Visual imagery to highlight content on this page

AAP Career Services Associate Director Offers Job-Search Tips

Colleen Connolly McCusker

Hopkins Happenings talked with Colleen Connolly McCusker, associate director of career services for Advanced Academic Programs at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, about tips for job seekers. While McCusker usually works with students, most of her tips are helpful to people at any stage in their careers. Here are her Top 10 tips:

  1. Make an appointment for career services help. Connolly McCusker is based in Washington, D.C. and comes to the Montgomery County campus two Thursdays each month. To schedule an appointment, please use the on-line calendar system,  Appointment-plus. First-time users will need to register at before scheduling a session.  Career services can help with resumes, cover letters, negotiation strategies, mock interviews and general career counseling.
  2. Read the career services newsletter for information on career-related events, jobs, internships and fellowships. AAP students receive the newsletter electronically twice a month during the academic year and monthly during the summer.
  3. Don’t rely on a generic resume. Tailor the resume to the job you are seeking. Highlight the job description and make sure keywords appear in your resume. Do the same for your cover letter but remember your resume needs to be able to stand alone.
  4. Make connections as early as possible. Use the Hopkins community and LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, connect with professional groups. On Twitter, consider following employers that interest you. Respond to people’s blogs and Tweets.  Go to networking events and build relationships. If you are looking for a career in biotechnology, for instance, go to BioBuzz, and Women in Bio events.
  5. If you are making a transition to a new career, double your efforts. Take on extra projects where you can demonstrate your relevant skills. Consider doing pro-bono work and internships to gain experience in the field you are targeting.   You can’t rely on your resume as much to open the door to a new career, so strong relationships are even more important. Don’t wait until the last semester build experience or to launch your job search.
  6. Check out the new career resource Optimal Resume. You can easily link to Optimal Resume from the AAP Career Services website,  Find plenty of resources for careers, including a portfolio builder, website builder, sample cover letters with multiple formats and a tool to practice interviews.
  7. Clean up your online presence. Take a fresh look at your Facebook page. Present a professional image. Reconsider whether you want pictures of your children, pictures of parties and pictures of alcohol on your page. 
  8. Consider developing your own website. Include your resume and portfolio. Include a picture of yourself receiving an award. Include poster presentations, papers you have written and citations. Make sure the website looks professional.
  9. Don’t just rely on big job boards such as, especially if you are looking for a job at a smaller company. Check out niche, industry-specific websites, including Bio Smartbrief, BioSpace, HireBio.  Go to company websites too.
  10. Remember that any conversation can turn into a job interview. Take informational interviews seriously. Bring your resume and portfolio, be prepared to talk about why you are interested in the company, why you are qualified and the contributions you can make. Know the company. Be ready to market yourself at a moment’s notice.


CATEGORY: Academics