Top 5 Reasons Your PhD LinkedIn Profile Is Not As Great As You Think It Is

As a PhD in academia, I never thought I would need a LinkedIn profile.

I was highly qualified and doing well with several publications.

I did not think I needed the support of an online platform to move forward in my career.

So when I became aware of LinkedIn during my PhD, I did not even create a profile on it.

I simply did not like the idea of online networking.

In fact I was biased against it; I strongly believed that I should be known and appreciated through my work.

Online networking seemed such a superficial way to interact, as a researcher I believed in having deep, engaging conversations with peers on absolutely everything.

Nothing would convince me to reconsider. Almost nothing, that is.

The penny finally dropped during a career workshop at an academic conference.

The workshop leader talked about the importance of LinkedIn for career advancement.

The workshop leader described LinkedIn as a tool to share and discuss state-of-art research and as a way to connect with professionals from distant places.

She also talked about LinkedIn being an indispensable tool for recruitment.

I was vaguely discomfited, but still not fully convinced.

Then, suddenly, the topic of LinkedIn seemed to come up everywhere – in conferences, journal clubs, career fairs, postdoc associations, you name it.

It seemed like there was no way around it.

I was still not excited about the idea, but looked up online about LinkedIn.

It seemed all right, but was it professional enough? Would the quality stay the same in the future?

After some thought I created my own LinkedIn account, and filled up my profile with minimum of details about myself.

I connected with a few known people.

I had no clue where this was going; being on LinkedIn had changed nothing for me.

Until I chanced upon an online webinar on LinkedIn.

It discussed about the ways in which one could leverage LinkedIn to make career progress.

It emphasized on being proactive in creating a professional LinkedIn profile and making one’s presence known through networking and engagement online.

It also discussed about how an active LinkedIn presence attracts recruiters and job opportunities.

I was amazed. Clearly, there were careers to be made through LinkedIn!

It was then that I decided to try it.

I created a professional LinkedIn profile that told my story.

I reached out to connect with people I knew, and people that I found interesting.

I started posting links to articles, events or news that I found exciting.

I ‘talked’ to people whose posts I found interesting by commenting on them.

The results and response I received astounded me.

It seemed as though floodgates of opportunity opened for me.

Through my network and the resources that they were sharing online, I learnt many new things I had known nothing about.

People reached out to me to connect with me – professionals who were in advanced positions in their organizations, peers, students.

I even had recruiters reaching out to me to discuss potential job opportunities.

I was delighted!

Why A Great LinkedIn Profile Is A Key Job Search Element For PhDs

According to its parent company Microsoft, LinkedIn has 630 million professionals in over 200 countries registered as members.

Over 30,000 companies in the US use LinkedIn for recruiting new hires, and over 3 million US jobs are posted on LinkedIn every month.

Hiring trends in industry show that employers are increasingly factoring in the social media profiles of job candidates in their recruitment processes.

CareerBuilder reports that over 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates; 43% to check on their current employees.

That means, a professional LinkedIn profile and online engagement is a critical component of job search strategy for PhDs.

What does your LinkedIn profile look like?

Are you portrayed as an industry professional? Or a PhD student?

There are so many people using LinkedIn and you need to be identifying and building relationships with relevant parties.

According to a study by Federal Reserve Bank of New York, job candidates referred by an internal employee are 40% more likely to be hired in that company.

Have you been getting referrals?

It’s time to switch up your LinkedIn strategy so you can start getting job referrals that get you hired.

A professional LinkedIn profile can get you hired in industry.

Top 5 Reasons Your LinkedIn Profile Is Not Helping You In Your Job Search

In academia, PhDs are used to doing their research independently and then publish it to build their credibility as experts in their field.

All career progress in academia proceeds from there – publications and references from research supervisors are the currency that gets them the next job.

The next job is usually another postdoc.

Industry hiring decisions are made differently.

In industry, employers are looking not only at specialist know how but also transferable skills and behavioral profiles of job candidates.

Employers pay close attention to a candidate’s social media presence and footprint while making their hiring decisions.

As the world’s largest professional social media platform, LinkedIn is the first place employers will check to vet a candidate.

A well-crafted LinkedIn profile and online engagement are key to making a great impression on prospective employers.

However, many PhDs do not invest enough effort toward building their LinkedIn profiles.

These are the top 5 reasons why your LinkedIn profile can fail to make a great impression…

1. Your LinkedIn lacks a ‘Personal Brand’.

Although branding is a concept for businesses, the increasing influence of social media has made it important for job seekers to build a personal brand.

What is a personal brand?

According to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

In other words, an individual’s personal brand is the unique combination of skills and experience they possess that can be of value to the company.

It is a person’s unique value proposition.

What is your UVP?

What image do you want to portray online?

What image are you currently portraying?

PhDs must master the art of managing their online presence and reputation in order to stay current in the job market.

Job seekers must be ready and able to communicate clearly who they are and what value they can bring to the company.

PhDs must focus on creating an effective and credible personal brand that helps them build trust with employers.

A well-crafted, professional LinkedIn profile with key details that tell a story is a great asset for PhDs looking to transition into industry careers.

2. Your LinkedIn network is stagnant.

A great LinkedIn profile is critical part of job search strategy, but it is not enough to get an industry job.

A great LinkedIn profile is only the first step.

PhDs serious about their job search must get serious about networking.

Networking is the key that will open career opportunities in industry for you.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional online platform and it is where employers go to look for their future hires.

A major advantage of LinkedIn is that it is an online platform, with members from over 200 countries.

According to Forbes, over 45% of people on LinkedIn are upper management.

These are the people who make hiring decisions in their companies.

No matter where you are located, you can leverage LinkedIn to connect with these people and build a network that will facilitate your career transition.

PhDs can discover valuable industry contacts through special interest groups, alumni associations and their second-degree connections on LinkedIn.

You can then network with industry professionals and build relationships that will help you advance your career.

Just having a profile and then sitting back is not enough.

You need to build a network around you.

A personalized, professional approach to connecting with industry professionals will help build a solid network over time.

3. You are not engaging with your network.

An excellent LinkedIn profile and robust professional network are a great way to start building a solid job search strategy.

However, a passive online presence, even on LinkedIn, is not sufficient to land a job.

You cannot just sit back and expect people to come to you.

No one knows who you are.

What will actually drive a PhD level job search is your engagement on LinkedIn.

A great LinkedIn profile will tell your network of your accomplishments, expertise and interests so far in your career.

It does not demonstrate the transferable skills you will bring to your future roles.

You can leverage LinkedIn to highlight your transferable skills by communicating and interacting with people on the platform.

Professional comments on relevant LinkedIn posts, sharing valuable content or information online, joining special interest groups are all ways to demonstrate transferable skills.

It will make your profile stand out and show recruiters that you are serious about your career and job search.

It will help you secure informational interviews that will give you precious knowledge and insights into the role and company you are interested in joining.

Plus, the more active you are on LinkedIn the more that the LinkedIn algorithm will show your profile to potential employers and recruiters.

4. You are not nurturing the people in your network.

The ultimate goal of networking on LinkedIn is to secure a job referral.

The key to securing a job referral is through building rapport and trust in your relationships with industry professionals in your network.

The best way to build rapport is through consistently adding value to your network, showing interest and commitment to their cause.

In an ideal networking scenario, the relationship comes to an optimal point where requesting or receiving a referral comes naturally.

Build your network before you need it.

Always give before you ask.

Nurture your network continually.

Add value.

Always add value.

Actively seek opportunities to add value to your network.

You can add value to your network through celebrating their success, sharing your knowledge or resources, connecting people in your network to each other and valuing their advice or contributions.

Adding value to your current network will ensure that you will receive critical support in your job search from your when you need it.

Yes, this takes effort.

You will need to commit to learning about the people in your network and spend time investing in the relationships you have with them.

But it will benefit you.

Don’t skimp on this part of your LinkedIn strategy, it is the most important piece.

5. Your network consists of just other PhDs.

Have a look through your LinkedIn contacts.

If the majority of them are PhDs or are people in academia you need to make a shift.

People in academia cannot help you get hired in industry.

You need to talk with more than just other PhDs when making your transition out of academia.

A diverse network is critical in facilitating key career transitions.

Additionally, you are not going to have the same job forever.

This means that you must prepare for job changes throughout your careers.

Job or career change can come through promotions within or across departments in the same company, or through change in employer or field.

Regardless of what stage you are at in your career, you must be continually building, nurturing and diversifying your network.

Remember that your network is your net worth.

PhDs preparing for a career in industry must learn to leverage the power of their network to forge ahead in their careers.

Never forget that many excellent opportunities in your career will come through loose connections!

A great LinkedIn profile is a key part of your job search strategy as a PhD. A well-crafted LinkedIn strategy will help you get hired, while a poorly conceived strategy will hinder you. If your LinkedIn lacks a ‘Personal Brand’, your LinkedIn network is stagnant, you are not engaging with your network, you are not nurturing the people in your network and your network consists of just other PhDs then you need to reevaluate your LinkedIn strategy in order to find success in your job search.

To learn more about the Top 5 Reasons Your PhD LinkedIn Profile Is Not As Great As You Think It Is, 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.

Join Cheeky Scientist Association
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly
Surayya Taranum
Surayya Taranum

Surayya is a PhD in Biochemistry and is currently a cohort member at Entrepreneur First in Paris. She is also Director of Membership at the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Paris Chapter, and Communications Lead in its Entrepreneurship Group for Women. Surayya is passionate about biology, science communication, and inclusive leadership. She is also an avid reader and hiker.

Similar Articles

Is Your LinkedIn The Cause Of Employers Ghosting You? 7 Techniques To Get Noticed On LinkedIn

Is Your LinkedIn The Cause Of Employers Ghosting You? 7 Techniques To Get Noticed On LinkedIn

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I began my job search optimistic and determined. There was a job posting that seemed to be written specifically for me. I had all the qualifications, the work was extremely interesting. It was as if I had written exactly what I was looking for in a job and there it was on a job site. I spent all my time on the resume and did not touch my LinkedIn. I felt for sure I would get it, it was just too perfect. Finally, I hit “submit” and waited. For weeks, I heard nothing but I was patient. Then I got…

7 Surprising Moments To Use Silence During An Interview

7 Surprising Moments To Use Silence During An Interview

By: Alejandra Viviescas, PhD

I remember this interview as if it was yesterday. I was just a couple of months out of grad school and actively reaching out to potential clients to establish myself as a freelance medical writer. My biggest mistake was not using silence to my advantage.  This was my third round of interview with this client – I had already made it through the phone screen and the writing test – and it was supposed to be the last. It was a virtual panel interview with the lead editor and fact checker.  I had been preparing for this for weeks, researching…

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

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

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

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…

3 Techniques To Climb Your Way To the Top of LinkedIn Keyword Searches

3 Techniques To Climb Your Way To the Top of LinkedIn Keyword Searches

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

When I told my labmates I was working on my LinkedIn profile, they said what for? In their eyes LinkedIn was not for academics. Obviously, since I was getting a PhD in academia, there was no place for me in industry, I had to stay in academia. And so, I stopped asking them to connect. I stopped asking other academics within my university to connect too, and soon I stopped asking everyone to connect. My LinkedIn profile laid dormant for several years while I went through grad school. As I neared the end of my PhD, I realized I wasn’t…

5 Ways To Protect Your Informational Interview And Get A Job Referral

5 Ways To Protect Your Informational Interview And Get A Job Referral

By: Aditya Sharma, PhD

The world is your canvas. What does that even mean? I was a PhD looking for an industry job, and that was the kind of advice I used to get. But this one I really struggled with: You’re a PhD – you can do anything. Hearing this sentiment over and over again was not empowering for me, but infuriating. Why? Because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Sure, I could do anything…  But that still left me very lost. The tide shifted when I discovered informational interviews. An informational interview is when you contact a stranger and ask…

Follow These 5 Resume Rules For A Successful Job Search

Follow These 5 Resume Rules For A Successful Job Search

By: Aditya Sharma, PhD

Are you submitting your resume to online job postings? You might be surprised to learn that your resume is never even seen by a human being. 98% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking software, according to Jobscan. Large-size firms (those that employ more than 500 individuals) receive many thousands of resumes every week. The only way their hiring departments can be functional is by using tracking software to weed out unqualified candidates. This puts applicants in kind of a tough spot - optimize your resume to get through the tracking software or get used to rejection. Even highly qualified…

A Great LinkedIn Profile Isn't Enough - Networking Was The Key That Opened Doors For Me In Industry As A PhD

A Great LinkedIn Profile Isn't Enough - Networking Was The Key That Opened Doors For Me In Industry As A PhD

By: Natalie Fredrette, PhD

If you are using the internet as your main tool for learning about new job opportunities then you are missing out on the vast majority of available jobs. You’re seeing just the tip of the iceberg, as they say. For example, PayScale reported that between 70-80% of jobs are not advertised. Many companies do not advertise positions because the role will be filled through a referral faster than the advertisement can be made. Other companies incentivise employees and prefer candidates who come with a referral. The Association For Talent Development reported that you can expect to earn 6% more if…

7 Actionable Strategies To Build A Strong LinkedIn Network When You Are A PhD With No Industry Experience

7 Actionable Strategies To Build A Strong LinkedIn Network When You Are A PhD With No Industry Experience

By: Michael Pace, PhD

LinkedIn is a huge professional networking platform and it is growing. Hootsuite reported that 2 people join LinkedIn every second and, LinkedIn currently has more than 590 million users. This is an incredible resource for you to leverage. If you are not using LinkedIn you are missing out on a powerful resource. Plus, Forbes reported that 45% of the people on LinkedIn are in upper management. This is a place where you can connect with and learn from company leaders. Within the vast network of LinkedIn you will be able to find people in the companies and positions that you…

Highlight These 3 Transferable Skills To Get Hired In Industry As A PhD

Highlight These 3 Transferable Skills To Get Hired In Industry As A PhD

By: Olga Raguimova, PhD

As a PhD is it’s difficult to let go of thinking that your technical skills are the most valuable thing you will bring to an organization. But, you need to realize that your transferable skills are what will be the deciding factor in whether you get hired or not. A recent survey by Yoh, found that 75% of Americans would hire someone who had the right soft skills but lacked the technical skills required for the position. Companies are more concerned about how you will fit into the culture of the organization than they are about the technical skills you…

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.

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the top 20 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.