Friday, September 30, 2011

The Benefits of Volunteering

Volunteering gets a mixed wrap in the job hunt.  There is one school of that that volunteering can help you build contacts and experiences to bolster your resume, and another that if you volunteer too much, people will wonder why you never got offered a job. Before we get too far into this, I think volunteerism of any kind is great, and taking the time to give of yourself to others is fantastic, regardless of whether it helps your career.  But  if you want to use volunteering specifically to help your career in someway, you might want to be careful about how you proceed.

I am currently volunteering at our Science Center.  I wanted to find something to get me out of the house while I am otherwise a full time job hunter, so I looked for opportunities that would add to my skills, while taking advantage of my background.  The science center is great for that, they love that I am a Scientist, but I predominantly provide "customer service."  Trust me, this was nowhere else on my resume.  But there is a real shift in attitude when you aren't just feeding figures and data to your boss with candor, but instead trying to figure out how to make people enjoy themselves more.  I am liking it a lot.  I also get to meet some really cool people, and don't get me started on how awesome it is to play with the exhibits all day.  This is good fit for me, because as great as the experience is as a volunteer, I think that it is pretty clear why I am not ever going to get a job offer from them.

In addition, as a volunteer, I have a lot of flexibility.  The science center has lots of volunteers; there are old folks who like to sit by the door to greet people and give them maps, and there are high school kids who like to do the demos.  Personally, I spend half my day walking the exhibit floors, and half my day working with the Girls Math & Science Program.  Right now, I am developing a big event to help introduce girls to careers in Chemistry.  I'm working out some demos, I need to solve some problems with rooms, I've got a budget and expect 100 girls in 6 weeks.  Again, this is experience that I don't have on my resume- but as a grad student who has had to juggle the logistics of scheduling committee meetings, experiments and teaching, I feel I have the skills to succeed here.

While I feel my experience as a volunteer is adding to my resume, I'm not really that sure it is going to be the magic bullet that lands me a job somehow.  I don't think anyone should approach it as if it would be.  But it is making it much easier to keep up my enthusiasm and stay creative about my job hunt, so I still think it is worth the time I spend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Networking- go meet some strangers!

I'm learning a lot of things about networking these days.  I'm trying to be clear about what I need (a job, preferably on the West Coast) and what I have to offer (great technical background, and a Ph.D. in molecular biology) to all kinds of people: people who can help, people I don't think can help but let me practice my spiel, people I don't know- ALL kinds of people.  Very rarely (um, not yet once?) has anyone said, OMG, really?  Because we've been totally looking for a molecular virologist/blogger to start ASAP!  And that's ok, I'm really not expecting job offers to show up at cocktail parties. 

That being said, there is something to getting out there and mingling.  This fantastic networking story came while I was visiting my brother in Austin TX.  Austin is about the only place in Texas I would consider living, it's fun and my brother is there, but... it is crazy hot, and us Alaskans melt.  When he dragged me out to a Roller Derby Party, I was certainly not thinking too hard about launching a career there.  But he mentioned to the stylish group of girls that I was here because I'm free for employment!  Anyone need a newly minted Ph.D.?  Which of course prompted our host to ask, what is your Ph.D. in?  And I said, sheepishly, because these grrls are all tough and I am clearly bringing the dork to the party scene, "Oh, molecular virology.  I've been doing drug discovery, so I thought I'd find a job in pharma..." Which prompted this Betty Paige look alike across the room to say, "You want a lab job?  Let me give you my card, Life Technologies is hiring..."  AND THEN later, when we were laughing about Roller Derby was the key to the Austin Biotech market, the girl I was sitting next to said, "Actually, I work for a firm that does educational science publications..."  And of course they hire occasional freelance/contractors.  Brilliant!  (I should probably mention that although my sister-in-law considers most of these girls to be friends, she knows them all by pseudonym, so it isn't surprising to not know what their day jobs are.)

If nothing else, this just proves that it was a good idea to get myself some business cards printed.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Interviews in Biofuels

One of the fields that has been suggested as a place ripe for hiring is biofuels- you know, the industry sprouting up around turning algal lipids into diesel, plastics and biomass for ethanol.  This is a fairly young field that is expected to grow a lot- and there is bio in the name.  Clearly there is a need for biologists, right?  Well, when you start looking at companies that actually do this type of work, it's hard not to think they needs engineers and algae wranglers, is there any need for a molecular biologist in this market?

I made two phone calls, one to a start-up in BC, one to a well established company in Cambridge, MA.  And while the fundamentals of the field were the same for both, I heard really contrasting opinions about how to break in.  In both cases, I just introduced myself briefly, "I have a PhD in molecular biology, and a background in drug discovery.  The more I think about a career in Pharmacueticals though, the more I realize that saving lives puts a greater burden on our energy problems.  Biofuels seems like a remarkable way to address this.  What is the role for biologists in this industry?" "What are the biological challenges for this industry, and what skills are needed (that I might obtain in a postdoc) to address them?"

In my conversation with the start-up, the CEO explained to me that the challenge for this industry is not to find a way to convert lipids to biodiesel- that's been done.  It's to find ideal strains for making both the product and byproducts and coproducts that can make the expensive process of growing algae (or cyanobacteria) more lucrative. There are many commercially available strains, so a biologist needn't reinvent the wheel, but does have to learn about various metabolic and regulatory processes that might impact production.  He said for them it was more important that a biologist be willing to learn, work hard and takes risks than to already be an expert in algae metabolism.

In the more established company (~100 employees, ~30 biologists), he said that there were some people who came to the department after defending, but these were people with a background in synthetic biology, metabolic engineering or genetic regulation.  He encouraged someone of my background to to a postdoc with one of the leaders in these disciplines in order to make an easy transition into this industry.  In both cases, I think the advice reflects the culture of the company- the guy in Cambridge is swimming in highly qualified scientists.  The start-up in BC needs more folks willing to earn their success by their bootstraps.  Maybe there is a middle group somewhere for me- someone that needs a molecular biologist, willing to learn and excited about the industry.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What am I waiting for?

When I started job hunting, I was determined to find a job, and not a postdoc.  But in the back of my mind, I always knew if finding a job didn't work out, I'd decide to postdoc somewhere.  Now I am a "full time job hunter," thick in the ups and downs of finding positions, connecting with people, getting rejections and finding new ways to approach the job hunt.  It's pretty clear, right now, that this isn't going to be easy, but my impression is that finding a postdoc position won't be a cake walk either, and I'm feeling pretty invested in the industry route.

Yesterday I got turned down for a position that I thought I was a great fit for, as did the recruiter who matched me to the position.  He explained that I wasn't picked for an interview because there were candidates with a similar background but industry experience.  That got me thinking about the bleakness of the job market, and when I was going to eat my humble pie and strike out for a postdoc in academia.  What is going to be the sign that now is a bad time to be a job hunter and just focus on a steady income?  But really, I'm not in a rush.  I don't feel like I've exhausted every possibility.  I just need to get a bit creative. 

Today I've started looking for industrial postdocs- including one at an engineering firm- as well as jobs in biofuels.  Hopefully I'll have more to say about the biofuels industry soon, but if you are curious about this, follow the hashtag #biochat on twitter. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Is having just a Ph.D. a non starter?

If you, like me, spend much (all) of your time looking at job postings, you have probably noticed a trend.  There are jobs for those with a BS, an MS or a PhD+postoc, but there is a surprising gap  in the number of jobs for people who just graduated, and want a job.  I am in the habit of contacting recruiters before I apply for a job, so I recently asked about a job for a person MS and a couple years of experience in drug discover (on average, that's me!  It would be perfect!)  The recruiter wrote back that unfortunately "the salary is not in line with that credential."  I wanted to write back "Lady!  The NIH wants to pay me $37K, I'll find a way to make do with whatever you are offering!" but I didn't because I am an adult.

I'm sure you've heard this rumor though: you can't get a job in industry unless you have post-doc experience (and it has to be the right post-doc experience, whatever that is). The friendly folks at Simply Biotech don't think it is impossible to be fit to an Associate Scientist position (read: Ph.D. + 0yrs).  I want to believe them, because they believe in me, but... I've started asking around.

I've started asking recruiters on LinkedIn "Does your company ever hire Ph.D.s without experience?" Check it out, I'm getting aggressive and networking.  Heck yes.  

The score so far: Novartis does not, and Kimberly-Clark and Cepheid do (in principle- neither has positions open today). I'll try to keep  you up to date as that score changes.  But the early results suggest that if not working freaks you out, get a post-doc.  It might be a while before a position opens up for you, new grads.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I reapplied for this job

This is probably a case study in "How to Apply for Jobs," so I am going to try and write this up objectively.  I applied for a job as a Scientist I (requires BS or MS +5yrs, it's a rural setting and I can do the assays, I figured why not) that required someone to validate pure proteins for clinical use.  There is a long write up about keeping records, working in a CLIA environment.  I tweaked the resume, and wrote a nice letter about how I am interested in this position, my background in drug discovery required me to validate lots of pure protein and I am really a good communicator. Sent it off.

The next week I tried to phone the recruiter, and left a message.

I finally got an email from him today, apologizing that while my resume is impressive, they were "looking for someone who can do SDS-PAGE, and check protein concentrations, but thanks for your interest."  I was appalled.  And then I thought, this is a guy who recruits predominately sales people, he has no idea that when I said "I've been optimizing protein purification for 7 years" it implies I've run SDS-PAGE.  So I checked my attitude, thanked him for clarifying the job requirements, told him that made me more confident I am an excellent fit for the job and asked him if he'd reconsider my application if I rewrote my resume.  He wrote back immediately and said, "Sure!"

So I rewrote my resume.  I have a short bulleted list of "Technical Aptitudes" that I update for each job, and I removed "protein purification" and added, "SDS-PAGE" and "Protein concentration." I added to my teaching experience when I had taught these techniques and bolded each time it came up.  Then I rewrote my letter.  "Thank you for reconsidering my application, as you can see, I am a serious asset, especially for the type of work your company does.  I've performed these assays with a level of expertise that allows me to train others.  The remaining assays that you perform that I have more limited experience in I am confident I can learn, because I have a Ph.D.  And years of experience.  In Summary, I am ideally suited to excel at this job, and I will happily discuss it with you further."  I hope it wasn't too defensive, but to write a letter for someone who really doesn't understand what the job requires, you gotta be really explicit. 

This is one reason checking out the recruiter on LinkedIn can help before you apply.  The job I applied for yesterday was going to be filled by a former Post-doc- Turn that jargon up to Stun!  This guy, not so much.  On the flip side, at this point, I'm much less interested in the job.  But I just couldn't take the idea that he thought I couldn't run a gel or do a Bradford.  Ouch. 

Perhaps the bigger moral here is to stay professional- I never would have known what was missing if I hadn't called, and he wouldn't have cared to reread my application if I have been a jerk about getting rejected.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Experiment 10:Meet with Recruiters

You may know I am targeting jobs out West.  Geography has certainly been a hurdle for my job hunt.  My network here doesn't know as much about opportunities on the other side of the country, and I think employers don't take me as seriously since I am not nearby.  This is one reason I've been using online technologies to connect with companies, jobs and recruiters- I know I won't just be running into these people otherwise.  I've also taken to removing my address from my resume ( I replaced it with my LinkedIn profile:  Please connect if you read the blog!)  I've acquired a Google voice phone number in the San Diego area, which should complement my actual cell phone number in WA.  And, I am constantly escalating my view of what counts as aggressive.

Given that I don't have a daily work site to attend to, I am using some of my time to visit family members out West.  Since there are a couple recruiters out there that I have been dying to talk to, I checked with the Oracle of Recruiting ( Steve @LevyRecruits), who said yes, try and make face to face meetings.  Give them a big window of time to schedule in, and give myself lots of time to regroup.  So, I'm trying it.  Let me make this clear, these are people whom have jobs listed I think I would be great for, who won't return my calls or emails, have a copy of my resume and still have their job posted.  All signs point to this job not working, but I still think I have a lot to offer their organization.  I'm actually a little scared about what I would do if someone agreed to meet, but in the arms race of job hunting, I'll do whatever crazy thing it takes to get hired.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hunting LIONs

From my post a few days ago, I hope you can see that I am filtering a lot of my job search efforts through LinkedIn. It's a good way to tell how big a company is, how likely they are to value social media and most importantly if I know anyone there. But I get frustrated that mostly I only know people at the University of Pittsburgh.

I'm sure I've mentioned that I am working on expanding my LinkedIn network (f you read the blog, please connect with me!). Finding old classmates, old professors and old coworkers actually isn't that many people. I'm still surprised by how many people aren't on LinkedIn. If you are thinking about looking for a job, you should be on it, and if you know anyone looking for a job, you should be too. If you only ever use it to set up a profile, it makes a great place to showcase professional accomplishments. But if you can find relevant people to connect with- or more likely, help people you know across your network connect with eachother, then it can be very powerful.

In my job hunt these days, I am often trying to find LinkedIn to see who is in charge of hiring at these smaller biotechs. This can be really hard, given the small scope of my network. I read somewhere that a reasonable network size of 150 will greatly increase your chances of being connected to companies you want to target. I'm not just in this for the numbers, but it does help to know that, uh... my network is objectively small.

A couple things about networking on LinkedIn. I am a member of the OpenLink community, which means that anyone in any of the groups I am in is welcome to connect with me. Remember when I joined 25 groups with thousands of members each? Yeah, that was why. It helps, often recruiters are OpenLink because they also want to expand their network quickly, so this makes it easy to connect with relevant folks.

And then there is this whole other class of citizen- the LinkedIn Open Networkers, or LIONs. They often put this in their headline, and it means that if you request a connection, they will connect with you. These people have thousands of connections, so having a couple biotech LIONs in your network should vastly expand the people and profiles you have in your own network. Yes, I am totally taking advantage of that. I have a very low probability of further connecting with most of these people, but I assume these people don't send birthday cards out for each of their 10,000 network connections either. But having just a couple of these people in my network makes me visible to all those other people as well, so I think it is worth finding a few biotech LIONs.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Experiment 9: Getting aggressive, asking about jobs

By this point in the experimentation process, it's become clear to me that behavior I previously thought was outlandishly presumptive or aggressive is at worst barely approaching standard practice. Remember how I used to feel about calling HR? Or finding people on LinkedIn? Who knows what makes us scientists so shy, but I am here to push the bounds of acceptable job hunting behavior all the way to "expected levels of interaction." Call me a rebel.

I've started committing (via Twitter) what I used to think was a major faux-paus: asking about jobs. I'm not asking for jobs yet (that's still tacky), but I've found some recruiters who ought to have the types of jobs I am looking for, but only seem to post jobs that aren't right for me (QC Chemist). In prinicple, they know I am watching, because they can tell that I follow them, but I don't pay any attention to who my actual followers are. The only way to get noticed on Twitter is to speak up directly. When I asked Vala Sciences (publicly) for more info about openings, I heard back from them (they will be opening a new department, but they want to get a director in place first. It's almost time for a follow-up with them). So why not just ask the biotech recruiter? Why not just ask Amgen, do you have positions for people with my background?

The obvious reason not to is that the very thought of it makes me feel ill. But both Steve Levy and Adrienne Graham were comically appalled by my lack of aggressiveness in this whole thing. How are these people/entities going to know you want a job otherwise? Continuing to apply for the wrong positions isn't helping. I would really like to work for Amgen- they paid my summer stipend the summer I decided to go to graduate school, so I've always had a soft spot for them. But their careers pages is confounding and so my resume is likely filled under "people who can't read job descriptions." Hopefully I can get someone there to at least point me towards the correct job title or department to look for, since that would be a huge advantage to me. As bashful as I am feeling about this, I still don't think I'm crossing the bounds of appropriate job seeker behavior. In fact, I am finally just beginning to broach the whole reason groups like Amgen and Merck are on Twitter in the first place- to connect with candidates before the hiring process begins.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Experiment 8:Using Google Maps to find target companies

Here comes a disclaimer on what may be a very boring blog post: One of the reasons I am keeping this blog is to record for myself my progress in the career/job search. I'm recording both the big breakthroughs and the inane updates for myself and anyone else who might be curious about how you are supposed to find a job. That's right, I'm 28 years old, and the last job I applied for I got when I was 17. And it required rainpants. So presenting oneself professionally, aggressively and effectively for the purpose of employment seems very foreign. I'm writing it down so I can look back later and figure out what works and what doesn't.

There are many parts of job hunting that don't feel like job hunting but are really important- polishing my resume, pinging my network, preparing for interviews, un-wrinkling professional clothes, etc. But the part of job hunting that is a bit harder is finding jobs to apply for that I have some chance to get.

Job boards are a good place to start, but I find that really draining (I don't have clinical experience or a PharmD,... or 20+ yrs of management experience...ugh. Where are the jobs for new PhDs?). Several people have recently asked me "what my target companies are?" and I have no idea. So under the guise of finding target companies, I went to Google Maps of Seattle, and searched "biotech." Then I went to each company's website to figure out what they do, and then see if there were jobs open. If there were jobs that seemed close (I am using AvidCareerist's cutoff of 75% of job requirements), I went to LinkedIn to see if I knew anyone there. I've asked for a few introductions, and sent a couple emails to hear more about these companies. So far the only people I've heard back from said I really wouldn't be a great fit (we were actually looking for a crystallographer, not just someone who isn't afraid of structural data).

I liked this because it revealed some new companies/positions I have not already seen on the jobs boards- smaller places that the Merck, Amgen and St. Jude's posts that dominate a lot of jobs boards. Job hunting is boring, so I am happy to have ways to change it up. But, I'm still not really sure what I will say to any of these potential LinkedIn connections should I ever hear back from them. I'm also not sure if I job that is only posted on a company's "Careers" page is more or less likely to be an urgently open position or not. I'll report back later.

And I also still don't have "target companies." What does that even mean?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Caution: More ways to Spam yourself

Getting up to date information is really important in a job hunt. You want to know who is hiring and you want to have relevant news to share with your network. But, I am starting to think all these email updates may be getting out of control.

I get updates from job boards, so I know when jobs I might be interested in come up so I can apply for them (BioCareers, USAJobs, Washington Biotech Business Association etc.). I get "daily/weekly digests" from my LinkedIn groups (19 and counting) to tell me who is discussing what, and if jobs were posted. I'm now signing up for updates from and Google Alerts for biotech news- which I am hesitant to do. This morning, I cleared out 184 unread messages from my inbox.

I'm hoping a clean slate and adjusting some of my settings will help. I am already going to the LinkedIn Groups, so I don't need to hear from them, and I should probably just admit that daily digests of anything are too much for me. I'll let you know how Google Alerts pans out, unless I just decide I've got too much email to read anymore.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Networking advice from a true master

Remember the recruiter that I follow on twitter whose radioshow I love? Her name is Adrienne Graham, she tweets as @talentdiva and she is the CEO of - she is awesome. Well, she wanted to host a G+ hangout to talk about networking (also, she's an early adopter). She was on a twitter riff the night before with loads of great networking advice (like get business cards and don't go into it thinking you'll get something right away) so knew I wanted to try this hangout. (Don't know what a Hangout is? Still need a G+ Invite? email me)

Uh... and I was the only one who showed up. What? Uninterrupted quality time with one of the leaders in the recruiting field? I must be doing something right! I should add, I was prepared for this hangout. I had some questions, I had some stuff I thought I would share- I was ready for both giving and taking. But really, she just fed me vastly superior gems of advice. Some of it easy stuff- social networking tools don't make up for actually quality time, and you need real relationships with people. Get face to face. And stay in touch over the long run. So yes, coworkers, I'll be coming back by the lab soon.

And some really savvy advice- when I mentioned I was trying to build a network to help me move across the country, she suggested I get a Google phone number in that area code and take my address off my resume. That way geography won't get in the way of my application. She also said I should ask to meet via Skype or Googlechat with people I might otherwise call- it's more personal.

She suggested I get Google alerts for biotech news, and then told me about a cool site called that can provide inside info about target companies like upcoming hiring and firing decisions. I'm excited to explore that!

And can we go on about the books she wrote? She didn't even bring this up until I mentioned what a novice I am at really getting value out of networking, but yeah, she's written 4 books on it.

Net result? My goals for tomorrow include:
  • get free business cards printed
  • set up Google alerts
  • check out
  • get a California phone number
  • start reading "Go Ahead, Talk to Strangers" which is downloading as I type
I'll break it up by continuing to look for target companies in Seattle and San Diego via LinkedIn, and maybe pinging my network a bit. Today I got a couple new contacts I need to check in with, so tomorrow will be a busy day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Interacting with Recruiters

I'm awkward on the phone. I can't seem to pick up the few remaining social cues on the phone, so I tend to be very literal in phone conversations. "I am calling about X job. Can I commence with my qualifications? Oh, X job is full. Abort. Goodbye." What can I say? I am working on it. This is one reason I am really excited about social networking tools that don't require immediate telephone conversations. Which is probably why I tweeted a question to a talk radio show, but I digress. I want to share some resources for job hunters who may be interacting with recruiters.

One of the recruiters I follow on twitter (because she is approachable and gives good advice) is @talentdiva. She is a recruiter, not in biotech, who is good at sharing how HR/recruiter types think. It's hard to target a resume for the first eyes that will see it, so I've found her perspective helpful. She has a weekly talk radio show called Views from the Top where she covers a variety career related topics. The last two shows were specifically on candidate recruitment. I downloaded the first one, and happened to be listening live to the second one. Talk radio? For job hunters? There is no end to the resources out there.

On the show, they were discussing why it is important/valuable/useful for HR people to notify unsuccessful candidates. I tweeted in a question about how the candidate should respond to such a phone call (see above re: awkward phone talker). All the panelists suggested using this as an opportunity to get feedback about your application. Yes, it is hard to stomach it, but the feedback system in the job hunt is pretty binary- you present poorly= no job offers, you present well = job offer. This is one time when you can actually ask someone how close you were and how you can improve for next time. Just stay professional.

While this wasn't precisely the conversation that was discussed on Views from the Top last week, I've been trying to stay in touch with the recruiters who will talk to me. Simply Biotech of San Diego is a great group- they have job postings on line and they actually get back in touch with you when you call or email. So I searched the job postings for something I thought I could do, mostly as an excuse to stay in touch, and called. We talked briefly about this position before I realized my guy was trying to talk me out of it gently. But rather than resume the above protocol, I tried to get some feedback. I told him I am looking for a job I can enter in as a PhD, and that is more important to me than the title or the pay scale. "Oh," he says, "well, actually... here is a job you might be interested in..." Sweet. I'm glad I didn't get off the phone at the first hint of rejection. Having spent the other part of the morning trying to track down another HR person with another company that is "hiring" it made me realize how valuable good recruiters can be for the overall strength of a community or organization.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I turned down a job offer

In this economy, it seems like a crime not to accept any reasonable job offer. The nation's unemployment is at 9.1%, so consider yourself lucky to be employed or haveing that olive branch extended to you. Right? We used to be counseled not to jump right on the first job offer that comes our way, but now, who knows when the next one is coming?

Well, I'll argue that with the unemployment rates for PhDs being closer to 2%, you have a lot more leverage than the general population. In fact, I'm willing to put out this argument strongly enough to turn down two offers for the wrong job. I mean, jumping through the hoops of the job hunt isn't fun, but I am doing it so I can get a job that helps me move ahead and advance my career. I'm willing to settle for positions that aren't my dream job, but they've gotta provide me more opportunity, new skills, or a step into a direction I am interested in going.

My reasons for turning down jobs?
1) They won't add anything new or helpful to my resume. It's fairly easy to pick up a semester of teaching if you are in the right place at the right time. But I have enough teaching experience to know that I'm not interested in being a professor, and probably enough teaching experience to make the case for being able to teach in other contexts (like training, or giving seminars or something). So what would teaching another semester do for me? Give me a job (a plus), but keep me on a semester long contract where I might be too busy to pursue opportunities outside the classroom (big minus). I opted to use my time to find a better match for my interests.

2) There's no way forward. I also turned down a job with poor pay, not just because of the poor pay, but because it wasn't clear that I could be promoted out of that position, or would be in a good geographical location to network my way into better positions. Like I said, I am willing to make compromises to reach my long term goals, but I still want to reach my long term goals.

I am looking for a career that I can be passionate about, no matter what direction it takes me. That's why I've committed so much time to it so far, so I really don't want to sell myself short or give up on the opportunity to get engaged in some meaningful work. I'm really hoping this gamble will pay off.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Reflections and instructions

While I was waiting at the auto-shop this morning, I had some time to reflect on my job hunt so far. I've had a couple insights- for one, job hunting is not like having a job, it requires different skills and a different perspective. I don't think these must be mutually exclusive, but I'm creating a completely different professional persona as a job hunter than the mousey science grad student that just defended that dissertation. Results can speak for themselves, my resume needs more help advertising.

Something about this advertising and self promotion makes me deeply uncomfortable. I'm not well versed in professional social interactions (or social interactions) so I worry I am going to really stuff this up somehow. But my second reflection was that I haven't yet. I haven't done anything really regrettable yet. Sure, I don't have a job yet, but I keep thinking I am trying more and more outrageous things, but so far none have backfired. I called an HR person! I posted my LinkedIn Profile on Twitter- I'm tweeting, for crying out loud! People return my calls and are happy to help me out. Maybe my sense of what is outrageous in a job hunt is finally approaching normal.

This does seem to affirm though that I have no natural sense for this. I still feel like I am fumbling in the dark, making phone calls, submitting resumes, rewriting cover letters and tweeting. I hope this activity will result in a job, but I mostly feel like I am inefficient and naive. Which is why I am always looking for advice- and is also why I will continue to do absolutely everything Steve Levy tells me do. It was his idea to put up the twitter feed. He told me to start sending tweets to my target companies- it worked on a little guy, why not Pfizer? He told me to join more groups and add people to my linked in network religiously.

My excitement to follow instructions in the job hunt is an indication of how unfocused I'm been, so here is my new plan. I'm going to start everyday with a plan. Next week, I'll be joining a couple other professional networks so I get get into some big LinkedIn groups, I'll be following up on one resume and with one recruiter and I am going to start looking for target companies using LinkedIn. I'm going to finish every day by achieving something- I always want to have an answer for "What are you doing now?" I've got two other balls up in the air right now, I am doing contract work editing chinese manuscripts, and I am volunteering at the Carnegie Science Center. I have goals for both of those, as well- dollar amounts for the editing work and to actually learn customer service at the science center. I like having goals.

But my other goal: I'm taking a break- a proper vacation. I've defended, I've entered the job market, I've learned tons, and just this week, I officially left my bench. When I was a girl scout, one of the survivalists we talked to told us if you are ever lost in the woods, make time to play. If you only worry about how you are going to survive, you'll wear down too quick to make it. Didn't your brownie troop get visited by survivalists? Next week, I'm a full-time job hunter, but this weekend I am going to celebrate graduating 22nd grade and the end of summer.