“Industry Experience Preferred (or required)”

Looking for that first industry job can be daunting–even scary. What do you want to do? Where will you fit in? What are you qualified for? As you pour over job ads you’ll find some that you think fit you perfectly! Scrolling through the list of qualifications, you get more and more confident–this could be the start of your career in industry! The excitement builds, and then…you read, “INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE PREFERRED” or worse, “INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE REQUIRED.”

You see those words in so many job postings that it is crushing your hopes of ever getting your career started! Do not despair. I routinely compile a list of “no industry experience required” jobs. They do exist! (See the link below for this month’s postings.)

But why do so many jobs want prior industry experience?

The truth is that doing science in industry is different than doing it in academia, government, or private research institutions. For starters, not every scientist will be the good “fit” for industry. Likely, you have encountered some professors or lab heads who act more like tyrants than mentors. Big egos and dictatorial personalities do not work well in industry.

If you’ve done a postdoc, you probably learned how to be an independent scientist–forged your own project, took it from idea to experiment to conclusions, learned new techniques and approaches. You may have even secured the funding for that project yourself! This was your project; you came up with it, you researched it, you nurtured it, you loved it, and it was yours. Maybe you collaborated with others, but you established that independent project and its success or failure was on you.

But in industry, that’s not how it works. Projects are more team based. You only contribute to a part of the bigger picture, and others do their part. “We are smarter together” is the mantra. Being in a team can be quite satisfying to the right scientist, but it requires good social skills—something not taught in scientific discovery.

Another difference between academia and industry is that when you start your first industry job you will not be in charge of your research. Direction will come from more senior management. You may love your project–even discover the greatest cure ever–but it could be dropped at any time for reasons you may not know, like, or even understand. Discovery in life science is competitive, time consuming, and expensive, so when a business decision is made to kill a program, you have to be able to move on quickly. Not everyone adapts.

You also are out of the “publish or perish” race. In fact, you may not even be allowed to publish on active programs. You will have to learn to measure your success in other ways. Making contributions to advancing the programs and being a team player are what matter in industry.

You can see that academic and industry cultures are very different. The skills you learned earlier–following a project from beginning to end, sticking with it even if it isn’t immediately fruitful, working independently, and maybe even guarding your data from others–aren’t useful skills in a team environment.

Why do so many ads say, “Industry experience preferred (or required)?” Because companies are afraid of making bad hires. And hiring an academic for their first industry job is a risk.

Generally, it takes a person about a year to adjust to this team oriented, profit-driven culture. Some never do. Candidates who have already been through the “learning curve” and adjusted are less of a risk.

Don’t give up hope!

Yet every scientist in industry came out of academia. So how do you make that transition?

The first step is to ditch the CV for a resume that is results-oriented and industry-friendly—one that highlights productivity and other important industry characteristics. ScientificResumes.com was launched by industry scientists, hiring managers, and scientific recruiters, all of whom know how to make that transition. You get the tools you need to write a resume that is better received by a hiring manager.

The unique P.R.E. Resume Worksheet® will help you make your resume more relevant and more appropriate for scientific industry positions. AND, because it is less academic and more reflective of industry interests, it will better overcome a hiring manager’s fear of hiring you right out of academia.

You will even have an option to have a team of industry experts professionally review your resume and return it with comments.

Invest in yourself and let the experts at www.ScientificResumes.com help you get started on your industry career today. Send me a LinkedIn invitation as a Friend and request a 10% discount code. When your new resume is ready, see my recent Excel list or PDF of industry positions that are looking for a scientist just like you. (Remember that an industry postdoc will count later as industry experience!)

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