What’s your best networking tip?

networkWhat’s your best networking tip? I will feature tips in an upcoming Lab Manager Magazine article on networking as a critical career tool. I would love to share your advice with other scientists and lab managers who are looking to advance their careers. Please post tips as a short comment below by Friday, July 10, along with your name, professional title and organization*. Selected tips will then be published in the article. I look forward to learning some great tips from all of you!

Self-Marketing Tip: Sharing Content with Your Network

Sharing regular content with your professional network is a quick and efficient way to increase your online presence, stay fresh in the minds of colleagues and establish yourself as a thought leader in your area of expertise. Content can be shared on social media platforms and discussion boards (e.g., LinkedIn), through your personal website, by direct email to a targeted list of contacts and via internal communication methods (e.g., company newsletter, internal website).

The content shared needs to add value to your network’s day and be in line with how you want people to view you professionally. This material may include recent articles on new discoveries in your field, thought-provoking editorials, upcoming funding opportunities and relevant job announcements. For example, if you are a climate change scientist you may want to post an article outlining new global carbon dioxide measurements; an editorial calling for policy changes needed to address rising carbon dioxide levels; a funding announcement for a new research program in your area; and/or a link to an open research position within your institution.

How much time should you spend in sharing content? I recommend developing a weekly routine that fits your schedule. My general guidelines are to spend 15–30 minutes a week to check your online profile(s) for completeness (e.g., updating publications); post a link to a relevant article; share a status update on a recent accomplishment (e.g., award); and/or connect with your network by congratulating colleagues or sending a private message to say hello. I also suggest spending the same amount of time in scanning discussion boards and popular media sites in your field to comment on other people’s shared content or to start your own discussion thread.

The biggest mistake that I see people make in sharing content is simply posting a link on a social media site without any added description. You have to put a little effort into this process by adding a short description of what people will read in the article, stating your opinion on the material and/or posing a question to engage your network in dialogue around the content. By adding this information, you will compel people to check out the information, which also leads to more visibility if they comment or share your post. Other common mistakes include posting status updates that openly ask your network for job leads and sharing chain posts (e.g., inspirational quotes) that distract from the focus of establishing yourself as a professional in your field.

Do you have questions on how to share content on LinkedIn or other sites? Use the comment box below or ask a question anonymously here.

Recap: #ECRchat on How to Develop a Career Exit Strategy

Twitter_logo_blueAs host of a recent live Twitter chat via #ECRchat on “How to Develop a Career Exit Strategy”, I challenged early-career researchers to think about the question, “What you would do if your research position would unexpectedly end in a few months?” In order to avoid panicking and taking the first position that comes your way, an exit career strategy can be deployed while refocusing efforts on your ultimate career goals.

A career exit strategy is defined as short-term career plan (one to two years) to maintain one’s professional life during a transition period. Most of the chat participants were interested in developing an exit strategy because their temporary research position was ending soon or their career goals were focused on academia where the number of open positions is limited.

We discussed a wide range of exit strategy options, including adjunct teaching, writing and consulting gigs. We further brainstormed on activities (e.g., taking online courses and volunteering) that could be done during transition periods to build skills and maintain a professional presence. Financial responsibility in keeping some savings tucked away as a buffer was also emphasized.

In the end, the take-home message was to always be prepared for a career transition, stay focused and keep moving forward. A summary of the Twitter chat can found in the Storify “How to Develop a Career Exit Strategy”. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@science_mentor) or contact me if you are interested in further chatting about this topic.

Career Insights: Quick guide to career fairs

Image credit: City of Marietta

Image credit: City of Marietta

My recent career insights article for ASBMB Today, the membership magazine of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, is now available online. Check out “Quick guide to career fairs” to learn how to make the most of in-person and virtual career fairs, featuring advice on how to find career fairs and a prep guide.

“You may be hesitant to attend a career fair if you are not formally in the job market, but I would encourage you to reconsider the value of these events for your personal career development. A career fair is an interactive way to assess the job market and build connections with future employers.” [Read the full article in ASBMB Today]

It May Pay to Track STEM Job Market Trends

Image credit: AGI (2014)

Image credit: AGI (2014)

Lately, a massive debate has been ongoing on the issue of whether there is a shortage of science and engineering graduates prepared for the labor market or if this is a complete myth. Overall, it looks like it depends on how you count your numbers to form a conclusion on the topic. One thing that does seem clear is that the number of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related jobs fluctuate with market demands, thus the need for skilled for workers in specific fields can change over time.

One current example may be the geosciences field based on a recent report from the American Geosciences Institute that concludes there are more geoscience job opportunities than students, especially students who have the quantitative skills that employers are seeking. Major energy challenges facing the global community may drive an increased need for geoscientists in the near future who are trained to locate ideal sites for tapping into energy reservoirs (e.g., hydraulic fracturing).

“Jobs requiring training in the geosciences continue to be lucrative and in-demand, according to a new report. Even with increased enrollment and graduation from geoscience programs, the data still project a shortage of around 135,000 geoscientists needed in the workforce by the end of the decade.” —AGI, 2014

This example demonstrates that it is important for students and STEM professionals to stay on top of the science and technology sectors that are hiring and to remain flexible in career goals. If you are thinking about a college major or a career change, it may pay to keep up with job market demands. Below are a few ideas on how you can track the current labor market trends.

1. The National Science Foundation publishes an annual Science & Engineering (S&E) indicators report on the status of STEM education in the U.S. You can find data on the number of degrees awarded by field and employer statistics.

2. The Occupational Outlook Handbook maintained by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a wealth of job forecast information from degree requirements, projected trends in job outlooks and information on related fields.

3. The O*NET Resource Center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor is an interactive application to explore a comprehensive collection of career paths, including job outlook information by state and salary. Increasing wages in a field can be a good indicator of positions that are in demand.

4. By scanning job boards and talking to employers at events such as career fairs, you can get a good sense of what fields are hiring and what might be the expected employment needs in the future.

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Source: American Geosciences Institute. “More geoscience job opportunities than students.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2014. .