In a sea of white lab coats, how can science and technology professionals get noticed? The answer is to develop a self-marketing plan — a strategy that showcases your professional accomplishments and expertise — that will put you at a competitive advantage in the shark tank of science.
Why do you need a self-marketing plan? As an early-career researcher, you may assume that everyone knows about your brand new paper, but research is so specialized that oftentimes only a few people will see your work and understand it. You also have a responsibility to show why your work is important and to translate the results to a broad audience.
Additionally, you have a personal priority of finding employment after you finish your education or post-graduate work. A majority of jobs are found by having a connection to the employer that can be made through networking and promoting yourself. Plus, recruiters and hiring managers are increasingly turning to websites like LinkedIn for recruiting efforts. Therefore, it pays to make your work visible and to maintain a good online presence.
Science Careers columnist Dave Jensen makes the analogy that your career needs to be run like a business, “Just like any product-driven company, you’ve got something to offer. You need to find a niche to sell it in, and package it just right.” This attitude allows you to take a strategic approach to your personal career planning.
Many companies and institutions have communications departments that recognize the value in promoting the work of their researchers. “Publicizing accomplishments can help researchers attract collaborators and recruit top talent as well as inform taxpayers and program managers of the return on their research investment,” says science writer Dawn Levy.
A first step in marketing yourself is to learn about the communication services offered through your employer, alumni associations and other institutions with whom you are associated. According to Levy, “Easy ways to promote your work include informing your institution’s news office when you win an award, when you’ll be delivering a talk at a scientific meeting, and when you’ve received notification that your journal article has been accepted.”
Communications experts can help you navigate the proper channels to promote your research. Future articles will follow-up on different techniques and tools for self-marketing.