SciPhD’s 3-Day Business of Science Webinar Series Focuses on the essential knowledge academic scientists need to find, apply for, and land their first real job.  This series of articles relates the webinar course content to five aspects of preparing for your professional career.

Day 1: Critical Skills- The Key to SciPhD’s Get A Job Philosophy

Anyone who follows SciPhD or has attended any of our on-site or online training programs for scientists knows our mantra-  You are more than your science.  You have three identities:

  • Your science/technical identity (what you do)
  • Your business identity (how you do it)
  • Your social identity (how you work with others)

Getting a leg up on your competition when you set out to get a job requires your ability to demonstrate all three of these identities with accomplishments.  Learn to do that, and you can move to the head of the class.  But that’s only half the battle.  The other half is to recognize that “who you know”- i.e. your network, is critical in getting noticed.  There are many really smart and accomplished scientists competing for jobs.  So your ability to network, build relationships and generate advocates who will get your resume to hiring managers is key.

So what are the critical skills that allow accomplished scientists to successfully compete for jobs?  At SciPhD we focus on six major competency areas that make up 23 core business and social behaviors that will get you an advantage.

Creating the Vision:  This encompasses the behaviors of Strategic thinking, Innovation, Risk Management, and Champion/Energy.

Developing Your People:  Here we focus on Collaboration, Enabling, Empathy, and Rapport.

Execution: This is all about careful planning to make sure everything you undertake is well managed.  The key behaviors here are Structuring, Control, Tactical planning and Delegation.

Achieving Results: The careful planning of Execution then leads to our fourth category.  This is all about not settling for the status quo, but rather always looking to improve.  It heralds the advanced skills of six sigma, and team performance.  The relevant behaviors in this category include Production, Focus, and Competition.

Communications: None of the behaviors described so far can be fully and successfully implemented without mastery of our fifth essential category.  Here, we look at four specific behaviors:

  1. Technical Literacy- the ability to adjust your technical language to that of your audience’s understanding.
  2. Style Flexibility- Recognition that different people have different ways that they interact and communicate with others.  If you can understand another’s preferred mode of communicating, and can adjust your own style to match theirs, you stand a better chance of building relationships, rapport, and trust.
  3. Emotional Intelligence- Staying positive and managing the emotion of relationships and communication to stay productive
  4. Social Intelligence- recognizing who you are speaking with, recognizing their social role, identifying how you can make their job/role easier, and using that knowledge to frame your conversation.  Essentially, “it’s not about me!”

is Financial Acumen is our sixth category, which covers, Return on Investment, Internal Rates of Return, Performance Metrics, and Reading a Balance Sheet.  Knowledge and incorporation of these behaviors promotes continuous improvement, delivering projects on time and within budget and are core assets for any project manager.

The key to being competitive is to identify which of these skills are essential for specific jobs of interest, and learning how to express your own experiences and accomplishments in terms of these skills, which are universally valued by employers.

SciPhD’s monthly webinar series “The Business of Science- How To Land Your First Job” ties all these concepts together to help scientists get a leg up on their career.  This series is offered the first full week of every month and includes a free permanent license to Flamingo, our companion web application.  Find out more at

Day 2: Student Questions: SciPhD Critical Skills- I Don’t Have Them!

Student question: “I have no industry experience, so I don’t have any business skills. How can I get a job?”

One of the biggest misconceptions we encounter is the notion by academic scientists that they don’t have any “business skills”, and therefore aren’t qualified for many industry jobs. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is, the scientific process and the business life cycle are virtually superimposable.

similarities between the scientific process (left) and business process (right)

Throughout your research career,

  1. you are developing hypotheses to test (aka Creating the Vision)
  2. you are identifying the various people who will help you do the work and making sure they are a coordinated team (aka Developing Your People)
  3. you design your experiments with appropriate controls, time courses, variables, and risk assessments and management strategies (aka Execution)
  4. you generate the data while always striving for excellent performance (aka Achieving Results)
  5. you publish or otherwise share your results (aka Communications)
  6. you determine the return on investment that could be in the form of grant awards, publications, getting your degree, or even a job (aka Financial acumen).

So the key is to learn the business life cycle language, and translate your research activities into that language. For example, when describing your planning of experiments in an interview with the head of the project management office, rather than

“…I purified the protein using gel filtration, alcohol precipitation and ion exchange chromatography, and evaluated the final product for endotoxin contamination…”,

try “… we evaluated a number of established protocols and applied performance metrics to identify an approach that had the lowest risk, and reasonable risk mitigation strategies. We determined our milestones to make sure we stayed on schedule, and met all deliverables on on time and on budget.”

Whether it is developing and executing science process, mentoring your colleagues, motivating others, empathetically providing constructive criticism, or brainstorming new ideas with a strategic mindset, and an eye on likelihood of success, scientists are consistently building an arsenal of business and social skills and accomplishments. You just have to learn the language and recognize which language to use with a given audience. Master that, and you can convince any interviewer that you do indeed have the business and social skills required. Now go out and get that job!

Want to learn more about how to get a leg up on your first job? Our three-webinar series on how to get your first job is offered the first full week of every month. For the rest of 2020, this also includes a permanent license for our web-application Flamingo® that will help you analyze job ads, create a targeted resume, and prepare for your interview. Check it out and sign up here.