If you haven’t heard by now, Bio Careers is holding the world’s first Virtual Job Summit for life science Master’s and PhD graduates starting in August. Job seekers will be able to meet with employers from a significant number of top training institutions in the U.S. It will be set up with virtual booths, “office hours,” and links to job listings on the Bio Careers job board. Employers will have video/text interviewing capabilities and be able to keep tabs on the job seekers who visit the booth to chat or download materials. I hope you’re already signed up for this amazing opportunity.
But here’s what I want you to focus on right now: Employers are going to take a hard look at job candidates during this summit, and make the decision to bring them in for face-to-face interviews based on the impression they get at that time. So, it is absolutely imperative that you are ready to present yourself as an outstanding candidate for these companies by the time the October live event rolls around.
The first thing you need to do is prepare for this event as much as you can. Find out all about these employers, using the virtual exhibit hall in August/September, and through other sources like LinkedIn and Google. You want to know about their mission, most significant advantages, biggest problems, company/lab culture, where they fit in the field, and what the trends are for the future. Develop your thoughts on various issues that impact the organization. This research will pay off in a big way for you in every aspect of the event and their perception of you as a candidate.
Have a clear and focused way to explain who you are and what you do. Sometimes that’s known as an “elevator pitch” (what you could say in the time it takes to ride the elevator). Not “salesy,” just descriptive and succinct. Your time is going to be limited when you talk to these employers, so you have to make the most of it. Let them know what you do and what you’re looking for. What you find out about each company will allow you to tailor your message to each one and make it that much more effective.
Remember that this opportunity is (for the employers) a weeding-out process. They’re looking at many, many candidates to decide who they want to spend some more time with. You could compare it to a phone interview, which is another weeding-out process. So, research phone interview tips, and pay attention to speaking smoothly and projecting enthusiasm while focusing on your main goal, which is to get to the next step: the face-to-face interview. (And when you’re video chatting, dress just as professionally as you would if you were meeting them in person—they will notice.)
Rehearse. Practice answering the typical questions you’ll be asked, check yourself out with a webcam to see how you’re coming across on-screen, and come up with a few questions of your own to ask to facilitate your discussion. At the very least, practice with a friend to perfect your technique, because it will help you appear both more confident and more competent. For the ultimate insurance, hire a career coach to role play with so that you can truly make the best impression possible as a candidate.
And, finally, follow up after your chats with appropriate thank you notes. Email them quickly, and attach your resume/CV. If you don’t get the email address in the discussion, you can do some Google research to figure it out. Your note should refer back to your discussion, and possibly add something else to it. Just keep it brief, be clear on your message (which is how you can benefit their organization), and indicate your desire to move to the next step, the face-to-face interview.