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5 Essential Job Search Statistics For PhDs

Written By: Jeanette McConnell, PhD

When I reached the last year of my PhD, I was burnt out.

All I wanted was to finish my PhD and leave academia as fast as I could.

But, whenever I talked to other people at my university, no one seemed to have a clear idea of what was available outside academia.

Most people told me I should just do a postdoc.

I did not want to do a postdoc, of that much I was certain.

I was desperate, so I went to career services.

These people were pros at getting university graduates jobs, right?

Well, that wasn’t my experience.

I left career services more confused than when I went in.

As the career services person talked to me about resumes and job prospects, all I kept thinking was that all the time I spent getting my PhD was completely useless.

She even suggested that my time working at a coffee shop before I began my PhD was something I should highlight on my resume.

Was everything that I did during my PhD useless?

I was lost.

I kept searching for more information about how I could leave academia.

There must be something out there that my PhD is good for, besides doing a postdoc.

Soon, I found an alternative career mentor that helped me see the value in my PhD.

There were actually lots of jobs in industry that wanted people with PhDs.

As it turned out, I had gained tons of transferable skills during my PhD that made me a desirable job candidate.

But, as I began my industry job search, I realized there was much I didn’t know about how to get an industry position, or how to successfully execute a job search.

As a PhD, I had learned the minute details of my biochemistry project, so I knew I was capable of figuring out how to get a job outside academia.

I learned how to search for a job the right way, and it has served me well on my transition from academia to industry.

Why PhDs Must Know Job Search Statistics

PhDs know the value of numbers.

You know that making a good decision requires understanding all the data.

Your job search is no different.

As reported by Inc., every corporate job posting has more than 200 applicants.

And, according to Jobvite, of those 200, only about 12% will get called back for an interview.

But ultimately, only 1 candidate will get the job.

To be that 1 in 200 who is chosen as the best candidate for the job, you need to stand out from the crowd.

You need to leverage your transferable skills.

You must have great body language and display confidence.

And, you must understand the job search market and how the job search process functions.

Being an expert in the job search process will give you a head start over other candidates.

For example, do you know what is the best way to find out about available positions?

How long should you wait to follow up after an interview?

Should you always accept the job offer that is presented to you?

As a PhD, you have excelled in academia because you became an expert in your field.

To excel in your industry transition, you must become an expert in the job search process.

5 Must-Know Job Search Statistics

Not understanding how to execute your job search will ruin your industry transition before it has even begun.

You need to know the ins and outs of your job search.

That means knowing the numbers.

Here are 5 job search statistics that you must know…

1. 80% of jobs are never advertised.

Executing a reactionary job search means that you are only applying for jobs that you have seen advertised somewhere.

This is not efficient.

Only 20% of jobs are ever advertised.

You are missing out on 80% of jobs when you only apply to jobs that you have seen advertised.

In addition, about half of the jobs posted online have already been filled.

They are only posted online as a formality.

And, of those few jobs that are left, the companies will be using applicant tracking software (ATS).

ATS software will automatically reject 50% of the resumes that are submitted.

This means that for every 100 jobs that are available, only 20 are advertised, only 10 are not already filled, and only 5 will actually have a person look at your resume.

This is not a smart way to apply for jobs.

Instead, you should be networking.

Networking will give you access to the 80% of jobs that are not advertised, and will get your resume past ATS software, and into the hands of the hiring manager.

2. On average, it takes 52 days to fill an open industry position.

When you see an advertisement for a position that you want, it can be tempting to rush to put together your resume, and submit it online as fast as possible.

But, this rush is not necessary.

On average, it takes 52 days for an open position to be filled.

This means that when you see a job posting appear online, you still have time to network.

You have time to set up informational interviews with people who work at the company.

Networking is a wise use of your time.

Instead of spending hours on your resume and filling out an online job application, spend that time building rapport with people who work at your target company.

Make sure you ask how long the job has been available, so you know the timeline you are working with.

Add value to the connections that you make at this company.

Your end goal is to get a referral.

That referral will help get your resume past applicant tracking software and on the desk of the hiring manager.

3. It takes up to 2 weeks to hear back after an interview.

The relief that comes after an interview soon becomes mixed with worry and stress.

Why haven’t you heard anything from them?

Did you mess up the interview that badly?

Put these imposter syndrome thoughts to rest.

It can take up to two weeks to hear back from a company after an interview.

They will be interviewing other candidates and, if the company is large, there will be several stages of approvals required.

All this can take a bit of time.

But, you should not just sit around waiting to hear back after an interview.

It’s important that you are proactive.

Immediately after an interview, you should send a personalized thank-you email to each of the people who interviewed you.

You should also send a handwritten thank-you note.

These personal touches will show that you are very interested in the position and will make sure you remain in the thoughts of the hiring manager as they continue the hiring process.

4. 56% of job offers are rejected.

When you are desperate to leave academia, you might be tempted to accept any job offer that comes your way.

It may seem hard to imagine why anyone would reject an industry job offer.

But, the fact is that 56% of job offers are rejected.

You need to realize that not every job is going to be right for you.

As a PhD, especially, you are highly valuable and deserve a position that suits your professional lifestyle and salary requirements.

It is up to your potential employer to make the job appealing to you.

Whether a candidate rejects a job because the salary is too low, or they have gotten a different job, it is important to realize that it is okay to reject an offer.

If a position isn’t right for you, don’t take it.

5. Not negotiating will cost you $500,000 by the time you are 60.

In industry, negotiating your starting salary is expected.

The company is a business, and they are trying to get the best deal that they can.

You should be doing the same.

It is possible to negotiate tens of thousands of dollars more to your starting salary.

You will miss out on more than $500,000 if you are too scared to negotiate.

You should not be scared to negotiate.

Negotiating is a win-win.

You get a salary you deserve, and the company gets a committed, high-quality employee.

Always be positive when negotiating, and support your ask with the value that you will bring to the company.

When you are considering a job offer and negotiating a salary, you need to know your walk-away number.

Your walk-away number is the lowest salary that you are willing to accept.

If a company is not willing to meet your bottom line salary, then it is okay to reject the offer.

As a PhD, you deserve a job that values your skills and expertise.

Don’t settle for less.

The truth is in the numbers. PhDs need data. You need to know the facts. How else will you make a decision? This is true in the lab and in your job search. Understanding the essential job search statistics is the only way to really know how to execute a successful industry transition. You need to know statistics, such as: 80% of jobs are never advertised, it takes an average of 52 days to fill an open industry position, it can take up to 2 weeks to hear back after an interview, 56% of job offers are rejected, and not negotiating will cost you more than $500,000. Learning the important job search statistics, and executing your job search accordingly, will set you up for a successful industry transition.

To learn more about 5 Essential Job Search Statistics For PhDs, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the wait list for the Cheeky Scientist Association.

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Jeanette McConnell, PhD


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