8 Tips For PhDs To Jumpstart Their Careers With Social Media

Social media is so fake and shallow.

No one shares their problems – only their accomplishments for bragging rights. 

I hate LinkedIn. I feel like I’m just bragging and using connections for a job.

I don’t have time to keep up with social media as a PhD. I’m busy looking for work!

Sound familiar? I said those same things to myself (and anyone who would listen) whenever I needed an excuse to avoid taking social media seriously as a PhD. 

Of course, having insulated myself with career academics, they validated my gripes, keeping me in my dead-end bubble.

It wasn’t until I took my industry work search seriously when I realized the value and potential of social media for PhDs – and really networking as a whole.

I asked myself, “Where are all the awesome jobs I was promised and why can’t I find them?”

Turns out, 92% of companies recruit employees through social media. 

Plus, 82% of companies prefer hiring referrals over job board applicants because they tend to stay longer. 

You’re even 4x more likely to get the job offer if you find the opening through a referral. 

To top it off, 75% of hiring managers check social media accounts of applicants and while mine didn’t have anything off-putting, my accounts didn’t have much of anything! 

I wasn’t giving hiring managers anything to work with. I spent years publishing, studying, and researching but hadn’t done anything to build my work into a personal brand on social media as a PhD.

How PhDs Can Jumpstart Their Careers With Social Media Networking

My social media game changed as soon as I started approaching it differently. 

I had to admit that while certain parts of social media are shallow and definitely suck, each platform was really what I made it. My social media presence as a PhD was mine for the taking. 

And with COVID-19 restrictions still seriously limiting our ability to network, I’m glad I made this change when I did – and you can too!

1. Use Social Media To Create Your Personal Brand As A PhD

I know it sounds cringe, but social media is all about creating a personal brand for yourself. 

Look at it like this: How do you want people to see you as a PhD and human being? What do you represent and what are your long-term goals? 

Use those answers to craft your profiles.

2. Think About How To Give Back On Social Media As A PhD

Social media is all about sharing – even/especially for PhDs!

Do you have a unique perspective as a PhD?

What would people find interesting about your research?

What tips can you offer others?

Consider what value your experience brings and how you can give back.

3. Don’t Limit Connections Based On What They Can Do For You

Don’t restrict your connections to other PhDs on social media and industry hiring managers. People will know right away you’re only connecting with folks based on what they can do for you.

Instead, connect with anyone in your industry you find interesting – no matter their role or level. You’ll build much more genuine connections and get better results from your effort.

4. Join A Networking Group Dedicated To PhDs

You should by no means limit your social media connections to PhDs. However, a separate dedicated networking group for PhDs can help tremendously. 

Other PhDs in your field who transitioned out of academia can point you in the right direction for improving your social media presence and building the right connections.

And let’s be honest, all us PhDs could stand to improve our transferable skills from those who have been in our shoes.

5. Don’t Listen To Lifelong Academics On Social Media For PhDs

They’re still in academia for a reason. Unless someone’s already transitioned out, they can’t offer the best advice. 

You need social media connections with other PhDs who made the switch – and recently, not a decade ago. 

6. Lift People Up On Social Media As A PhD

Just be supportive and nice. Congratulating someone for a new job is easy but makes a massive impact, for example.

For so many people, social media is their only friendly connection right now. Be a friend! Lift people up and look for ways to help them wherever you can. They’ll return the favor.

You might even realize you actually like some people and walk away with some real friends.

7. Ask Open-Ended Questions On Social Media As A PhD

“What available positions does your company have right now?” doesn’t count either. Get to know people – show them you’re authentic. 

I know for a lot of PhDs this type of small talk feels fake or pointless but it’s important. No one likes people who only ask for things without any real connection – we call those people spam.

8. Don’t Regurgitate Your Resume On LinkedIn 

If you’re like most PhDs, your resume is cold and unapproachable – the opposite of what you need to reflect in your social media presence as a PhD. 

Sure, include your top accomplishments and history but don’t go wild with the details. A simple link where people can learn more is fine. 

Instead, prioritize your transferable skills and interpersonal skills. Show hiring managers and everyone else that you can communicate, work as a team, and understand your place in an industry environment.

Social Media For PhDs: You’re Probably Doing It Wrong

My social media game changed as a PhD when I realized I couldn’t pop into LinkedIn every time I started a job search, hoping it would instantly pay off.

Social media takes consistency and dedication. 

You have to use it to build a personal brand. I know it sounds cringe, but you already have a personal brand through your PhD work. Just use social media to help people understand who you are, what you offer, and what you’ve accomplished. 

Stick with it and I promise you’ll see the same value of social media for PhDs that I do!

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.

Book a Transition Call
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly



Isaiah Hankel, PhD is the Founder and CEO of the largest career training platform for PhDs in the world - 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. Isaiah Hankel received his doctorate in Anatomy & Cell Biology with a focus in immunology and is an expert on biotechnology recruitment and career development.

Isaiah 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.

Isaiah About Photo

Similar Articles

5 Miscalculations That Are Holding You Hostage In Academia

5 Miscalculations That Are Holding You Hostage In Academia

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

As a PhD student, I felt more and more lost the closer I came to graduation. That’s because I had started to doubt that I knew what I wanted anymore. You could say I was torn, but that would be an understatement. I was absolutely wracked with indecision. My original plan had been to continue on in academia.  I was going to apply for a postdoc.  Then on to Assistant Professor.  And so on. However, I was starting to see a real pattern emerge among the PhD graduates I knew. I liked to check in periodically with those colleagues and…

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies January 7, 2023

Best Of Transition: Ph.D. Jobs & Job Search Strategies January 7, 2023

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Is Cheeky Scientist A Scam? Who Shouldn't Join The Association

Is Cheeky Scientist A Scam? Who Shouldn't Join The Association

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Is Cheeky Scientist a scam?   Has anyone here had any experience with the Cheeky Scientist Association? Is Cheeky Scientist worth it?  What’s the deal with Cheeky Scientist? Is Cheeky Scientist legit? PhDs are trained to be critical.  In academia and in life, every decision they’re faced with is made with extreme prejudice. Examining facts, collecting resources, and determining what is a trustworthy source of information is one of their biggest strengths.  PhDs have superior critical thinking skills, so it makes sense for them to carefully consider any investment – even if it’s an investment in themselves. And in almost every…

4 Red-Hot Intellectual Property Positions For PhDs

4 Red-Hot Intellectual Property Positions For PhDs

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I just got off the phone with an old friend of mine.  We were researchers at the same lab back in our university days. We had lost touch, but when he found me on LinkedIn I couldn’t wait to hear what he’s done since graduation.  He told me he had not wound up in chemistry, which had been his major. Biomolecular chemistry, he reminded me. Instead, he decided to pursue a career in patent law.  Here’s his transition story: I was in the process of earning my PhD in biomolecular chemistry. That’s where I learned that patents were unrecognized by…

Should You Delete Your PhD From Your Resume? The Answer May Surprise You

Should You Delete Your PhD From Your Resume? The Answer May Surprise You

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

If you have a PhD, you’re overqualified for an industry job. PhDs are lab rats and can’t understand business. You can’t get a job without industry experience. Do any of these sentences sound familiar to you? Have you been looking for an industry job unsuccessfully and have reached a point where you ask yourself if your PhD has any value whatsoever? These sentences are myths, commonly said by either academics who don’t understand anything about industry, or by other job candidates who don’t want to compete with PhDs. Hiring managers for PhD-level industry positions want the best candidates possible. After…

4 Skills PhDs Have That Employers Are Desperately Seeking

4 Skills PhDs Have That Employers Are Desperately Seeking

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

The number of PhDs wanting to transition out of academia increases every year. Initially, most of these PhDs were recent graduates and postdocs.  But as the crisis in academia has gotten worse, we are seeing a lot of adjunct and even tenured professors wanting to leave. They feel professionally unfulfilled in academic positions because they are overworked, work in uninspiring roles, and/or are paid marginal academic stipends, fellowships, and wages.  Far too many PhDs are unable to find any meaning or joy in their academic careers, which negatively impacts both their professional and personal lives. Unfortunately, many of these PhDs end up…

The Exciting (or, Dreadful) First 90 Days Of A New Job. Here's What To Expect

The Exciting (or, Dreadful) First 90 Days Of A New Job. Here's What To Expect

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Like many PhDs, I thought I could jump into my first industry position ready to hit the ground running. Much to my surprise, this was not the case.   During the first few months of my new position, I felt like I was drowning. Everything I thought I knew about my field, how research is conducted, and how companies operate was turned on its head. I was not prepared for this major shift, and it showed. I waivered between trying to impress my managers and sitting mute in meetings, intimidated by everyone in the room. If I had known what…

The Inside Scoop On The Industry Onboarding Process

The Inside Scoop On The Industry Onboarding Process

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Nothing could prepare me for the shock I received walking into my first industry onboarding experience. Literally, everything was different from what I had experienced in academia. The processes, the culture, the pace – absolutely everything. I also had no idea what onboarding meant. I heard the word tossed around but, to me, it was just the process you went through to get all the mandatory paperwork out of the way. That was so far from the truth. My first onboarding experience lasted almost 6 months. Yet, throughout that whole process, I had no idea that I was still being…

How To Get A Referral Without The Messy Emotions

How To Get A Referral Without The Messy Emotions

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Towards the end of my PhD, I felt like I was racing time. And time was winning. I was frantically trying to wrap up loose ends in my research, finish writing my thesis, all the while trying to find a job. I knew I wanted a job in industry. In fact, I knew exactly the job I wanted. I just didn’t know how to get there. I was sending my resume off into the abyss of the internet, but I wasn’t getting any replies. I couldn’t fathom what I was doing wrong. The whole thing felt pointless. Now, looking back…

Top Industry Career eBooks

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

63 Best Industry Positions For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the best 63 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.