I had two phone calls today about my job search. The first was from a career coach who told me about the services a career coach can offer. This is totally worth talking about, because it's a resource I was barely aware of, but it left me thinking "I need to do some soul searching before I'll ever find a job." The second call was from one of the recruiters I follow on twitter- I don't mean to name drop, but @levyrecruits was deeply helpful to me, and I suspect he would like to be to you.
After first spooking me with his scary phone voice, Steve asked me about what I was looking for (and I could tell that he had already been through my LinkedIn profile- good thinking to link to that from my twitter profile). "Job in biotech or pharma in umm... drug development..." (still working on the pitch). So he prompted me to feed him names of companies that I could see myself working for. "AstraZeneca? Pfizer? Amgen? But I don't ever know what positions I should be looking for..."
This might seem fairly pedantic, but I surely hadn't done this yet- so I'm recording it as a mark of my diminished naivete. So Steve made me get on LinkedIn and do an Advanced People Search for "AstraZeneca" and "University of Pittsburgh." Then he found a scientist there- and used google to pull up his email and his list of publications (via ResearchGate- note to self: look into that), and told me to shoot this guy an email to say something like "I'm a fellow scientist and University of Pittsburgh alum, I'm wondering if I really need to do a post-doc to break into this field, would you be willing to entertain a phonecall?" Because if he is willing, it seems pretty obvious to ask "What is the job title for scientists with Ph.D.s and no experience??" and the eventually "Who is the HR/recruiter for your department/company?" And if I start hearing "You NEED a post-doc to enter biotech," I'll go get one.
We chatted a little more, Steve flipping through companies and profiles while I realized he sees LinkedIn much less statically than I do. He is posting articles, commenting on things- his LinkedIn probably looks like my facebook but with less pictures. My LinkedIn looks like a lonely gossip board- but I'm working on that. He told me to go and join 25 groups with at least 1000 members in them, so I'll have more excuses to connect to people.
He asked me about working at a national lab while googling Infectious Disease Lab and we perused the CDC, and then he remembered a guy he knows at Pacific National Labratories. We looked at jobs there, and when I said it sounded like fun, he dropped the PNL recruiter's phone number on me. Told me to call him right away. He told me to ask him about opportunities at PNL that I might be a good fit for. (And then to tell him that's what Steve Levy taught me to do. If I come off like a tool as a result of this cold call, I'm pretty sure that spreads the blame a bit...) I'm starting to get it- you are looking for the recruiter, and then you need to find out what the recruiter needs, and help them see how that is you.
I'm still unsure about navigating this whole world run by recruiters, but it seems best to just own up to it and dive in. I don't think it makes me a sell out, I am hoping it makes me competitive.