ScienceCareer section this week has a rather "amusing" list of 6 "classic" lines of bull that either employers or employees/perspective employees dish out that are relevant in science careers. I'm not sure how classic they are because I'd say that I haven't heard most of them. Maybe this is because I haven't been in a "corporate" setting and in many case, my boss handles most of the administrative aspect of our daily operations. Still, I've done my share of interviews, from both sides, and can't recall the situation mentioned on the list.
In any case, the list does contain one pertinent advise that many perspective science job seekers and those still in school should pay attention to.
"Just concentrate on doing good science, not on getting a job. Good science sells itself; they'll come to you."
Translation: "Get back there in the lab and don't stick your head out again until that next publication is in hand."
Doing good science--great science for that matter--is critical no matter what type of job you're targeting. But one thing is for sure: Anyone who thinks that they can simply be good at something--and that this will get them noticed--has a rough road ahead. That's because finding a job requires skills that have nothing to do with science.
What it takes to succeed is not really hard-core sales, and yet it's more than just laying out your science. You need to use your network to find a job (which, of course, requires having a network to begin with), and you need to be able to stand up and take credit for what you do well. This is a skill that isn't usually taught, especially by a principal investigator who would prefer that you stay focused on the work in his or her lab.
I wish more science students in college realize that.