for UW PCP

PostDoc Stories  (background, situation, emotions, solution, lesson)  and resources  (followed by a series of links to articles of interest to postdocs)   2012 webinar on leaving the bench (also see a list of other articles here on career path changes)  a blog on science bench problems   links to thoughtful articles on a variety of relevant topics (grad school, post docs, non-academic careers, professional issues, big picture and career management)

Some Useful Online Websites for Career and Job Search (free)

Job Hunter’s Bible  – for basic career-design information (classic Richard Bolles, who wrote the equally classic What Color Is Your Parachute?)

The Riley Guide  – for basic skill building in job hunt

Job-Hunt  – for articles and literally thousands of links to information on the job search, anywhere in the U.S.
Job-Hunt for Washington State Only
Dr. Kate Duttro’s articles on Careers for Academics on Job-Hunt

The Versatile Ph.D.  – for multiple forums on the topic of careers after (and before) the Ph.D., written and read by current students, post-docs and alumni of varing degree

UW Career Center Articles on Academic Careers   -for articles, relevant UW events and other resources relating to academic careers

UW Career Center Articles on Careers Beyond Academia    -for articles, relevant UW events and other resources relating to careers beyond academia

Jibber Jobber and Fresh Transition  – for two sites  that help you plan, organize and track your job search (and contacts)

Wordle   – for a new way (using Word Clouds) to check the match between your resume and job descriptions

Preptel   – for articles on Applicant Tracking Systems  (click Resources for articles)

 Visual CV  – for a career portfolio website that you can use to store and display your choice of your career materials

Tools for Self-Assessment

All of these tools are available to anyone. Cost ranges from free to low-cost, but it’s important to have have help to make sense of it, to see how insights can be applied to your own situation and what they mean to you as an individual.

UW Career Guide DS Exercise pages     The basic exercises on these pages can be used to draw out your Dependable Strengths, which in turn, give clues to one’s preferred ways of working.

VIA Survey    The (free) VIA Survey includes a listing of your Character Strengths. (The full 18-page report can be purchased for $20.)

Strengths Finder  Assessments    The code is accessed through several books by  Marcus Buckingham, Douglas Clifton and/or Tom Rath (Gallup organization)  Three of these books are:  Now, Discover your Strengths (Buckingham and Clifton), Go Put Your Strengths to Work (Buckingham) and Strengthsfinder 2.0 (Rath)

Reach Personal Branding Assessment    Another tool that may bring out important clues, in a very different way.  (Basic tool is free, but needs interpretation.)




How Long Does It Take To Get a Government Job?

I recently got this question and am sorry to tell you that the only possible answer is, “It depends.”

I have seen both extremes in the government hiring process (when I was a career counselor at a major university). The stereotype we hear is “about six months….” and it’s as good an answer as any – in general.

One extreme case I remember was a grad student in International Affairs, who was focusing on Eastern European Studies. He waited nearly three years for his state department job to come through. (That is, he was on the list of approved hires for that long, before a position actually came open!)  This was the longest waiting period I have heard of.

I also remember getting a call from a government agency hiring manager who was about to attend a campus career fair the next day, who wanted to me to alert the students in a particular discipline that her local agency office had just received a budget increase and they had to be able to hire three people within the next ten days, or they would lose the money.  That was the shortest government hiring period I ever heard of.

Here’s another situation I heard of occasionally (which is more common for entry-level jobs, especially those at bachelor degree levels). You can recognize these when you see a job listed as open, but there’s no application deadline. It usually means that an agency is simply collecting applications in anticipation of hiring a large number of people at the same time, with the same job title, but at different locations across the country. (I’ve seen them for the Forest Service and National Park Service, but many other agencies have multiple openings, too.)  Again, the actual date of hiring may depend on that agency’s budget, and they want to have a number of applicants in reserve when the budget increases, or in case the money comes through at the last minute. (Think congressional approval …..)

In some ways, you can look at the patience you may need while waiting for a government job as part of the criteria for being able to work happily in government – it is a bureaucracy, after all, with all the pros and cons that come along with it.

International Students Studying in the US Need to Know Early About H-1B Visas

Especially if you are in grad school in the US, it is in your best interest to know about how H-1B visas work, if you hope to work in the US for 1-2 years after you attain your degree. The number is capped and all the slots may be filled early in the year. Even if you plan to graduate in June, your job search should begin by January or earlier, to have a better chance for one of those visas.

If you are applying to a large business organization, check to see if they have H-1B visas available before you spend great effort applying. If not, go find another employer who will have or has H-1B visas for the year when you expect to graduate.

Note that few small U.S. businesses know about the H-1B visa process. If you find a small business that wants to hire you, you may have to help them get you through the process. (The more you know about it very early in your student career, the more you’ll be able to move through the process to get the outcome you want.)

Two important points to be aware of:

  • A limited number of H-1B visas are given annually – 85,000 this year, and only 20,000 are reserved for graduates of US universities
  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting H-1B applications in early April this year (for new employees to begin October 1), and all visas were gone by early June.

According to attorney Carl Shusterman, who specializes in recruiting issues, in an article in Recruiting Trends, “Of these 85,000 visas, 20,000 are reserved for persons in possession of an advanced degree from a university in the U.S. Last year, the 20,000 cap was reached on October 28, while the 65,000 cap was reached less than one month later on November 22. This year, all 85,000 visas were already exhausted in early June.”

Note that there are some exceptions to the H-1B rule, in that some kinds of organizations are exempt and can hire without the H-1B. This includes accredited public higher education institutions and their affiliated nonprofits, as well as research organizations (nonprofits and governmental).

However, in all cases, to get details that apply specifically to you, see your campus office that serves international students, and/or find an immigration attorney for clarification.

Is Your Resume Obsolete?

Our online identities are increasing in importance just as our resumes are declining.

This REALLY interesting article in the Wall Street Journal/Careers explains that more employers are going beyond resumes to source candidates for their positions.  It’s like a huge signpost pointing to the need for all of us to pay more attention to our professional online identity. Read No More Resumes, Say Some Firms and you’ll actually want to begin work on your LinkedIn profile – even Twittering, let alone updating your Facebook pages!

But beyond your online identity as a profile (which usually is a thinly veiled resume), how can you show up as interesting enough to an employer be found?  And valued?  The author, Rachel Emma Silverman, describes several creative ways that companies are using social media to find people they want, based on what they can see in their online activities.

What I see is that these creative employers are looking for candidates’ strengths that happen to match company needs.

(Full link to article – )

For more information on finding your own strengths, come back, I’ll be posting more on that soon.



for PSCDA, 4-7-2012


“Assessment” Tools for Discovering and Articulating Strengths   360 Reach Personal Branding assessment tool (Basic tool is free)   Dependable Strengths (self-assessments)  Clifton StrengthsFinder  (1.0 and 2.0)  Code accessed through several books by  Marcus Buckingham, Douglas Clifton and/or Tom Rath (Gallup organization)  Realise2 (Marketed as a strengths assessment AND development tool)  VIA Classification and Inventory of Strengths (Billed as the scientific study of character, and the “backbone” of the science of positive psychology”


Articles on (and Definitions of) Social Media and Job Search Techniques   (a search on Mashable for job search and social media 2012)  (pretty current)  Social Media and Job Search   Social recruiting and your job search,  by Alison Doyle  How to use social media in your job search,  by Alison Doyle


Top Social Networking Sites (and Articles, Reviews and Comparisons)    (April 2012)  2012 Social networking Website Comparisons article by Don Peppers


For more current, and very lively, discussions of job search, resume techniques, cover letters and anything job-search related, look at LinkedIn’s  Career Central Group – managed by Phil Rosenberg (an uber-connector, recruiter and prolific writer of inflammatory articles on related topics)   company has developed an ATS-look-alike computer process (called Resumeter) to “grade” resumes for “Fit” with a job description – claims that ATS determines the keywords and phrases used (for Resumeter™, sign up for 7 days free – normally $25/month after that)
…Articles of particular interest on the resources part of the site  “Technology: Foe or Friend?”
Information cited:
…At most companies, computers read your resume, not humans.
…About 75% of resumes are discarded for low word match..
…More than 20% of resumes have formatting issues (per machines).
…Only 1% of total applicants get an interview.
…worthy of a news flash: Today, most employers no longer share your résumé with hiring managers. Hiring managers receive a summary report generated by Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software that removes bias-causing problems, tracks EEOC compliance and performance, and supposedly levels the playing field across the applicant pool. Regardless of how your clients are getting into the company – friend, job board, recruiter, or online application – everyone goes through these ATS systems
….A survey of more than 300 biotech and health care job seekers showed only 20% knew the importance of keywords and the correct way to use them strategically in a résumé. About 80% knew the importance of doing pre-interview company research, but none of them thought about using that research to devise and derive keywords to use in their résumé.
— Quotes above from   by Jon Ciampi


Also see   Word Cloud tool


For continuing information on the topic later, see Seattle Career Trainer   ( )


Basics of Job Search, Resumes&CVs, Interviewing&Negotiating

Outline of talk to the grad students of the UW School of Pharmacy PORPP, May 6, 2011.  (Note: two additional pages of good information sources have been added, and if you were there and have further questions, please do feel free to call.)

Basics of Job Search, Resumes&CVs, Interviewing&Negotiating

Saving the “Academic Core”

Last month, I wrote “Why Academics Need a Career Plan B (And Maybe Plan C)” for Job-Hunt, and unfortunately, it’s already time to update it. The University of California-Berkeley emailed everyone on campus this week that 280 more jobs have been eliminated, beyond the 500 already cut from the system. (It should be noted that nearly half are retirements and “voluntary” separations, but the salient point is that those jobs no longer exist.)

Apparently these cuts had been planned even before Governor Jerry Brown proposed another $500 million in cuts to the UC system. (Newspaper articles have stated that no jobs being cut came from faculty or campus police positions, nor were undergrad student jobs eliminated.)

But these cuts are merely part of a longer series – with more to come. Late in September last year, five sports programs were also cut at UCBerkeley: baseball, men’s rugby, men’s and women’s gymnastics and women’s lacrosse – with an expectation of saving $4 million a year. In November, tuition was raised to $50,649 (including fees and room/board) for out-of-state students – and this is after Berkeley had raised tuition 30% for 2009.

So far, most of the cuts have affected staff positions, rather than faculty, police and mental health counselors, and I assume that most colleges and universities are trying to “save the academic core” of the institution (a phrase I first heard in a university email from the then-President of the University of Washington, yet another institution affected by cuts by the local state legislature – and anticipating more.)

But at some point, in some states, at some institutions, the cuts will go into the bone and faculty will find themselves on the block, too. Best to start checking out the alternatives….

(If you’re looking for more depressing news on this dismal topic, search the Internet for UC Berkeley job cuts 2011, or university layoffs 2011, or …you get the picture, right?)

Non-Academic Employment Trending Up

A survey by CareerBuilder, one of the larger career/recruiting companies, reveals “stronger employment trends” in 2011, and it is echoed by a number of positive employment reports in various local Business Journals (see below).

While the figures are not extraordinary, with only 24% of employers surveyed saying they plan to hire full-time, permanent employees in 2011, they are at least on the up side for a change. Only 13% anticipate hiring part-time employees, but 34% plan to hire temporary and/or contract workers.

The top 10 “functional” areas (across all industries) for hiring are, in order:  sales, information technology, customer service, engineering, technology, administrative, business development, marketing, research/development and accounting/finance.

More employers in the West plan to hire in 2011 than those in the Northeast, followed by those in the central US and South.

Here are some of the positive articles I’ve seen recently, thanks to the Business Journal regional editions.

Be of good cheer in the New Year!

Help Get Resumes Through The Filters

NCEEA-Trends in Resumes & Cov lts

This was actually a presentation for the NCEEA Conference in Seattle, WA, in April of 2010.

Lower Expectations of Higher Education?

In a blog post*  titled, “Some Higher Education Facts, Good and Bad,” Mike Mandel looks at the share of U.S. college grads with advanced degrees (rising to 35% by 2008), but he found that the percentage of doctoral degrees had decreased somewhat.  Looking a little farther, he found that the change in “real pay” to holders of doctorates had decreased (by 10%!!!!!) between 1999 and 2008.

Check out this graphic!

Furthermore, in the same time period, the real pay to those with professional degrees had decreased by approximately 3%.

The real pay of those with master’s degrees had increased by a mere not-quite 1% and those with bachelor’s degree had increased maybe a tad-bit more than 1%. (Despite what we’re told is a low current rate of inflation – that’s not much of an increase.)

And that’s not even counting what has happened to the economy since 2008.

In noting the decrease in percentage of PhDs being granted, he mentioned the “relative undesirability of the PhD.”  Uhhhmmm – it’s really hard to hear that phrase.  But, I guess I have to agree that advanced degrees seem not to be paying off in salary expectations – or, these days, in occupational stability either!

If these figures are accurate, here’s more reason to avoid incurring debt while you’re in grad school, even if you love being there. If you don’t love being there, but you’re accumulating debt because you expect to make big bucks in a stable job – is it maybe time to reconsider??

* Mike Mandel’s blog is at