Recent studies reveal that less than 5% of Life Sciences PhD graduates chose an academic position or career path. The majority of PhD graduates end up pursuing a number of alternative career paths, such as science communication and policy. There are numerous blogs and articles that detail these choices and their pros and cons.
For many PhDs, skills acquired in the academy are not directly transferable to these alternative paths and can leave you struggling when pursuing other careers. I’ve identified here some ways in which researchers can supplement their academic training with simple, social media practices to enhance their alternative career options. Social media avenues are generally free and, if properly planned, not too time consuming.
Three benefits of social media for your career search:
Adding personality to your professional portfolio – Social media sites allow you to develop a professional portfolio that can be used for a variety of tasks, including job searches. These websites also allow you to document your thoughts and share content of interest to you, hence they can be used to express your personality in more detail than a standard CV or resume. LinkedIn is one useful resource for developing your professional portfolio.
- Community through forums – Scores of interesting discussions over a wide range of scientific topics take place every day. I find ‘Quora’ to be an interesting resources for career advice. For example, I recently read through the following thread on “how to become a data scientist” -. These discussions can offer practical, real-world advice and have definitely helped me expand my thinking as to how to approach my career search
- Research promotion – Social media sites are great avenues for promoting your research progress whether you plan to pursue an academic career or not. One added benefit is that funding for research is dependent on getting your message to the public and many funding agencies are demanding that research groups develop a strong social media presence.
A couple of places to start
There are myriad social media avenues available for one to pursue and it can be very time consuming to identify resources that are best suited to each person. For the absolute beginners, I find that Twitter and LinkedIn are two of the most used resources for professional development.
Twitter–Twitter already has a large number of scientific users, which include researchers, journal editors, and professional societies alongside users from a wide range of industries.
By carefully curating your Twitter feed, you can keep abreast of the issues important to you as well as the latest trends in your field. For example, being a biophysical chemist, I follow all the major journals in my field, so my Twitter feed is inundated with articles about the latest trends in chemistry & biophysics. One resource that I find useful in organizing my Twitter feed is TweetDeck an application that allows you to manage the display of your Twitter feed.
Tweetdeck also helps you follow tweets based on keywords’, I found that following the keyword #pharma helps me stay on top of the industry, including commercial information about the state of a company. This knowledge gives me a distinct advantage when applying to jobs at pharmaceutical companies.
LinkedIn–Beyond the basic networking and professional profile capabilities LinkedIn offers, the site has a great‘Jobs’ page that can give you information about the latest jobs in your field. However, one extremely useful feature of LinkedIn is that you can connect with the alumni of your university and seek advice from those working in your field of interest.
I hope these suggestions are useful as you look for a job. Which social media platforms do you use in your career search and how? Feel free to leave a comment below or tweet @WileyExchanges.
Siddarth Chandrasekaran belongs to Wiley Advisors. a group of early career researchers and professionals who serve as a voice for their communities. Visit the website to learn more.
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