Whether you’re a chemist, clinical trial associate, medical technologist, or just beginning a job in the Life Sciences sector, proactively refining your skills is an important part of career progression and professional development. From biotech startups to raw material manufacturers, many companies are looking for candidates that possess both business skills and job-specific expertise, which can be acquired in and out of the lab. If you're searching for a new opportunity or seeking guidance on how to take your scientific career to the next level, fine-tuning these 4 soft skills will set you up for success.
From research funding, to your arsenal of test reagents, to how you operate under the fume hood, resolving conflicts is an innate part of the job. Whether it’s competing internally for budget share or simply negotiating contract parameters, employers are looking for individuals that can make effective and influential decisions in high-pressure or time-sensitive situations. Proposing solutions that maintain the integrity and workflow of a project, especially when it comes to conflicting social or professional opinions, is a highly in-demand skill that if developed, can quickly separate you from the competition.
Being a successful leader requires effective communication. While working in a research laboratory, for example, taking the lead on a particular project means establishing a shared vision, inspiring others in a way that boosts productivity, and guiding the team towards the successful completion of the task at hand. Strong communication skills are highly sought after, as employers recognize the value it delivers to multiple areas of the business. Take an online course, be an active presenter at scientific conferences and lab meetings, or volunteer to mentor a junior coworker to help develop and fine-tune your communication skills.
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While binge-worthy TV shows may be one of your favorite ways to spend your nights and weekends, physical and digital networking is an integral part of moving your career forward. Although striking up a conversation with strangers at an industry-related event may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, connecting with other scientific brains, discussing your interests and career goals, and building a web of professional relationships can help unlock new and exciting opportunities.
In addition to socializing with your peers in-person, you should also include social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, in your arsenal of networking tools. Joining online groups in your field, actively participating in discussions, and sharing valuable content with your connections is a great way to highlight your expertise, create a personal brand, and stay top of mind with your network.
Time Management Skills
From executing various research projects simultaneously to continually readjusting your strategy to correspond with experimental findings, being able to adapt to new situations requires flexibility and strong time management skills. For anyone holding a senior lab position, you have to balance overseeing day-to-day research while satisfying overarching objectives through the validation and elimination of certain hypotheses. Tactical planning allows you to streamline your workflow and maximize the hours available to you. With solid time management skills, you can expertly address setbacks by taking the steps necessary for getting a project back on track.
There are many roadways you can travel down in the field of life sciences. Regardless of the path you choose, however, honing these skills will boost your marketability and give you a competitive advantage when applying for a promotion or new job.