DOTS Model blended with Planned Happenstance theory, illustrating the need for a combination of structure and flexibility in the career planning process (reprinted from Blackford, 2013 “Career planning for research bioscientists”).
Sunday, 3 August 2014
Sunday, 6 July 2014
|See the powerpoint slides from my 'Job seeking strategies' session|
Monday, 16 June 2014
|Dr Carmen Gervais (HFSP) tutoring |
on a SEB funding workshop
Career services and support
Education, policy and career meetings
NPA postdoctoral core competencies toolkit
Vitae RDF planner
Friday, 30 May 2014
difference between an Advanced Research Assistant, a Research Fellow, a
Research scientist and a Research Assistant? These are four job titles I picked
up from various sources on the internet recently. The first was a lab-based
technician post in a company, with no PhD required; the second was a university
postdoctoral position, stipulating a PhD, whilst the third, also based in a
university, stated that a PhD would be desirable, but not essential. The fourth
post turned out to be a ‘policy and research’ position with a social science
organisation. They were seeking someone with an interest in research as well as
experience of qualitative and quantitative research methods. All posts were also
asking for a variety of accompanying personal skills and offering different
1. Determine where your career interests lie. Don’t identify yourself solely with your subject or research discipline. Discover what you’re good at, and what you enjoy in terms of your interests, skills and personality. For some, career choice may be influenced by personal factors such as location and family commitments.
2. Different careers have different entry requirements. For example, some require specific qualifications, some will train you ‘on the job’, whilst others look for relevant experience, gained through previous posts or by volunteering. If you keep falling short of the requirements specified in the job description, it may be time to try to fill these gaps in your CV by doing some professional career development.
3. Access to different careers varies. Many governmental and public sector posts are advertised at particular times of the year, for example those in the European Commission and the UK’s NHS scientist training programme. Applications open and close on specified dates, after which there is a lengthy assessment and interview procedure. Large multinational companies often attend university careers events because they are looking for lots of students of any degree discipline or qualification to join their management training programmes. Careers requiring specialist qualifications and skills aren’t usually on offer at career fairs. For these, your best strategy is to find specialised websites, discussion groups and recruitment companies who advertise jobs in these areas.
4. Networking is paramount! The majority of jobs are not advertised and are found by word of mouth or by ‘chance’. Make use of all your contacts but generate dozens more by joining social media for professional purposes. This may mean generating a new Facebook or Twitter account to present yourself more professionally. LinkedIn is a great place for finding businesses and researching and linking with people working in industries of interest to you. If you use search words on these sites you’ll be surprised at the number of jobs that pop up. Target organisations and professional bodies who may also be promoting opportunities, and joining LinkedIn groups is a useful way to find out about more specialist career areas. For those interested in academic research careers, Researchgate and Mendeley will be more appropriate networking platforms.
5. Start early. The more research you do on potential future careers of interest, the better prepared you will be when the time comes for you to make your applications. As professional researchers, you’ve developed excellent research skills, so put them to good use and be creative in your job search. Be bold and brave; if someone you approach for information or to enquire about opportunities ignores or is rude to you, move on – there are plenty more people to ask, who will be generous and helpful.
Monday, 5 May 2014
Some of the many career options in industry
Research and Development
Medicine and medical affairs
Drug regulatory affairs
Medical science liaison
Marketing and sales
Monday, 24 March 2014
1. Purpose – Keep in mind the purpose of an interview, which is for the employer to find out more about you and vice versa. Meeting you in person will allow him/her to see how well you communicate and whether you will fit into the team/organisation.
2. Plan – Review the job description, company/research group and personal requirements. Find out the details of the interview location and set-up. This should have been specified in your interview letter but, if not, contact the organisation to ask how long the interview will be and who will be on the interview panel. If there is a presentation, who will be in the audience? This will help you to make the content of your answers and/or presentation relevant.
3. Prepare – You are bound to be asked to clarify or expand on much of the content of your application/CV so make sure you can give examples relevant to the employer and bring the content to life. Think of one or two brief questions to ask the interviewer (but don’t ask about salary until you’ve been offered the job!).
4. Predict – As with an exam you can probably predict many of the questions you are likely to be asked. Put yourself in the shoes of the employer and imagine what you would want to know from the applicant. As well as detailed technical questions (depending on the job), they are likely to ask you open-ended questions. For example:
• Why do you want this job?
• What can you bring to the organisation?
• Tell me about any challenges you encountered during your PhD/research? How did you deal with them? What was the outcome?
• (For more senior research posts) If you had a grant of €5million, what would you want to spend it on? (Eg What big ideas do you have in your mind in terms of this research area?).
5. Practice – Try to set up a mock interview or just practice saying some of your predicted answers out loud to yourself. This will help you to familiarise yourself with your evidence and identify any gaps or weak areas in your performance which you can work on a bit more.
6. Perform - Good body language and eye contact is essential to make a good impression. Dress to impress (at the same level of formality as the interview panel) and don’t forget that how you say what you say – the tone and assuredness of your voice – is as important as what you say.
7. Persist – Using these ‘rules’ you should be able to optimise your chances for a successful outcome to your interview. However, if you are turned down don’t take it personally. Ask for feedback, review your performance, move on and persist with your applications – imagine and believe in your ultimate success!
Tips on body language infographic
Thursday, 27 February 2014
The reason I say this is that when you look at advertised tenured academic positions, being able to demonstrate independent and innovative thinking is a one of the essential application criteria (usually articulated along the lines of ‘an established or growing international reputation’, ‘proven ability to secure research funding’ or ‘a consistent track record of quality publications’). The university faculty needs to keep moving forward and, ideally, wants to be leading the field in its key areas of research. If you can show that you are an independent innovative thinker, who is prepared to move out from the shadow of your supervisor and take your research in new directions you will stand out from the crowd. Your list of publications may be impressive, but are you ready to be the person whose name is listed last, can you take on the role of corresponding author, will you be able to submit successful funding applications, demonstrating that you're re-positioning your research away from that of your current professor? Securing an independent research fellowship early in your career will allow you to shape your research interests to prepare you more readily for this transition. Alternatively, your postdoctoral position may have uncovered a niche of expertise, away from that of your supervisor, which you feel confident to pursue at the leadership level.
So, referring back to the start of this blog, two key activities that will almost certainly help lead you towards independence are the cultivation of people and ideas.
SEB president's medallists 2012
SEB president's medallists 2011
SEB president's medallists 2009