FROM THE ARCHIVE: Boo! Why Job Searches are So Scary

October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween from OITE!Image of two bats, a ghost, a pumpkin and the word "Boo!".

Today is a day for tricks, treats and all things spooky. While we hope you will enjoy the spirit of this holiday in your personal life, we also invite you to think about your professional life and what part of the job search scares you.

Job searching can feel like navigating your way through a haunted house – it can be riddled with false doors, creepy detours, and hair-raising events.  As proof of this, read some Job Search Horror Stories as shared by OITE staff.  Many questions can come up during a job search: What in your professional past, if anything, haunts you? How spooked are you by networking? What eerily hard questions have you received during an interview? How frightened are you about finding the perfect job?

The questions and doubts that arise during a job search are very common.  You are opening yourself up to new opportunities, which is often synonymous with change. Plus, you are putting yourself and your professional accomplishments out into the world for consideration.  You are pulling back the mask; on a superficial level, it is easy to understand how the job search can make an individual feel vulnerable, exposed, and anxious.  The anxiety and risk aversion associated with this process can cause individuals to procrastinate.  Like a ghoul you can’t shake, there can be a nagging voice in your head reminding you that you need to be doing more.

Brain research has repeatedly shown that humans try to maximize rewards and minimize threats – we often condition ourselves to avoid pain or resistance.  Often times, we also avoid what is most important to us.  Many scientists tend to be perfectionists, and this can be a debilitating attribute for a job search. We all want to choose the perfect job, create the perfect resume and negotiate the perfect salary.  Fear that we will fall short can cause us to avoid those activities and procrastinate.

Take some time today to think about the ghosts of your job searching past.  Remember that there are a lot of “tricks” to job searching, so be sure to utilize the “treats” from OITE. We are here to help you at every stage along the way and can hopefully begin to help demystify a scary process.

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Beware of Fraudulent Job Ads

October 24, 2016

Searching job boards is a big part of looking for a new job. However, fraudulent employers can get through and post even on trusted websites.  It is up to you to do your due diligence and make sure you don’t become the victim of a fraudulent job posting. This can be hard because often fake employers are very savvy in how they market themselves. It is also difficult to know what is real and what is fake if you aren’t familiar with common customs and practices within the United States.

Scammers are always reinventing ways to run their con, so this list is by no means extensive. Try to use your best judgement; however, if you aren’t sure, don’t hesitate to ask others (including OITE) their opinion on the legitimacy of a job ad.

In general, here are some red flags to you as a job seeker:

1. The posting contains many spelling and grammatical errors as well as odd spacing.

2. It seems too good to be true! A high salary is being offered for a minimal skill set job. If it seems to good to be true, it most likely is.

3. You are asked to provide a credit card, bank account, PayPal, or other personal financial information. NEVER provide this! Legitimate jobs will not ask for this kind of information. Likewise, you should be very cautious if the company or a recruiter asks for any kind of initial investment from you. That is not usually how the process works, so proceed with caution.

4. The listed website doesn’t work or if you are redirected to another website, then that should give you pause.

5. The position states that you will be working from home and will need access to personal resources like a computer or car.  Granted a lot of positions do work from home, so this in and of itself is not a deal breaker; however, if you see this in conjunction with other things that are amiss, then take heed.

6. Very little is mentioned about the actual job, responsibilities, work location, etc. The majority of the posting focuses on the money that will be made.

7. You are asked to provide a photo of yourself or other personally identifying information.

8. The employer responds to you immediately after you submit your application (not an auto-response). Most legitimate employers take thoughtful time to go through candidates, so it is a huge red flag if that doesn’t happen.

9. A startup tells you there is not office in your geographic location and they want you to help them get a new office up and running. This can be an exciting opportunity or a scam. If they ask you for banking information to help make “employer transactions” then stop communicating with them.

10. It is difficult to find an address, company name, and actual contact information online. In today’s world, this should be at your fingertips. If it is not, then that is a problem.


Do some research to see if you are being scammed.

Job Scam Video and Information from the Federal Trade Commission
http://ftc.gov/jobscams Job

Scams List: A-Z List of the Most Common Job Scams http://jobsearch.about.com/od/jobsearchscams/a/job-scams-list.htm

Ripoff Report
http://www.ripoffreport.com


If you have been scammed…

If you have sent money to a fraudulent employer, then you should contact your bank and/or credit card company immediately. You should also contact the police. If the incident occurred completely over the internet, then you should file a report with the United State Department of Justice (www.cybercrime.gov) and the Federal Trade Commission (http://www.ftc.gov).

If you find a suspicious posting on the OITE Career Services site, please alert us immediately.

 

*List adapted from Georgia State University Career Services and Rutgers Undergraduate Academic Affair


NIH OITE Alumni: Where Are They Now? Director of Career Services

October 17, 2016

dumsch_amandaName: Amanda Dumsch

Job Title & Organization: Director of Career Services; SAIS Europe, Johns Hopkins University

Location: Bologna, Italy

What was your job search like?
I wasn’t actively job searching; however, a former boss emailed me a link to an open position at SAIS Europe.  I didn’t pay much attention to it at first and I actually sat on the email for over a month. Then, one day while I was at the National Career Development Association Conference, I suddenly decided it couldn’t hurt to send in my cover letter and resume. The process moved seemingly quickly after that.

How did you make the decision to take an international job?
It was actually a difficult decision for me because I was in an enviable position. My job as a career counselor at the OITE was fantastic. I was happily employed in a job that I liked working alongside people I respected. So, I worried and wondered. How could I walk away from that? I also lived geographically close to my family, so the prospect of moving an ocean away – on a different continent – stressed me out.

Making the decision took time and I did a lot of things to help get clarity. I made pros and cons lists; I journaled about it; I spoke to career counselors; I talked to trusted colleagues; and I conferred with loved ones constantly.  I even reread some of the very blog posts that I had written about decision-making, including:

Making a Career Decision? Use the CASVE Cycle

3 Decision-Making Tips

Decision-Making Activity — Prioritizing Grid

As a feeling decider, the decision ultimately came down to a gut feeling that this was the right next step for me in my life and my career. Sometimes stress and worry still kick in though and I panic, What if I made the wrong decision?  But, I try to take a moment to breathe and remind myself that I can always make a new decision if needed in the future.

What have you learned from this process?
There is an adage “opportunity knocks at inopportune times” and I have often thought about this line because it felt so applicable to my situation. Perhaps more than any other time in my life, I had committed to multiple projects through the end of the year. So, moving felt very disruptive to all of the plans (professional development courses, the NYC marathon, trips) that I had scheduled.

As a planner, it can be hard for me to make adjustments when something new comes up, but I learned to be more flexible and adaptable. The fact that this something new was so life changing felt exciting… and stressful.  I remind myself that almost everyone struggles with transitions and even positive change can create stress.

Any final thoughts?
While at the NIH, I had almost 2500 individual appointments; in these meetings, I had the chance to meet with trainees at all levels – postbacs, graduate students, and postdocs. I met smart and ambitious individuals doing remarkable work at and away from the bench.  Many of my meetings focused on transitions; helping people transition both to and away from the NIH.  I was constantly impressed by the trainees that I had the privilege of working with and I was especially struck by the visiting fellows.  Their courage to move to a different country, learn a new language, and adapt to a new culture was inspiring to me.  I look forward to experiencing a new way of life in a new part of the world, but the people I met at the NIH will always be dear to me.


Want to be 10% Happier?

October 10, 2016

Front image of the book by Dan Harris "10% Happier"Dan Harris is a correspondent for ABC News, an anchor for the show Nightline, a meditation skeptic turned believer, and the author of the book 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Really Works – a True Story.

After an on-air panic attack in 2004, Harris went on a journey to figure out why he had been experiencing panic attacks.  Part of this journey led him to discover the benefits of meditation and he now wants to spread the word.

His promise is not grand. He doesn’t claim meditation will solve all of your problems, but he does believe it will make you 10% happier. 

In this video, Harris talks about how he started small with just five minutes of meditation a day and he is really honest about his experience with it.  He notes that in the beginning it didn’t seem awesome and actually felt like a waste of time.

Are you interested in exploring meditation?

At OITE, we are no strangers to this topic. We have written about the benefits of incorporating mindfulness into your day here on this blog, and we even have a weekly meditation group which meets every Thursday.

If you are not at the NIH, you might want to check out Dan’s book and podcast to help you get started with meditating.


ACE Your Career in 10 Hours

October 3, 2016

Albert Chen, an MD/PhD student at the University of Michigan designed the ACE plan.  ACE is short for Active Career Exploration.  According the Chen and colleagues within their four-part series on Science Careers, “ACE is your protocol for career experimentation, a logical progression of steps designed to overcome common barriers and give visible results after just 10 hours.”

Just 10 hours?

To be clear, the authors note that this means 10 hours within one month. The steps aren’t meant to be drawn out over, say the last year of your postdoc.

Here is how the 10 hours break down:

2 hours = Read and reflect
3 hours = Send cold emails to people you don’t know
3 hours = Meet people for informational interviews
2 hours = Form your career plan

 

Image of the ACE Plan in steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chen created a guide to help you within your ACE Plan entitled “Cold E-mails and Hot Coffee” which can be downloaded for free.  One of authors’ guiding principles was to create limits on how much time a person could spend in one section since it can be so easy to get stuck in an area which feels the most comfortable to you.

Many trainees at the NIH are well-versed on the first step: reading and reflecting.  Many times this equates to trying to do their own research on a career field through articles and books; however, they then have a hard time making that leap into the second and third stages – the more active phases – which include sending cold emails and meeting people for informational interviews. The read and reflect phase spans into months instead of a mere two hours.

Why do people get stuck making the leap to the second and third phases within the ACE Plan?

Well, often because sending cold emails to people you don’t know feels awkward and you worry it won’t be well-received.  Chen and colleagues understand these challenges, so they devoted a whole article on how you can do this part well.  It is extremely important to normalize this networking process because it is so key to your career development. Often the worst that happens is you just don’t hear back.

If you have attended any of our workshops at the OITE, then the ACE Plan will sound very familiar to you.  It is a new spin on common recommendations, but perhaps the time-limited approach will resonate with you.

Give it a try and let us know how the 10 hour ACE plan worked for you!