Help me navigate a meeting for a biotech contract writing opportunity
May 19, 2016 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Full time and mostly happily employed as a tech writer at company A, but it's not a long term career plan. Company B asked me to come in to see about a potential short term gig. This could be great. Or not. Help me navigate?

So the timeline:

Last summer I applied to work at Company B, a small but growing and well-respected biotech company that I really liked and wanted to work for. I had a connection and tried to network my way to at least an interview for a publicly advertised opening. I never heard back. No hard feelings. My portfolio/resume wasn't that great at the time.

Eventually I ended up at Company A. I've been here almost 6 months now. It's a software startup. It's not a secret that we want to be sold in a year or so. I love the people, I'm being paid well, and I'm okay with the work. I've picked up a lot of great experience. I'm doing well, but I don't want to stay longer than 1-2 years even if we don't just run of money, or get sold, etc. I'm just not that interested in this particular field of tech.

Well. This week, the CIO of Company B emailed me out of nowhere and said that the CEO + the exec of communications (my connection) had passed my resume to him and was I interested in a contract project for them as a tech writer? I agreed to a meeting and I'm cautiously excited. I had not been considering them as a place to go after Company A ends (given that I hadn't even had a sniff of interest last time), but I would be up for it. That said I've been in the workforce long enough not to be starry-eyed about anything at all ever until the ink has dried ... so I also want to be prudent.

I'm meeting with the CIO and a team (a bioinformatics person, a tech support person, a digital marketing person, and a PM) soon. I want the gig, I want my foot in the door, but my full time job comes first for all the obvious reasons.

More details:

- FYI, Company A only cares if my outside activities impact my work here, or if it's in the same field. I don't have any legal or ethical concerns, as long as my performance is sustained.

- I have about ~10 hrs/week to work on a side project and I sent them my most recent resume so unless they are willfully blind (in which case I don't want to be there anyway) they will know I'm working full-time. The biggie is that I cannot be on-site more than maybe 1x a month. (I need to be physically at Company A during normal work hours, and it's a 45 min drive away from Company B) That makes me less attractive.

- But, I am VERY qualified to write for Company B. Before I took up writing as a profession, I was a research biologist, in the same field as Company B. I actually made it to the 2nd round of interviewing there a few years ago as a bench biologist.

- All my work at Company A is pretty much locked down under an NDA so I can't really take in samples :( which is my usual MO for trying to impress people.

I'll have 30 minutes with the CIO and 1 hour with the team.

I'm not embarrassed to say any of the above, if it could be advantageous. Up to and including "hey, if you're trying before you buy, I'm more than up for that".

I'm pretty well versed in their tech from previous interviews and my own work experience, but I need to do a more up to date search (which I'll do this weekend).

Any suggestions as to what to be sniffing for, very specific things to say/not say, considerations to keep in the back of my mind, etc. would be welcome.

Thanks so much in advance!
posted by aperturescientist to Work & Money (1 answer total)
There doesn't seem to be anything to lose by talking to them, or by taking the assignment if offered. I think you're looking at everything right, including the possibility that a gig might lead to a job.

I think all the bullet points you mentioned can and should be put on the table so that expectations are aligned, EXCEPT that

- I would not talk a lot about your prior attempt to get a FT job at Company B (if they bring it up, discuss it briefly and move on, with an airy wave as if it was just another job interview for you).

- I would not say anything like "if you're trying before you buy, I'm up for that." This could be a trial run, as you suspect, or it could be that they just need this little thing knocked out.

I myself hire PT people for things sometimes, and if they show promise we offer FT work, but I dislike having strong suggestions made by PT hires about going FT, especially early on. It makes discussing the job at hand awkward sometimes, and is kind of the job market equivalent of showing up for the first date in a wedding dress (or tux). Nothing wrong with applying for a FT job during or after working the PT job, nothing wrong with asking your contacts over there about posted (or potential) FT positions (AFTER you have been doing the PT job and doing it well), etc., but I'd play it a bit cool at first.
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:45 PM on May 19, 2016

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