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Searching for Employment in an Unstable Job Market


9/26/2011 10:00:40 PM

By Angela Rose, BioSpace.com

Is the job market still unstable? Data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in early August 2011 makes a statement to the contrary. Unemployment was holding steady at 9.1 percent, with little change in that rate since April. While fewer unemployed professionals would be preferred (there were about 14.0 million in August), a level unemployment rate would seem to indicate that the worst is over. Or is it?

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently lowered its prediction for global growth. It also sharply reduced the rate of 2011 economic growth it had forecast for the United States to 1.5% (down from a forecast of 2.5% in June). The fund predicts little improvement through 2012.

The bottom line: we’re living in difficult economic times. It’s a reality to which all biotechnology job seekers must adapt. Those who adapt efficiently –by using their time wisely, utilizing all the resources at their disposal and standing out from other applicants– may even thrive. If you want to be among these job winners, consider the following suggestions.

Don’t apply for jobs for which you are unqualified. If you don’t have the 10 years of QA experience asked for in the Director of Quality Validation job posting, don’t submit your resume hoping you’ll get an interview. You should also avoid wasting time applying for jobs you don’t actually want. You’ll be spinning your wheels and irritating overburdened human resource professionals and hiring managers who already have to sift through dozens (if not hundreds) of resumes in order to separate the true candidates from the spammers. It’s better to spend that time applying for fewer jobs using targeted resumes and cover letters.

Don’t rely on one job search method. You have many resources at your disposal, so use them. This includes searching job boards, approaching companies of interest (whether they’ve posted jobs or not), perusing the help wanted ads, consulting with recruiters and working your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Some companies fill positions wholly by referral, so make time for professional groups and other face-to-face networking events as well.

Don’t send out generic cover letters and resumes. Modify them for each potential job. Your cover letter should speak specifically to what you can do for the company in question. Your resume should contain as many cold, hard numbers as possible. For example, if you were in charge of a drug research project, completed it 3 weeks earlier than expected, and created the opportunity for $500K in new sales, put that on your resume. Or perhaps you managed a team of 15 scientists while increasing department productivity by 30 percent. Numbers, while not romantic, speak loudly of your accomplishments.

Don’t go into an interview unprepared. Find out everything you can about the company beforehand. Take the time to formulate questions to ask the interviewer in order to demonstrate your knowledge. Practice answering typical interview questions as well. If you think you may be asked something difficult (such as “why have you been out of work for x months”), now is the time to craft an expert answer.

Whatever you do, don’t become discouraged. Finding a position in an unstable job market takes time; it’s not an overnight journey. If you’re rejected, gather your arsenal and move on. Times are tough for everyone, but your time will come again.

About the Author

Angela Rose researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.

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