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Importance of Keywords in Your LinkedIn Profile

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch April 4, 2022

You have probably heard about applicant tracking systems for resumes and cover letters when applying for jobs online. When applying for jobs online, it is of the utmost importance to use as many keywords from the job description to get through any computer filters. Well, the same holds true for LinkedIn. LinkedIn can be a goldmine for new opportunities. To maximize your number of options it is really important that you add keywords to your profile for the job YOU WANT not the job you have right now. This is especially true for career pivoters who might be changing directions.

How can you do this?

Your “About” (formerly Summary) section on LinkedIn is a great way to add in a ton of information. Most people fall very short of the 2,000 character limit within this section, which is unfortunate because it is often one of the first sections people read and it tends to be the most scannable by recruiters.  Within this section, you can include a list of skills as a running list. Example: Skills/Proficiencies: MATLAB, Linux, Database Administration, etc.

You can also add in a section or a few lines detailing areas of interest: Program Management, Consulting, Science Policy, etc. It is also helpful to take a look at different industries and see what keywords/skill sets are important to them. You can use this resource from Resume Worded in order to scan by career path about the most marketable skills for you to highlight.


Email Advice: Create Strong Subject Lines

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch April 11, 2022

Everybody gets a ton of emails these days. When you are job searching and reaching out to people either for networking purposes or to apply for a job, you are really hoping that your email doesn’t get buried in their inbox and never opened. You don’t have a lot of control over how your message is received, but you can control the content of what you write. Strong and specific email subject lines will help to maximize the open rates of your job search and networking emails. Instead of generic subjects like “Introduction”, “Hello”, or “Following Up” try giving more detail.

When you are reaching out for an information interview, you can write:

  • NIH Postdoc Seeking Science Policy Career Advice
  • Fellow UVA Alum Interested in Industry

When you email companies or people about job openings, you can write:

  • PhD Curious About Openings at AstraZeneca/Company
  • Question About Current Opening – XYZ

This article details many scenarios including requesting an introduction, following up when you haven’t heard back, sending thank you notes, etc. They also note good email subject lines for each situation.


AIRS Method of Networking

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch April 18, 2022

Typically, we seek to connect with others for one of four reasons in a professional setting:

  • For Advice
  • For Information
  • For a Referral
  • For Support

This is referred to as the "AIRS" theory of networking and can help to provide structure to your request for informational interviews, a connection with an old colleague, or outreach to a potential manager.

The A.I.R.S method for networking also works when you're not seeking employment. We often search for colleagues during our daily work for the same reasons. Remember, networking isn't something that's done just when job searching. It's a professional activity that you're always doing - whether you are aware of it or not. A good network is one that is built over time and can be leveraged when needed. The more time you put into building relationships now, the stronger your chances are of finding the types of career success you're after later.

Use your status as a trainee at the NIH to your advantage to learn about career options by scheduling informational interviews. The Informational interview is a well-used technique for making connections with those who you may not have a strong (or any) connection with. The purpose of the informational interview is not to seek employment, but to build a connection, learn as much as you can about the person's success you're speaking with, ask for advice from them (what would you do if you were in my position?), and otherwise gather intelligence. Informational Interviews are a powerful tool in your career strategy and must be deployed correctly. If you need help coming up with good questions to ask in an informational interview, refer to OITE’s handout here -


Money Can’t Buy Happiness at Work

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch April 25, 2022

In our workshops, Planning for Career Satisfaction and Success, we often talk about the basis of career satisfaction as stemming from a career path which intersects with your own prioritized skills, values, and interests.

Similarly, Arthur C. Brooks argues in an Atlantic article that, “To be happy at work, you don’t have to hold a fascinating job that represents the pinnacle of your educational achievement or the most prestigious use of your “potential,” and you don’t have to make a lot of money. What matters is not so much the “what” of a job, but more the “who” and the “why”: Job satisfaction comes from people, values, and a sense of accomplishment.”

He continues, “When my graduate students ask me for advice on choosing a job or career path, I don’t tell them to find the best possible fit between their interests and specific job duties. Obviously, they shouldn’t sign up for something they hate. But I tell them that satisfaction can be found in all sorts of vocations. Rather than relentlessly pursuing a “perfect match” career that they’re sure will make them happy, a better approach is to remain flexible on the exact job, while searching for the values and culture that fit with theirs.”

Research has confirmed this noting that the people who are most satisfied with their work are those with employer’s match their own values.  The values held by your company and your co-workers correlates to employee satisfaction. Other factors that help contribute are: a sense of accomplishment, recognition for work, and work-life balance. Notably missing from this equation is wage increases. In fact, economists have found that salary increases raise job satisfaction but only in the short term and in all careers, regular wage increases are better for happiness than infrequent, large raises.

Many employees continue to seek extrinsic goals in their quest for work happiness and satisfaction. Brooks contends that for real satisfaction, you should pursue intrinsic goals and two in particular.

  1. Earned success
    This gives you a sense of accomplishment and professional efficacy which actually reinforces your commitment to your job. Employers who give clear feedback, reward merit and encourage employees to develop new skills all help contribute to a sense of earned success
  2. Service to others
    The other aspect which helps contribute to career satisfaction is the sense that your job is making the world a better place. You can find service to others in almost any job; not just non-profit charity work. If you see the connection, then that is the most important aspect.