SIAM News Blog

Stand Out in the Industry Job-Hunting Process and Optimize Your Career Potential

Attend the Professional Development Evening on Thursday, July 12th at AN18

By Di Ye

On average, any given job receives 118 applications. However, only 20 percent of applicants are granted an interview. With the number of graduating Ph.D. students exceeding the number of available academic employment opportunities fivefold, the job market is certainly competitive.

Landing a rewarding job requires both technical competency and a spectrum of soft skills, including self-confidence and awareness, career adaptability, resilience, communication, empathy and relationship-building, professionalism, time management, and emotional regulation. These skills account for up to 80 percent of career success, but are often underdeveloped in today’s college graduates.

Recognizing the need to better equip graduate students to secure industry jobs, SIAM has partnered with Zhennovate, a talent development company that specializes in helping science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students and working professionals achieve their career and leadership goals. Together, they will provide a hands-on learning opportunity for the industry job-hunting process at the Professional Development Evening, to be held on Thursday, July 12th during the 2018 SIAM Annual Meeting (AN18).

In anticipation of the event, let us examine the reality of the job market and review some tips to maximize career potential.

#1: Adapt with Self-awareness and a Growth Mindset

Take command of the job-hunting process by identifying jobs that would be fulfilling to you. Many exciting opportunities exist beyond academia in private industries, nonprofit settings, and public service sectors. The ability to adapt to a new career is fundamental to navigating today’s rapidly-changing economy. Only 25 percent of college graduates work in an occupation related to their major. The other 75 percent must learn to quickly adjust to a new field, a new set of skills, and a new network of people. To keep up with these changes, learn to thrive on challenges and embrace setbacks as a springboard for personal growth.

#2: Build Your Support Network Beyond Academia

In reality, at least 70 percent of available job openings are not published, and about 50 percent of employment at top companies comes through referrals. Referred candidates are twice as likely to land an interview and have a better chance of being hired. If you want an industry job, connecting with industry insiders is imperative. Effective networking is never transactional, but rather an authentic relationship-building process.

In addition to a professional network of peers, a support network—a group of people who believe in you, challenge you to grow, and introduce new possibilities—is essential to success. Coaching can be a complementary and equally-important part of your support network. Professional coaches are human behavior experts who help deepen self-awareness, overcome limiting beliefs, and cultivate constructive mental and behavioral habits. Once reserved only for senior executives, coaching is now leveraged by high-potential professionals as a proven strategy for soft skills development.

#3: Identify and Effectively Communicate Your Value

Effectively communicating your value is essential to securing new opportunities, including funding your research proposal, earning a promotion, establishing a collaboration, or landing a great job. The mindset and priorities of industry-based careers vary from those of academia. In industry, relevant skills and experiences are more important than academic credentials. Many applicants set themselves up for failure by applying to an industry job with a CV, which lists academic accreditations instead of background and competencies.

The application materials and workflow necessary for success in industry differ from academic requirements. An elevator pitch to articulate your skills and career objectives for networking occasions, a resume tailored to the job rather than a general CV, and a set of compelling stories to illustrate how your experiences fit the needs of the employer are good starting points.

#4: Begin Your Search Early

On average, applicants spend anywhere from two to eight months seeking an industry position. The earlier you start preparing, the better positioned you are. Those who are desperate to find a job quickly have a harder time managing their emotional stress, and desperation drives employers away. Give yourself some breathing room rather than waiting until the last minute.

About the Professional Development Evening

Drawing on the domain knowledge and experiences of hiring managers, industry and academia insiders, and career and leadership coaches, Zhennovate has developed two workshops for the Professional Development Evening at AN18. These workshops are best suited for graduate students, postdocs, and other early-career professionals interested in introductory preparation for entering the industry job market.

Workshop A: How to Build a Strong Support Network
Networking is essential to finding job opportunities, establishing collaborations, and building support. Attendees will learn how to do the following: 
  • Strategically plan and build their support network
  • Conduct informational interviews
  • Network for meaningful relationships
  • Network for job opportunities at conferences, career fairs, and beyond.

Workshop B: How to Develop a Winning Application for Industry Jobs
Via a hands-on walk-through of the industry job application process, attendees will practice the subsequent techniques: 

  • Interpreting job descriptions to guide their application process
  • Framing their experiences and skills from graduate school as valuable assets to potential employers
  • Preparing documents for career fairs and job applications
  • Preparing for job interviews in industry.

The workshops, which I will lead, have 50 available spots. A separate application is required for workshop participation, and graduate students and postdocs are encouraged to apply. To apply, please indicate your interest in the Professional Development Evening when you register for AN18. All interested candidates will then receive application instructions via email in mid-June and be notified of admission status on July 1st. If you neglected to specify your interest in the Professional Development Evening when registering for AN18, you may contact Kimberly Haines at [email protected] before application closes on June 25th.

Di Ye is a professional trainer and certified coach at Zhennovate, where she provides high-performance training and 1:1 coaching to clients from various institutions, such as Oracle, Boeing, Microsoft, the University of Washington, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She graduated from MIT with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science, and has industry experience at Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Seagate and research experience with the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Harvard Medical School.

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