7 Steps To Take Before The “Second Wave” Of Hiring Freezes

When I started writing my dissertation in September, I kept my head down. I was focused and determined. I ignored all social gatherings, all other responsibilities, this was my prime directive. 200 pages later, it was done, approved by my committee and my defense date was set, March 7th, 2020. 

The defense went great, standing room only. For the first time in months, I could breathe. 

Little did I know this would be the last in-person defense at my campus for the foreseeable future.

Not even 10 days later, the world would shut down, the pandemic closed everything. I was amazed at how fast everything came to a rapid halt. 

Suddenly, my euphoria of graduating seemed pointless. There would be no graduation.

My PhD seemed meaningless in the wake of the pandemic.

It was a dark time, not just for me but for everyone. We were all in this ‘new normal’ together. But no one knew what that really meant. 

It meant hiring freezes, layoffs, unemployment. It meant career instability and widespread fear and anxiety across the globe. Everyone was in hiding, everyone was unemployed.

Job postings declined, networking opportunities collapsed, my career prospects crumbled. 

But it was also filled with silver linings, an opportunity to reinvent and to grow. As a country, we got a collected opportunity to slow down. 

I suddenly had a lot more free time to think about what I wanted in a career and which paths were truly best for me. I had never had that opportunity before. 

I seized this opportunity to focus on my resume, career objectives, and LinkedIn profile. I got a few informational interviews and made connections with people in various industries. After a few months, I got hired.

But as the pandemic progresses and changes, the “second wave” of hiring freezes is looming. The opportunity is closing. Do not go back to the darkness we faced a few months ago. The time to act is now.

Here are 7 steps to take to secure a job before the “Second Wave” of hiring freezes

What Is The “Second Wave” Of Hiring Freezes?

It may not seem like it, but we are in the middle of the 6-week mid-year hiring boom. 

The world is transitioning again. Many countries are beginning to reopen to some degree. While others are beginning to close down again. The job market is shifting and the stimulus packages in many countries are ending. This means that in a few weeks millions of people getting by on unemployment will need to find jobs to survive.

They will flood the job market. The time to get hired is now, before the end of the stimulus and the next wave of shutdowns. 

All the hiring that typically occurs throughout the year is happening now. 

While companies know they can hire people. They also know the second hiring freeze is coming. 

They have a game plan. Do you?

The 7 Steps To Take Before The Second Wave Of Hiring Freezes

1. You need to commit 

We all know commitment, you can’t get a PhD without it. PhDs are great at committing to a project, reaching deadlines, and analyzing data. But so many PhDs fail to transfer this same level of commitment to their job search.  

PhDs fail to commit to themselves.

Many PhDs produce just one resume, in one format and blast it all over the internet in hopes someone will see their value. 

It’s quick, it’s dirty, and it doesn’t work.

This is your opportunity to commit to your job search and your future career.

You must understand industry and how trends in your field are changing. How do interviews work for a particular career path. Committing to understanding industry trends will make you a stronger candidate and feel more comfortable throughout the hiring process. 

You need to show companies you are committed. In this pandemic time, or any recession, everyone is full of anxiety or uncertainty.

When you commit, you convey certainty. You reduce anxiety from companies and this is what they need right now.

During uncertain times, companies will commit to candidates that represent less risk. 

2. Broaden your job search 

Now is a great time to understand your options. Understand that there are many high paying career tracks suitable for PhDs. PhDs are often siloed into a very narrow field and are expected to perform every job within their project. 

This is not how it works in industry.

For example, a PhD might be researching how gut microbes are impacted during Cholera infection. This is very specific. But you can apply that background into many industry areas.

You could look at research jobs in infectious disease or development jobs in big pharma. You could move away from the bench into medical science liaison or medical writing and focus on compiling and communicating data. 

A PhD involving analyzing sequencing data or involving a lot of statistics provides the right skillset to become a data scientist. 

PhDs have been tasked with managing multiple projects at once, meaning they have the experience and skills needed for project management roles. 

Figure out what aspect of your PhD you really loved and explore all the roles where you can apply that skillset in industry. 

Your PhD is not useless if you transition into a new field. 

The main skill you developed –  research and analysis –  are valued in industry and are necessary for many career tracks. 

So, broaden your job search, you might be surprised at what new career opportunities you’ll find. 

3. Create an industry savvy resume

Having a bad resume is the #1 reason PhDs don’t get hired into industry. 

A hiring manager doesn’t care about, nor understands, a job title like “Postdoc” or “PhD Candidate.” This information is useless. A savvy industry resume includes industry language, not academic job titles.

They want to know what you can do and what value you add to the company.

In addition, during a recession, resumes should highlight key transferable skills that companies are desperately looking for, which include communication, versatility, and flexibility. 

This makes you less of a risk to the company and shows you are up to date with current trends.

PhDs often don’t include transferable skills in their resume because they think they don’t have any. However, no matter what field, PhDs gain these skills throughout their time in academia. 

There are three types of transferable skills, (i) self-oriented (i.e. work ethic, autonomy), (ii) people-oriented (i.e. project management, virtual collaboration), and (iii) systems-oriented (i.e. risk management & risk mitigation). 

It’s important to include transferable skills from all three types. 

The format of the resume is also very important as it needs to highlight your achievements in a quick and effective way. 

The best way to do this is by using a combination resume. This format discusses top industry skills and the results achieved. 

4. Stockpile your connections

There has never been a better time to connect with people remotely. Many people have faced a new surge of free time and have adjusted to remote work. This means that many of the technical problems with setting up remote meetings have been removed. Everyone’s lives have shifted in the past few months.

The way things have changed is a great conversation starter as it impacts everyone in different ways. 

It’s perfect for reaching out to people, connecting, and setting up informational interviews. 

Informational interviews can quickly turn into referrals. Referrals are the fastest track to getting hired and successfully transitioning into industry.

Employees who are referred will stay twice as long at a company than employees hired from job boards. Without a referral, the hiring process can take almost 2 months. Many PhDs don’t have 2 months. Referred hiring typically only takes 29 days

A referral is your best chance of getting hired in the next few weeks. 

Referrals are a big ask but both sides can benefit. With a proper networking strategy, good rapport can be established which will add value to both sides. In addition, at most companies, if someone refers a successful hire, they will likely get a bonus, which can be up to $2,000.

5. Research the hiring process of your target position

Each career track has a slightly different hiring process. For example, data scientist applications include an assessment test while a medical writing application might include an editing and/or writing test. 

Being prepared for these tests will make you a stronger candidate and reduce your own anxiety about the job search process. 

The CheekyScientist advanced programs go through the specific hiring process for each career. 

But there are some universal hiring processes to know. The most obvious one is that interviews are now done 100% remotely. 

Here are 5 tips to best prepare for the remote interview process: 

  1. Do a trial run first (What does it look like? Does something need to be removed?)
  2. Set up your camera and microphone (Are you loud enough?)
  3. Dress professionally (it doesn’t matter if they can only see you from the waist or shoulders up, dressing nicely will make you feel more confident and will improve your posture)
  4. Know your body language (Do you talk with your hands? This can be distracting)
  5. Engage with all those you are interviewing with (It’s easy to gravitate towards one person but they all may make the decision on who to hire).

 6. Identify pandemic-proof positions

There are positions that not only survived but thrived during the first hiring freeze. They will survive the second hiring freeze as well. In a matter of days, the whole world shifted from an office-oriented workforce to entirely remote locations.

Pandemic-proof positions are jobs that can survive major shifts and are necessary regardless of the larger situation. 

It is no coincidence that these positions are in line with the Cheeky Scientist advanced programs.

These are positions like data scientist, medical writing, project manager, and research and development scientist. 

Data scientists and medical writers can easily work remotely and they have a lot of work to do right now.

Likewise, research and development scientists are always in demand. This is field offers the innovation we need to get through pandemics and recessions. 

Moving to a remote-work structure on a short notice takes a lot of coordination. It is harder to manage teams, this is why project management positions skyrocketed during the recession.

Focusing on these careers is a great way to boost your chances of getting hired and staying hired when the next wave hits. 

7. Apply to many jobs at once

It takes a lot of time to apply to a job, especially when submitting a high quality curated resume for each position. However, you don’t want to apply to just one job and wait to hear back. 

You want to apply to as many jobs as possible. As you wait to hear from one employer, you should be submitting applications to another. Job search is a numbers game. Fact, you will face rejection in your job search. It shouldn’t be debilitating and it won’t be with other applications out there. 

Furthermore, by applying to many jobs at once you are also increasing your chances of getting multiple offers at the same time. 

If you get multiple offers, you get to choose which is best and gain leveraging power during salary negotiation. 

Concluding Remarks

It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when the “Second wave” is coming. And that time is approaching quickly. Companies know they need to hire now. Taking these 7 steps will drastically increase your chances of getting hired: (i) commit, (ii) broaden your search, (iii) create an industry savvy resume, (iv) stockpile your connections, (v) know the hiring process, (vi) choose pandemic proof positions, and (vii) apply to more than one job. 

To learn more about protecting to your PhD career, 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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Sarah Smith, PhD
Sarah Smith, PhD

Sarah Smith, PhD, holds a degree in Biochemistry. A tireless science consultant at large, her rigorous pursuit of pristine labwork is unflinching. Yet Sarah’s keenest passion--guiding emergent academics into the business world--stems from personal experience with the transitional struggles she would have no PhD face alone.

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