Oct 2021 Circuit

Strategize your job search with Dr. Tracy Costello

Date: Thursday, October 21; 6:00 – 7:30 PM (CDT)

Location: Zoom (online platform)

Speakers: Dr. Tracy Costello, PhD, career coach and professional development trainer for PhDs (www.coach4postdocs.com) and the executive coach for STEMPeers’ Gurukool networking and professional development platform.

Dr. Tracy Costello organized this talk around the 10-step career model she has developed during her career. Each step is identified and described below.

  1. Self-Assessment: Understand how your skill set, interests and values, and available career opportunities intersect. This identifies potential career paths to pursue in which you would be successful and fulfilled.
  1. Research Potential Career Paths: Identify what careers are available to you given your background (academic degrees and/or work experience), your interests, and your skills. Narrow options down to what you *can* do and what you are *want* to do.
  1. Networking = Relationship Building: Find out who you are connected to, and who they are connected to — this is your network! This may include previous and potential colleagues/bosses, special interest groups, volunteer organizations, mentors, alumni groups, and family and friends. Remember — coffee (even virtually) is a great, laid-back networking option that works at any career stage and in any field.
  1. Informational Interviews: Reach out to connections in the network identified in Step 3. Digital connections are made more effective with language that includes mutual friend/colleague, similar experience or school, or a concise and tangible request. Make sure to ask questions about their current job that can help you prepare for a s similar career, such as (1) what did you learn in school that you use in your current job, or (2) what do you wish you learned that you use currently.
  1. Identify Transferable Skills and Skill Gaps: Make sure to consider technical skills (ie. skills specific to the everyday tasks of your current degree, field, or job) as well as “soft” skills (ie. skills that are transferable such as leadership, mentoring, and collaboration). Identify where you have a gap in your skill set and would like to develop further.
  1. Learn New Skills: Spend time developing and expanding upon skills where you have identified a gap in Step 5. Use your resources (via institution, local services, and your network) to participate in seminars, workshops, courses, or even one-on-one mentoring to develop these skills.
  1. Identify Potential Positions: A job advertisement or open position posting generally includes both technical and non-technical skills required for the position. Look at the technical skills first, and if you meet all of them, then look at the non-technical skills. Highlighting words on the job description can be helpful in understanding what the position will entail. Creating a word cloud from a job description can also be helpful.
  1. Prepare and Submit Application Materials: It is important to note that the application is generally parsed by keywords on the resume, then is sent to the HR department, which is then sent to the hiring manager who decides whether you will receive an interview. Only 5-6 seconds are spent on each resume, so it is critical to emphasize in a concise but clear manner the most important parts of your past experience and education that make you a good candidate for the position.
  1. Interviews: Make sure to consider the environment (in-person versus phone versus Zoom/Skype), and the appropriate dress and setting for each type of interview. Be prepared — have the job advertisement, your resume, and potential questions on hand. Speak slowly and clearly, and emphasize your skills and strengths. Remember, interviews should be a *conversation* not an interrogation.
  1. Negotiation: If you have an offer, they want you — don’t be afraid to ask for things that are important to you! Make sure to justify why you are asking for each thing. Some potential things to negotiate for: salary, relocation package, benefits, hours in office, remote working option, paid time off.

Written by:
Divya Joshi
PhD Candidate
Northwestern University