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!

Ready to take control of your LinkedIn presence? Download the Cheeky Scientist eBook: The Complete Guide to LinkedIn for PhDs to learn our strategies for unlocking top-tier industry positions through referrals.

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Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD Chief Executive Officer at Cheeky Scientist

Isaiah Hankel holds a PhD in Anatomy and Cell Biology. An expert in the biotechnology industry, he specializes in helping other PhDs transition into cutting-edge industry career tracks.

Isaiah believes--from personal experience--that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life, it’s a clear sign that you need to make a change. Don’t sit still and wait for the world to tell you what to do. Start a new project. Build your own business. Take action. Experimentation is the best teacher.

Isaiah is an internationally recognized Fortune 500 consultant, CEO of Cheeky Scientist, and author of the straight-talk bestsellers Black Hole Focus and The Science of Intelligent Achievement.

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