The public health workforce is not doing well. In this series of articles, I will share what it was like working on the public health frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic and how these experiences changed me forever. I will share the lessons I have learned and what I want people around me to know, both within and outside the public health sector.
I’ve been looking for a job in public health every now and then for over 20 years: does that make me an expert, or by definition, not good at it? in previous columnIn fact, I have shared some examples of outdated job search advice that no longer applies to public health in 2022. Based on my personal experiences, and the input of my friends, colleagues, students, and contacts, I have been developing some suggestions for job public health advice that are actually relevant today. Please find here the first installment, focusing on the use LinkedInSocial networking site for professional interests. As always, please take my advice with a pinch of salt and a big dose of sarcasm.
I highly doubt that most job opportunities come from personal networking contacts rather than publicly advertised recruitment processes. Even network network network. Transfer all previously received ideas about communicating in person at conferences and meetings to their online counterparts, which are often less hierarchical. LinkedIn is your friend, which is pretty much inevitable in the search for #publichealthjobs.
For an assertive introvert like myself, navigating LinkedIn is a lot easier than navigating in-person conferences, with the added bonus that you can simply sign out once everything becomes too much. Get out of your shell a little online and connect to develop and form a professional network that will be your resource throughout your career. Below I’ve listed some helpful people to follow on LinkedIn, whose posts you currently find relevant to your public health job search.
Profile and contacts
Published many general skilled experts Tips for Develop your LinkedIn profile, so I will refrain from repeating what is readily available online, other than repeating what is particularly relevant to our overall health niche. Use the job title you want and the language of your job postings. Speaking of aspirations, avoid using the word “ambition” in your profile: tell me what you’re ready to do right now, even if it’s an extension.
Keep in mind the organizations you want to work in and build personal relationships. Develop connections with people who have the job title you want and work in the area or organization you are looking for. Follow their posts and interests, see what skills and topics they are posting about and prioritize discussion. They may not be recruited for certain vacancies at the moment but perhaps in time they will be. Share with them an online chat in the comments if you have something valuable to say. Perhaps most importantly: no Contact them if you don’t have anything of value to say.
When you attend a professional meeting or webinar in your chosen field, follow up on requests for contact with speakers whose messages have resonated with you. Whenever you read a major document or article in your professional field that makes you shake your head in appreciation, reach out to the author. Consider sending them some notes or a follow-up question. Tell them what resonated with you and what you were also wondering. You are not directly seeking a job opportunity, you are expanding your professional network.
Seeking out informational interviews can be a useful and timely strategy. But don’t make a new connection and then immediately annoy them asking for a time to meet for an informational interview. First, watch and learn. Reply to their posts now and then. Take the time to get to know the impression they want to make on LinkedIn before approaching them. When you open a conversation, refer to what you already know are their professional interests.
Remember that the job interview process is also part of communication. Even when an application doesn’t work, continue to make connections on LinkedIn and gain opportunities to connect with people you’ve come to know through the hiring process. (Yes, it’s embarrassing if they cheat on you. Get over it – you’ve done nothing to be ashamed of.) These people will be the first to know when another position becomes available on their team and you want them to keep thinking Greetings. Don’t burn any bridges. The people you’ve watched move up the career ladder are people who’ve navigated professional relationships and played the long game.
Finally, don’t agree with the perverse myth that any of this mess results in a true merit judgment. Like the unfortunate state of the academic job market right now, much of it is just luck; Luck has historically been distributed on grounds of privilege including race, gender, and immigration status. Be in the right place at the right time – how do you plan for it? I really see LinkedIn as part of the answer to this question.
Next week I will offer more tips for building a career in public health in 2022 outside of LinkedIn, and answer some of the specific questions I’ve received.
Please let me know what you think of these suggestions and share your tips for advancing your public health career in the comments or on LinkedIn.
Read the previous columns in this series:
Dr. Katie Schenk is an Infectious Disease Epidemiologist and Public Health Informatics Specialist. She has been working on the public health frontline of government health departments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Schenk currently works as a member of the US Medical Reserve Corps at COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites. She teaches public health and global health at American University in Washington, DC and George Mason University, Virginia. Previously, Dr. Schenk led a group of social and behavioral research studies on children and families affected by HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa at the Population Council. Visit her website: https://kdspublichealth.com/about-dr-katie-schenko/ To follow her on Twitter: @skibird613 and LinkedIn: dr-katie-schenko-4a884b84
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