The need for speed in today’s job search environment


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The rise of overnight shipping has killed our patience. Don’t have that order you placed 2 days ago? What terrible service!

This “must-have-it-now” mentality is beginning to permeate everything in our lives—including how managers view hiring, as I recently wrote in a brief LinkedIn essay. As consumer gratification gets close to instant, individuals bring this mindset to their workplace as well—and to suppliers of all types of services.

With this “Amazon time” phenomenon in mind, let me ask you, how long has your job search gone on? Are you pushing the envelope, getting yourself into the market faster, and getting those interviews and offers and eventual employment opportunities in front of you faster than ever before?

I don’t mean to intimidate you, but if the answer is “no,” you might need to start prioritizing things a bit differently than you have in the past. No job seeker has time for complacency or indecision under these changing job search timelines. When you are ready to move and your transition lies in front of you, jump in with everything you can give it.

No time to waste

Consider ABC Biotechnology, which has a big R&D program that it plans to launch in 90 days. Staff members have been planning for months to get the pieces in place. They’ve written job descriptions for researchers, regulatory staff, and laboratory support personnel. The human resources department will be working feverishly to get the positions filled with the best people before the action starts—which means that the fast and the flexible are most likely to land those jobs.

Industry hiring has always moved at a faster pace than academia does. But things have sped up even more in recent years, as I’ve seen with a nonprofit R&D institute client. In the past, this prestigious center would be pleased to set up interviews for the best people at the convenience of the candidates. Now, the employer insists on one particular day for all interviews, with only a week or two of notice. It’s an international job, meaning that travel arrangements to leave the country for the interview must be made. Don’t have a passport? Too bad, you’re out. Can’t make that day because your best friend is getting married? Sorry, postponing is not an option.

What the new rush means for you

In this new world, you need to move your job search into the same hyperspeed mode that employers now operate at. It may feel a bit overwhelming, particularly if you are coming from the slow-moving waters of academia. But getting on the fast track just requires a mindset adjustment, and a few new practices to speed up your job search activity. Here are some ideas to get you started. 

  1. Every time you are offered an opportunity to talk or go to an interview, give that person the first possible time you can fit it in. There’s nothing that sounds better than “I’m available to interview starting tomorrow morning.” Reinforce your eager interest to the person you are talking to at every opportunity.

Moving from one pace to another in the job search is a jarring experience. The best way to manage it is by making a little progress every day. So, apply your scientific mindset to your job search and monitor your numbers. Keep track of how many cold contacts you are making per day, how many job applications you have in, how many follow-up calls you’ve made, and so on. Chart those numbers, and then strive to improve them on a daily or weekly basis.

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