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Trade fairs for job hunting

Trade fairs are great events, not only for buying or selling equipment, but also for networking and career development. Am I talking about career fairs? No, at the end of this post you´ll know why trade fairs might be better than career fairs for job starters.

I just came back from this year´s Analytica trade fair in Munich, which I am using extensively to network and expand my collaborations. I want to share my thoughts about the trade fair setting, my preparation and my strategy.


Why is a trade fair so useful for job seekers?


Going to a career fair for life scientists can be a tiring experience. A multitude of graduates overcrowds even spacious halls and leads to stress for all attendees, regardless of their role. After queuing for ages, you get to pitch to an HR manager, “Hi, I am Philipp, I graduated…” You finish with the feeling that your poor conversation partner already had to listen to similar messages many, many times that day. “Thanks a lot for your interest in our company, please submit your application via our online platform.” “Can I leave my card…?” “Not necessary, all applicants go through the same process.”

Career fairs are not pointless, they can provide lots of useful information specifically for job starters. But it´s a very difficult setting to leave a lasting impression and to gain meaningful contacts.

Trade fairs, on the other hand, are there to sell and buy goods. What are graduates doing here? Imagine the following scenario.…

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Career options for scientists

Biological age or academic age?

In my office I find the application of a female academic in her early forties. The file feels heavy, 22 pages. Once I see that she is applying for a full professorship, I also know why. Fortunately, there is a table of contents, telling me what to expect at one quick glance.

By now she has been unsuccessfully applying for positions as a professor or team leader for two years. As an example, she has attached a job posting she applied for. She didn´t even get invited for an interview, although she thought she was perfect for the position.

Career options for scientists

I immediately jump to item no. 7, the list of publications, which is still the most important selection criterion in academia. 13 papers, of which she was the primary author on 8. The really big journals, like Nature or Science, are not among them, but the journals in which she has published are definitely respectable. I flip back to the section “Education and academic career”: She had started writing her PhD thesis in 2000. 13 publications in 16 years, that is probably not enough to show for when applying for a full professorship, I think to myself, perhaps even the reason why her application didn’t make the cut. Then I start working my way through the documents. On page 5, I come across the section “Maternity and parental leave”.

She had been on maternity leave for 10 months for each of her two children. In the fine print, I discover the following footnote: “Since 2009, I have been working part-time (65%).” I do the maths: 16 years minus 20 months, 7 years times 0.65.…

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Women & career work-shop for life scientists

Seriously! Do I need to work?

Women & career work-shop for life scientistsWe are women, the women of the future! In Germany we have been allowed to vote since 1919 and have not had to ask our husbands for a “work permit” since 1977 (wow this is not THAT long ago!!!). Most of us also have a free choice as to whether and what we want to study. The traditional female role between stove and nursing offspring is slowly dying out in our society and women are seen more and more in their independent roles. It is an exciting time for both sexes. Women are increasingly expected to return to the labour market after having children, while we demand greater participation of men in child rearing and household duties. Not everyone is happy with this profound change in our society. In Germany, one recognises two hardened fronts at the extremes of the spectrum: some see the role of the woman at home with family and household as her almost exclusive role (as was the only accepted life plan in West Germany until the 1960s). If she wants to do something outside of the household, she can, for example, work in a bakery for a few hours a week (on a tax-free “450 € basis”) or do something charitable. The other front in this debate wants to see the woman as fully independent: she should play an important, if not the primary role in the family income, pay taxes, and stand on her own feet. They see “housewives” as a waste of human talent.…

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Professor_ NaturalScience.Careers

How to become a professor – what hiring committees are looking for

Dreaming of becoming a professor one day? Then it might be worthwhile to know what universities are looking for and plan your career strategically. We spoke to scientists who regularly attend hiring committees to find out what the first thing they look at when a CV lands on their desk.

We published the article in Chemistry World. You can read it here for free.

Here is the overview that belongs to the article:

Further recommended reading: 

Book: At the Helm: Leading your Laboratory by Kathy Barker

Book: Promotion – Postdoc – Professur: Karriereplanung in der Wissenschaft by Mirjam Müller

Article: How to become a professor by Sven Hendrix


Our recommended seminars covering part of this topic:

Women & Career

Hello academia 

Leadership skills

How to build your lab

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