Spring is the perfect time to kickstart your job search—whether it’s for your first job or a new job. Before you jump into anything, it’s important to follow a STEM job search checklist to guide your decisions. As any woman in science, technology, engineering or mathematics understands, it’s critical to establish rigorous selection criteria because it makes all the difference in the outcome.

Finding a STEM job that meets all your criteria is as likely as finding the perfect mate. Like in relationships, there are must-haves and dealbreakers. Those are unique to you, but here are 18 factors to add to your STEM Career job search checklist.  Rate each of them out of 1 to 10. This will help you identify your top three must-haves.

STEM Career Job Search Checklist from Gotara

Job Search Checklist Reality Check

Did location land on your top 3? It’s been my experience that it tends to be disproportionately valuable to young people. If you have a dual career situation, this can be a significant factor unless your partner can work remotely. But If you prefer an urbane, coastal or temperate climate, I get it, but don’t miss out on STEM career opportunities because the location sounds unappetizing.

People tend to find happiness in any location and are remarkably adaptable. Personally, some of my satisfying STEM career experiences were in places like Minneapolis and Buffalo.  I have also lived in Cleveland, Chicago, LA, SF, upstate NY, Phoenix, and Savannah. Perhaps it’s my nature, but I liked all these locations.

what should be on the top of your STEM job search checklist?

Based on my own STEM career experience—the top three job search criteria that I would recommend you consider are:

  1. A great supervisor.
  2. Personal and career growth opportunities.
  3. The ability to make an important impact on my organization and society. 


    Here’s why these are my 3 job search dealbreakers

    A great supervisor is important because she will have a huge impact on your job satisfaction, assignments, security, visibility, flexibility and engagement. As it’s often said, people don’t leave jobs or companies; they leave bad bosses. Look for good chemistry and advocacy from the beginning. 

    No matter where you are in your STEM career, personal growth is the top priority so that you’re continually building upon your skills and experience. If you feel that your growth is slowing, then it’s time to seek a new assignment or a reboot your job search to get you re-engaged in your STEM career.

    Lastly, if you want to spend your STEM career working on meaningful projects, or for organization who are doing important and impactful work, you will naturally enjoy upsides like money and recognition, the respect of colleagues and community, deep personal satisfaction and pride. These won’t necessarily accrue quickly or fairly, but have faith that your contributions matter and you will be recognized.



Guest blogger

Cliff Spiro is a recognized authority on careers in science, technology, engineering & mathematics. Cliff holds a BS in chemistry from Stanford, a PhD in chemistry from Caltech, and spent his career innovating and leading.  He is the author of “R&D is War- and I’ve Got the Scars to Prove It,” “Up Yours- What to Do With an Engineering, Research, and Innovation Career,” and “From Bench to Boardroom- the R&D Leader’s Guide.”  In 2017, Cliff was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.


If Personalized job search advice is what you are looking for …

If you want additional job search advice from women in STEM who have walked in your shoes, join Gotara. It’s free to join and you have access to a database of strategic career content PLUS you can ask our Gotara advisors—who are senior leaders in the STEM world—for their advice.  This isn’t a public message board. Your 1:1 nano-mentoring experience is personalized and confidential.

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