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5 Ways PhDs Can Leverage Wage Push Inflation To Get Hired

I had heard of PhDs transitioning rapidly into management roles, but I never thought I would meet one.

I assumed that opportunities to fast track one’s career into the top levels of a company were reserved exclusively for elite PhDs. 

The chosen minority who always have brilliant ideas and produce 10 first-author publications in top journals by the time they defend. 

The ones who have been aiming for senior management all along. The ones for whom negotiation for a high salary seems to come naturally.

Can you imagine being one of them?

I can’t. 

Do you even know one of these PhDs?

I don’t.

I figured that if I wanted a senior-level role in industry (and the accompanying salary), I would have to patiently work my way up the corporate ladder.

 I know many PhDs who share this belief.

“PhDs who jump into industry management roles with a high salary are unicorns,” I told myself, “I’m never going to find one.”

Until I did.

A colleague of mine recently transitioned from a position in research and development at a start-up company into a management job on track for the C-suite at one of the top companies in the world. As a bonus, the role comes with a huge salary hike compared to her previous role.

You read that right. 

This colleague landed a new upper-level role that comes with a giant raise.

During the pandemic. And she’s not the only one.

Lately, I’m hearing more and more from PhDs who have secured higher-level roles.

Some of them are transitioning into these roles straight out of academia!

What is going on right now?

What Is Wage Push Inflation And How It Affects The PhD Job Market

We’re currently living in a very rare time.

The global economy is currently subject to a phenomenon known as wage push inflation.

According to Investopedia, wage push inflation is an overall rise in the cost of goods that result from a rise in wages. 

For example, you may have noticed that your groceries cost more than they did before the pandemic.

Part of the reason for this increase is that hiring has become a challenge for some industries. To attract workers, these industries are offering higher salaries. These industries are passing the cost of these higher salaries onto consumers by raising the price of the goods and services they provide.

If you are a PhD, you can take advantage of this situation.

If you are willing to adjust your job search strategy accordingly, you can transition into a higher-level job in industry right now irrespective of your current situation. 

Whether you are a postdoc, unemployed, or in an entry-level role, you can leverage current job market conditions to secure a role that pays you what you’re worth as a PhD.

How PhDs Get Hired By Leveraging Pandemic Related Wage Push Inflation

If you are a PhD reading this right now, the job opportunities offered by wage push inflation may seem too good to be true. 

That’s your negative academic mindset talking.

Tell it to get lost. Now.

Lots of PhDs are currently using wage push inflation to get hired into industry roles with high salaries that they didn’t think were realistic options for them previously.

There’s no reason you can’t be one of them. 

Right now, you are paying the cost of wage push inflation. Your salary probably hasn’t increased, especially if you’re in academia right now. Yet, because of wage push inflation, you’re paying more for basic goods and services.

Why not take advantage of the benefits?

Don’t get left behind.

Start taking these 5 actions now to get hired at a salary that will dramatically boost your lifetime earnings before it’s too late…

1. Craft A Compelling LinkedIn Profile That Attracts Employers

PhDs are arguably more in demand than they ever have been before in the job market.

Now, you may be thinking, “If I’m so in demand, why don’t I have employers contacting me?”

If you are a PhD and you’re not getting employer contacts right now, it’s because you’re invisible.

To become visible, you need to be on LinkedIn

Over 92% of employers use social media to find potential employees, and LinkedIn is the social media option of choice for employers looking to fill high-level technical positions. 

To truly leverage LinkedIn to get hired, you need to master its capabilities.  

You need a complete profile that portrays you as a confident and successful industry professional. 

You have to learn about LinkedIn Recruiter so you can optimize your profile based on how recruiters conduct searches for your target role. You should turn your LinkedIn recruiter button “on” so LinkedIn knows that you’re looking for work. 

Know and work to improve your Social Selling Index (SSI) score to increase your visibility. 

You also need to be an active LinkedIn member by engaging with content and writing your own posts. And you need to network. Aim for thousands of connections, not hundreds. 

Most PhDs have to completely revise their approach to LinkedIn to become visible to industry recruiters and employers. But once they do, they end up with job opportunities pursuing them instead of the other way around.

2. Aim For A Management Job Title, Not An Entry Level One

A lot of PhDs are looking at wage push inflation right now and thinking, “Great! I can finally get into the entry-level industry role I’ve been aiming for with a higher salary than I was anticipating!”

The opportunity is actually even better than that.

Salary isn’t the only thing that has shifted up because of wage push inflation. Job titles have too.

Because of wage push inflation, professionals who would have previously been a fit for an entry level job are now getting hired into second level roles slightly higher than entry level. And professionals who would have been considered for level two roles are now getting hired into level three roles.

For example, professionals who would expect to start as data analysts are now getting into data scientist roles. 

In other words, wage push inflation gives you the chance to transition into industry at a higher level than you would have before.

This means that if you’ve been thinking about research scientist jobs, you should apply for senior scientist or principal scientist roles. Or if you’ve been targeting medical writing positions, go after senior medical writer positions.

Whatever industry role interests you, it’s time to focus on it’s next level.

3.Focus On Your Ideal Career, Not You Safety Net Career

A lot of PhDs struggle with imposter syndrome.

These PhDs may want a medical science liaison role. Or maybe they dream of becoming a principal scientist, principal engineer, user experience researcher, or data scientist.

But they think they have to settle for a safety net role at first. Then maybe they can work their way up to their dream role. Right?


PhDs should be focusing on their dream positions right now.

Biotechnology, pharmaceutical, technology, hospitality, and retail companies are all having trouble finding candidates to fill their open positions. And these open positions are the same ones that PhDs dream about!

If you are a PhD on the job hunt right now, you don’t waste your time on a starter role. You’re in demand, and you should focus on your dream role. 

4. Negotiate Your Salary Regardless Of The Economy

Even though wage push inflation is increasing salaries, you still have to negotiate.

If you’re a PhD and the first salary offer you get for an industry role looks good, you may be tempted not to negotiate. 

But you should always negotiate. 

Companies expect you to negotiate. In fact, if you don’t negotiate, they may think that you lack confidence or aren’t engaged. You want to avoid leaving this impression.

Additionally, companies can almost always afford to pay employees more than they initially offer.

If you don’t ask, you will never know how much they are willing to pay you.

The key is to negotiate properly. 

Ask, “Is there anything more you can do with this salary?”

Be polite. Just because companies have to pay more for talent right now doesn’t mean they like it. And nobody wants to deal with an arrogant person who doesn’t treat others well. If you negotiate poorly, the company could retract your job offer.

The good news is that negotiation is a transferable skill. If you don’t know how to negotiate already, you can and should learn right now to take full advantage of a labor market that is in your favor.

5. Display Commitment To The Company And Position

Companies are generally risk averse when it comes to commitment. 

This aversion is understandable. The hiring process generally costs companies a lot of money. They don’t want to hire someone who leaves after only a few weeks or doesn’t even show up for the first day of work.

As such, one of the biggest reasons that PhDs are not being hired now is that they are not showing commitment during their interviews.

If you get invited to an interview, it means the company wants to hire you.

However, they won’t hire you regardless of wage push inflation if you don’t show them you are serious about the role and the company.

You’ll need to build a rationale for why you’re the best person for the job. 

Explain why the company is your number one choice, which ideally will be something to do with their mission statement, values, etc. Note that every company can be your number one choice when you can offer a different reason for each. Every company wins in the marketplace in a different way, or they wouldn’t be in the marketplace at all. 

You should also prepare for questions that gauge how certain you are about the position. You need to answer them in a way that shows 100% certainty. 

Yes, you can (and should!) be considering other positions. Yes, as a PhD academic, you’ve been taught to never commit or show confirmation bias. 

But that’s not how industry interviews work. 

When you interview, you’re selling yourself. You have to have confirmation bias. You have to tell them that you want to work for them over any other company if you want to be offered the job. 

Concluding Remarks

Wage push inflation can help you get hired into the industry role of your dreams. However, it’s not going to help you unless you become visible, target the right positions, execute a professional job search strategy, interview well, and negotiate properly.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

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Dr. Isaiah Hankel is the Founder and CEO of Cheeky Scientist. His articles, podcasts and trainings are consumed annually by 3 million PhDs in 152 different countries. He has helped PhDs transition into top companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Intel, Dow Chemical, BASF, Merck, Genentech, Home Depot, Nestle, Hilton, SpaceX, Tesla, Syngenta, the CDC, UN and Ford Foundation.

Dr. Hankel has published two bestselling books with Wiley and his methods for getting PhDs hired have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Nature, Forbes, The Guardian, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and Success Magazine.

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