. They may not need to know that you used X technique, but they may need evidence that you can manage people or communicate well). 

Here is a table that outlines the differences between an academic CV and a resume:

Here is a summary of what to include in your cover letter:

The following guides and sample industry resumes will help you to see what kind of information employers in industry are looking for:

  1. http://ocs.fas.harvard.edu/resources
  2. http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/gradstud/resumesamples.php
  3. http://graduate.dartmouth.edu/careers/services/resume.html
  4. http://www.careereducation.columbia.edu/resources/basics#OnPaper

Academic Job Search

The search for a tenure track faculty position is somewhat different from a regular job search, and has unique challenges. Below are several videos and resources from the 2014 Academic Job Search Series that will help you to get started.

A good place to start Vitae’s The Quick and Painless Guide to your Academic Job Search

For more resources see: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/746-the-quick-and-relatively-painless-guide-to-your-academic-job-search-resources


Videos on the Academic Job Search process

Visit the Yale Office of Career Strategy to see videos on various aspects of the job search process, from crafting a CV and cover letter to preparing for the interview.


Below are a few resources related to academic applications that you may find helpful: