Know Your Potential Employers
Looking Into Your Future
Are we talking about predicting the future? No, this advice isn't from the realm of metaphysics but a recommendation to identify which companies or institutions employ people like you.
Setting Goals and Expectations
If you know who your potential employers are you can familiarize yourself with their job requirements and benefits. For example, a student working on a PhD should find out where he or she might be employed before studying for several years in an area with limited job prospects or salaries that don't meet expectations. Early research helps you set and reach realistic personal goals.
Who Has a Place for You?
Knowing where you'd fit helps you set realistic goals, write better resumes, and give sharper job interviews.
Writing a Better Resume
Researching potential employers will help you write a more tailored resume. You will be able to use their vocabulary and terminology if you know what they do. You will be able to highlight qualifications most likely to interest specific employers if you know their fields. Taking the time to understand the specific challenges and problems a potential employer is facing will help you market your skill set--and demonstrate that you're prepared for the position.
Discovering Who Could Employ You
There are several ways to identify potential employers and relevant jobs while finding out salary information, too.
Utilize your professional network and ask people you know for suggestions or examples of jobs for your background. They may just give you names of companies or they may put you in touch with someone new.
Search online and print job listings to get ideas for who hires physicists and then research those companies. Remember, professional societies often offer their members free access to job postings.
- APS Physics Jobs Center
Search job listings and post your resume or CV for employers to review.
Government job listings, including jobs at national labs. When searching include a variety of keywords (physics, physicists, physical scientist, etc.)
Learn which companies have hired physicists in the past. Try to make personal contacts at those companies. Statistic resources from the American Institute of Physics:
Who's Hiring Physics Bachelor's
Physics & Astronomy Master’s Initial Employment
Physics Doctorates Initial Employment
Physics Employment Data
Most physicists work in research and development, their jobs often involving surprising and fascinating tasks. Many physicists have jobs that initially seem unrelated to physics but for which their physics backgrounds were excellent preparation. Reading about physicists and what they do can prompt you to consider employers you would never have sought otherwise.
Physicist Profiles (ComPADRE)
Physicist Profiles (Society of Physics Students)
Profiles of Physicists (Sloan Career Cornerstone Center)
Know the Employer Before Your Interview
Researching a prospective employer before sending them your resume will help you write a better cover letter and a specifically applicable job and education history.
Review that lab, university, or company background before you go for your interview so that you will be familiar with the employer's most recent research and publications. Be prepared to relate your background to their specialties.