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How To Enter A Field Different Than Your PhD Background (Cheeky Scientist Radio)


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Skip ahead to:

0:30 – TOP TIP: The Questions You Should Ask At An Interview
9:07 – Show Me the Data
27:41 – Presenting Yourself Authentically On LinkedIn w/Petra Fisher
48:47 – Medical Writing Careers w/Evguenia Alechine, Ph.D.

Do you feel limited by your PhD background?

Does your LinkedIn profile showcase you as an industry professional?

In this episode of Cheeky Scientist Radio, we are talking about how to get into a career that’s different than your PhD background. LinkedIn expert, Petra Fisher, will discuss how to present yourself as an industry professional before becoming one. Petra gives us strategies to make the best possible first impression with your LinkedIn profile. Plus we have on Evguenia Alechine, PhD who will discuss what it’s like to work as a medical writer.

About Our Guests

Petra Fisher is called “The LinkedIn Storytelling Wizard” by her clients and peers. Petra helps international professionals and entrepreneurs, establish a LinkedIn presence that naturally attracts their dream client or employer. Executives with an outstanding track record hire her to add their personality to LinkedIn. Entrepreneurs hire her to bring their employee past in line with their current focus.

Petra lives with her teenage daughter and big-fat-red-cat. She loves to travel to Thailand. She’s either got her nose in books or the laptop, out on a long walk or stuck into some crochet. The magic word is tea.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/petrafisher/

Evguenia Alechine did her Ph.D. in Biochemistry with a focus on human genetics at the University of Buenos Aires. From there, she gained valuable experience as a freelance editor, working with Cactus Communications, MogoEdit, ClearScience, and SelfHacked. Evguenia was also an Associate Editor at The Journal of the International Academy of Science, Humanities and Arts (JOSHA Journal). Evguenia then joined SelfHacked full time as Chief Scientific Editor.

Evguenia is currently working as freelance medical writer and editor, co-editor of EMWA’s Medical Writing journal and developing her science communication consulting business.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/evgueniaalechine/

Key Takeaways

1. Add personality to your LinkedIn profile so you can be sure to find a job where you fit with the company culture.

2. Highlight transferable skills, not past job titles or responsibilities, to make your LinkedIn profile future focused. 

3. If you have a passion for talk about science more than doing lab work explore the Medical Writing career path.

Your Online Presence Is Massively Influencing Your Job Search Success

A study published in the journal of New Media & Society found that there was a correlation between a high level of this professional information (aka professional success) and the amount that someone posted on LinkedIn.

It wasn’t necessarily just being active, on LinkedIn that was valuable, it was more about what people are producing and contributing to the platform. Those people who contributed more highly were more successful in this professional information area.

The study also found that having lots of strong and weak connections on LinkedIn increased your professional success. Only on LinkedIn, and not Facebook or Twitter, were these weak connections so valuable. A lot of people overlook this and they don’t realize that the weak connections really matter on LinkedIn. In fact your best chance of getting a job is actually through a weak connection versus a strong connection.

So you connections on LinkedIn are important, but what about your profiles? Are employers actually looking at your online profiles?

A recent CareerBuilder survey of more than 100 hiring managers and recruiters, found that YES your online presence is incredibly important. Just a few of the findings from the survey are below:

  • 57% of hiring managers and recruiters found content online that caused them not to hire a candidate
  • 47% of hiring managers and recruiters said that if they can’t find a candidate online they are less likely to hire them
  • 58% of hiring managers and recruiters are search candidates online to find information that supports their qualifications

It’s really important to be aware of what your online presence is. Once an employers has your resume, you’ve been referred, they want to hire you. They want to give you this job, and so they go online to look to make sure you have the right stuff. Make sure your profile impresses them and doesn’t send out any red flags that will land you in the reject pile. 

Presenting Yourself Authentically On LinkedIn: A Conversation With Petra Fisher

Isaiah: How can PhDs add more personality to their LinkedIn profile? 

Petra: As for your personality traits, they are very important, because if you project something you’re not you won’t be happy. If you’re a very formal person, you know, and you like being formal, you do well with a lot of formal people around you. But you’ve seen me, and you think, “Oh, that’s apparently how it goes.” And you start being really chatty and casual and all that, you’re going to be hired into a company where you’re miserable every single day, because you don’t fit in a company culture.

It is extremely important, and how you project your personality can be done in lots of ways. It’s your tone of voice, what kind of words do you use. 

If you go to my profile at the moment, I have done something that goes directly against everything I always recommend. My headline starts with, “Cranky Old Fuddy Duddy Claims To Know Shitloads About LinkedIn.” And then it has something more. But that shows personality, right? I got so many connection requests from people high up in corporate saying, “That headline just got me, and I had to read your profile.”

Think about two things. Who are you? What comes most natural to you? And what can you get away with in the company environment where you would like to work?

Once you find a balance between those two, you use that in all your writing, but you also use it in media you might want to add to your profile. If you’re going to add videos of yourself, think about it. Are they when you’re doing really formal presentations because that’s where you’re most comfortable, or do you want to add a little really casual ones. Videos where you’re making a cup of tea. You had this brainwave, and you had to record it straight away. It all shows your personality. So many different ways to add it there.

Isaiah: Now, we have a lot of PhDs who have the academic culture, the academic language displayed on their LinkedIn profile, how can they be more future facing on LinkedIn?

Petra: Yeah, great question. And this is my all-time favorite topic, because these days everywhere I go, I say, “Make sure your LinkedIn is fully future focused.”

I even have it on my t-shirt these days. See there we go. Make sure your LinkedIn is fully future focused because people tend to write about the past on LinkedIn. I did this, this, and that. And then I did that, that, and that. And that is boring. We can guess that from your job title.

What we want to look for are transferable skills, especially if you want to move out of academia into industry. If you’re getting too specific, too detailed, it will only make sense to the people you used to work with back then, not the ones where you’re going for.

You want to think of more generic skills. Think about collaboration, or big picture thinking, or offer detail on your communication skills. If you’ve done your research in a team, then you have collaboration skills, but maybe also leadership skills, all these kind of things.

But most importantly, the way you’re going to write it down, it’s always I say show me, don’t tell me. Don’t say, “I have great communication skills.” And make a typo in that sentence while you’re at it. That doesn’t tell me anything.

I want you to say by doing X, I achieved Y. So, you’re proving your skills. You’re showing how it was used. And again, do it in a way that I can understand it. If I can understand it, I don’t have a background like any of you, because I don’t come from academia, I don’t come from business, so if I can understand it, anyone can understand it.

Medical Writing Careers: A Conversation with Evguenia Alechine, Ph.D.

Isaiah: We have a lot of PhDs who are considering a different career than staying at the bench. So why did you choose medical writing?

Evguenia: Well, after my PhD, I was sure that I was passionate about science, I was passionate about discussing science, communicating science. But I didn’t want to stay at the bench and I didn’t want to stay in academia. So I left and I felt that communicating and helping others communicate their science was my thing. I was totally passionate about it, I was editing other people’s manuscripts during my PhD. And I love writing my papers and making presentations, for Congress, writing my papers, and that’s something that I really enjoyed.

I never hated the bench. When I was doing the writing and the communications part of the time, especially bringing science colloquia to the people and doing something more applied than just staying in the lab doing what was for me very small research that was not making an impact in the world. That was my way of contribution. I always wanted to make a difference in the world. And that was the way for me, communication is key. In every aspect of my life. And that was what made sense.

Isaiah: Now what did that industry transition process look like for you? We all have a story. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about that story.

Evguenia: Yeah, well actually my transition, my first transition, and this was before joining scientist, was quite a failed transition. I left academia, I left my PhD, and took the first job opportunity that I could. And I stayed in that job miserably for six months. That was how long it took me to realize that I was really miserable. And I was not valued as a PhD, everything that I could bring to the table was not valued at all.

After that, I had my career crisis where I didn’t know exactly what to do, and that’s where the idea of working in scientific communications came up. And I knew about the Association, actually, I knew about the Association because I met someone who was already in the Association, Jackie Johnson. She was my mentor, and she was also in the same industry that I wanted to get into. And she gave me the best advice, to join the Cheeky Scientist Association and to join specifically a medical writer’s association. And from that moment in my life, everything started falling into place. I realized that that was what I wanted to do. And then I actually gained the skills to know how to do it and how to reach my goals.

Isaiah: So what were those skills that you had to learn? And what were some of the biggest Aha moments during your transition into this specific career track.

Evguenia: Well I would say that for sure the biggest one was learning to network and to add value. And I wasn’t doing it at all before, but once I started, now I just love networking. I love talking to people. I love when people reach out to me with questions like, “Oh, I’m so inspired by you and your job, can you tell me more.” Yes, it’s just amazing and collaborations with people. I feel like that was the main thing. And for the most technical things, like having a good resume, a good LinkedIn profile that you can actually show to people, and will not embarrass yourself. For sure. But adding value was the key point for me.

Watch the full podcast episode above to get even more insight into personalizing your LinkedIn profile, finding a job that fits you well and learning more about what it’s like to work as a Medical Writer.

To get advanced access to the full length versions of these podcasts, as well as access to our live training webinars, exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the waitlist for the Cheeky Scientist Association now.

Isaiah Hankel Ph.D.

Isaiah Hankel Ph.D.

Isaiah is a Ph.D. in Anatomy & Cell Biology and internationally recognized Fortune 500 consultant. He is an expert in the biotechnology industry and specializes in helping people transition into cutting-edge career tracks.

Isaiah believes that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life right now, you should make a change. Don’t sit still and wait for the world to tell you what to do. Start a new project. Build your own business. Take action. Experimentation is the best teacher.
Isaiah Hankel Ph.D.