Dec 1, 2020 | Atlanta, GA
Article by Autumn Siebold
Covid-19 has driven a lot of things we do almost entirely online — including the job search process. But, have you adjusted your search strategies to reflect this new reality?
“Now more than ever before, postdocs need to be more strategic when it comes to searching for a job,” said Clarence Anthony Jr., the assistant director of graduate career development at the Career Center. “For example, I often see graduate students and postdocs apply to many jobs believing that simply submitting applications without tailoring their materials will lead to success. Right now, this isn’t wise because applicant pools will be full of generic resumes and cover letters, so they won’t stand out. It’s better to do things like attend career fairs, network through LinkedIn and professional organizations, and get involved with mentoring programs.”
As you’re on the hunt for a job, keep the following tips from Anthony and the Career Center’s graduate career advisors in mind:
- Find target organizations. One way to ensure quality over quantity is finding what Graduate Career Advisor Robbie Ouzts calls “target businesses.” “Have a list of criteria in mind when looking at different industries that includes things like the size of the company or where it’s located,” Ouzts said. “That way, you can create a more specific elevator pitch for the businesses you like and manage your time better.”
- Prepare your pitch. When introducing yourself to a recruiter or interviewer, keeping your summary relevant is key. That’s why Anthony recommends making an elevator pitch tailored to your top companies. “Your elevator pitch should be a short, conversational summary of your skills and career goals,” Anthony said. “Include information that shows you’ve researched the company, kept up with their news, and read the job postings.”
- Treat it like a research study. Casey Hampton, another graduate career advisor, suggests researching different careers and paring down your options like you would a research topic. “You can work more efficiently by blocking out time to work on the job search like a project, tracking what jobs you research as you go, and asking friends or advisors for help if you need it,” Hampton said.
- Use your network. “With fewer opportunities to meet new contacts, now is the time to rely on people you already know,” Ouzts said. “Talking to your advisors, the people you work or study with, or the 4 Fs — friends, family, friends of family, and family of friends — can help you find new opportunities.”
- Maximize your experience. If you’re still limited on job experience, consider the value of your volunteer roles. “Don’t forget professional organizations and volunteer activities you’ve been involved in,” Anthony said. “You can gain project management and teamwork skills in doing these things, and those skills are valuable.” Find ways to mention these experiences in things like cover letters and during conversations.
- Explore different paths. “It can be easy to get tunnel vision and focus on one industry,” Hampton said. “Jobs seem fewer and further between, and you may try to go for the jobs you know you’re qualified for — even if you’re not really interested. Don’t be afraid to explore jobs that don’t exactly fit your discipline. You may find something you’re passionate about.”
- Establish your brand. “Make sure the interests and skills you’re displaying on LinkedIn and social media match the jobs you want,” Hampton said. “You want a consistent image of who you are and what you’re about, so employers know you’ll be a good fit based on more than just work experience.” Usually, the skills and interests you’ll want to show off will be directly related. For example, if you’re hoping to work in UI/UX design, be sure to include your coding and interaction design skills on your skills list.
For more advice on your career search:
- Postdocs interested in a broad spectrum of career paths are welcome to make appointments with the graduate career advisors via email.
- Postdocs applying specifically to academic jobs can schedule a consultation with Center for Teaching and Learning faculty.