Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stuck in the box

Following some advice to reach out to diverse recruiters on LinkedIn, I found myself with a phone screen for a Project Manager position at a clinical software company.  (That experiment is currently 4 in 4 returned contacts- good sign, right?)  The recruiter was very nice, and gave me every opportunity to reveal where I had hidden several years of clinical experience or software development on my resume.  In the end, we both agreed it wasn't a great fit, and he suggested if I was serious about project management roles, I should look into getting my PMI- a certification for project managers.  I've heard mixed reviews on this- for starters, you need something like 3,000 hours of project management experience to be fully certified.  This WOULD be a great addition to your resume, but it's not something to whip out in my evenings and weekends.  The certification doesn't necessarily add anything to all that experience (that could be one 300 hour project that took 10 times too long), but it shows that you value that skill set enough to participate in this professional group. 

At the end of the interview, the recruiter said, "You know, I used to work at Amgen and Merck.  You would be perfect for a Molecular Biologist job at a place like that.  Have you thought about applying to those sorts of places?"  A-haha.  Have I thought about it?  Yes, that's in fact why this conversation started with me saying "I would like to transition my research experience to a more applied and clinical position."  Amgen doesn't need molecular biologists- they need immunologists, they need compliance officers, medical writers etc.  These are also jobs I think I could do, but people look at my resume and say, 'oh, you should continue doing what you used to do.'

This is one reason I've been working so hard to do other things to show that I am not a one-dimensional candidate.  I can write, I can communicate with different groups, I have some business savvy.  But people see Ph.D. at the top of the resume and not much more.  I don't want to oversell several months of contract work (I have been doing bench work for a decade- it's hard to ignore that's where my experience is), but how do I highlight that in a way that gives me some appeal to a non-traditional job?

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