Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist
Image of Isaiah Hankel sitting in armchair

Join Isaiah as he discusses the strategy you should set up before going to a conference if you want to get an industry job

Here’s a quick rundown of this week’s episode…

  • First, Isaiah explains why you should skip the talks and spend time at the vendor’s floor if you want to increase your chances of transitioning into industry
  • Next, Isaiah reviews the information you need to research before going to the conference
  • Finally, Isaiah gives you pointers on the best way to network with vendors

From This Week’s Show… 

The Best Way To Find And industry Job At A Conference Is To Spend Quality Time At The Vendor Floor

If you want to find industry job prospects at a conference, you have to stop acting like an academic. We get it – you love research.

But if your conferences strategy is to hit as many research-based talks as possible, then you’re not making the most of your time (or your money for that matter – conferences are expensive).

So, skip the talks and spend your time perusing the vendor floor. Why? Because while all your colleagues are sitting in a dark room listening to a presentation, you’ll be conversing and making connections with the industry players that are there to promote their company and its products.

Talking to a vendor during a lunch or coffee break is nearly impossible – that’s when every other PhD who desperately wants a job is there. Not to mention that these are the vendors’ peak times for selling products and recruiting new customers.

So, breaks are not the time to ask them about job prospects – that’s not why they’re there. If you speak with vendors during the quiet times, they’ll be more relaxed, less distracted, and more apt to speak to you.

What You Need To Know Before The Conference

Before you go to the conference, research the industry players who will be there. Some of the vendors may even announce online which employees they’re sending to the conference.

If you can’t find this information, reach out and ask – they may be willing to share it. Once you know which employees they’re sending, research them as well.

Find out what position they’re in and what their research background, if any, is.

How To Interact With Vendors

When approaching a vendor, it’s important to limit self-talk. Nothing will make a person shut down faster than a PhD or PhD student coming up to them and immediately asking for a job.

To keep them from running in the other direction, first ask about their product or service. Ask about them personally – what their job is, how they like it.

The idea is to give attention, elevate their credibility, and to be genuinely interested. If you’re faking anything they’ll be able to pick up on your charades.

Be sure to emphasize your status as an industry novice and/or student – even if you’re a professor, in a postdoc position, or are doing a TA-ship – if they see you as a novice or student that lacks industry experience, they may be more candid with you. This is because they won’t see you as a threat.

Another good tactic is to invoke social proof and even a bit jealousy. Don’t speak to just one vendor and call it a day. Even if you’re not interested in a company – talk to them. A funny thing happens when you start to network. It makes you look more desirable.

At one conference, I actually had someone from a company I was interested in come and find me after seeing me speaking to other vendors. We started talking again and the next day I had lunch with the company’s President! So, believe me, it works!

The last sage advice I have for you is to make sure you follow up with vendors with same-day emails. Make it as easy on them as possible. Remind them of who you are and what you talked about.

Companies use the LinkedIn Recruiter platform to fill positions using three main search fields: job title, location, and skills.

Non-PhD hiring managers are not expert researchers. They’re only searching these 3 search fields the majority of the time. So, if your profile doesn’t include these terms, you’ll be completely invisible to hiring managers.

Another trick is to present yourself as the employee you want to be, not the one that you are. This is particularly important for those of you who are transitioning from academia.

Show employers that you’re a professional – not a student or lifetime academic – starting with your profile picture.

Replace the photo of you next to a bookcase, at a desk, or in lab coat with one of you wearing business attire. If you want to be an industry professional, you have to start looking like one.

The same applies to your text. Eliminate academic titles like “PhD Student”, “TA”, “Professor” “Postdoc”, or “Fellow”, and avoid technical or specialty jargon – no company is searching these academic terms.

Why You Should Take Advantage of The “Open For Work” Feature

Another cool LinkedIn feature is the “open for work” function. Below the profile headline, there’s a selection that indicates to employers that you’re seeking work.

You can also specify your desired location – including remote work – and add a brief message that will be visible to hiring managers.

Turn this on and your profile will start appearing higher up in search results. In fact, if you don’t turn this on, you’ll be completely invisible on LinkedIn’s employer platforms.

Always keep your profile up-to-date and remain active in your LinkedIn feed. By consistently interacting with the community, and maintaining a current profile, you’ll create an online persona that will help you reach the top of any employer’s search results.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

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