Make connections – use and build your network
Making connections is an important part of any job search, but it can be especially important for researchers who are looking for non-academic careers. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of making the connections you need to succeed.
Start with your network
The best place to start is by connecting with the people who are already in your network. If you have decided which sector you are interested in, or a few companies you would want to work for, identify your contacts that are in that sector, in that company and get in touch with them. LinkedIn's features are quite useful in this regard.
Talk to people
Once you have identified some people to connect with, reach out to them and start a conversation. Ask them about their work, their experiences, and any advice they have for you. You can also ask them if they know of any opportunities that might be a good fit for you.
Another great way to make connections is to get involved in your field. Attend industry events and conferences, join professional organizations, and volunteer your time to a relevant organization. These are all great ways to meet people who are working in your field and learn more about the opportunities that are available.
Use social media
Social media can also be a great way to make connections. Follow people in your field on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms. Join relevant groups and forums, and participate in discussions. This is a great way to connect with people who share your interests and learn more about the industry.
Search the huge variety of job titles of people registered on LinkedIn. For example, you might be a computer scientist who enjoys writing algorithms or coding. Try putting the word 'algorithm' into a LinkedIn search and just see the range of jobs and organisations that are revealed in the search. Many people will have included terms like this in their skills and job descriptions. This may lead you onto a useful contact or employer, or a job title that you never knew existed.
See the PFDC tipsheet on LinkedIn (PDF) and the PFDC videos on 'LinkedIn profile - top tips' and 'Using LinkedIn for networking and job searching' (coming soon).
Don't be afraid to ask for help
If you are struggling to make connections, don't be afraid to ask for help. There are many people who are willing to help researchers who are looking for non-academic careers. Reach out to your former professors, mentors, and colleagues. They may be able to put you in touch with people who can help you in your job search.
The PFDC also offers a variety of resources to help researchers make connections. We have a Contacts Database for former Imperial Researchers, and we also run a number of networking events throughout the year.
The PFDC has developed a networking resource to support you in developing your networking skills both online and face to face. You can also attend relevant workshops run by the PFDC, e.g. ‘Pop Up: Networking for Success’ – refer to our website for more information.