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.


  1. Is there a person who has graduated from a bio lab that hasn't run endless SDS-PAGE? I've not met them. That is like assuming you don't know how to use a computer because you didn't specifically claim it. How is he supposed to find the best job candidate if he doesn't really understand what goes on in a bio lab? Or evaluate if you really do know SDS-PAGE if he doesn't know how protein purification works?

  2. No, I agree Patrick. It worries me that my big hurdle in finding a job will be learning to communicate about my skills with these recruiters by trial and error (and more error). He can't seem to explain what he is looking for, and I can't seem to describe what I can do- no wonder this is taking so long.