How Following Up Can Get You The PhD Job Of Your Dreams

Niki wanted an industry job.

But, like most PhDs, she didn’t know much about the process of getting hired.

She was in the middle of her second year as a postdoc at the University of Florida (UF) College of Medicine after getting her PhD at UF.

She published several papers during her postdoc and was awarded the 2014 UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute Project Grant.

Niki was successful. But…

She was ready to take on a new challenge. 

She loved research and wanted to continue doing meaningful work at the bench, but she also wanted to be paid well for it.

Niki decided that an R&D Scientist position at a biopharmaceutical company would be a good fit for her and started to apply to jobs online. But…

She didn’t get a lot of responses.

When she did get a response, Niki would read it, write a short reply, and then hope for the best.

If she didn’t hear anything after that, she just let it go.

Why isn’t anyone getting back to me?

Why don’t I have a job yet?

What is my problem?

These are the thoughts that played in Niki’s head over and over again.

People weren’t getting back to Niki because she wasn’t getting back to them.

She didn’t have a job yet because she kept stopping short.

The overall problem was Niki didn’t know how to follow up.

Change Your Thinking, Change Your Career

After months of hitting dead ends, Niki decided to get help.

She stopped trying to do everything herself and joined the Cheeky Scientist Association.

Within 6 weeks of joining, she got the PhD job of her dreams.

Niki completed all of the Industry Insider documents and made strategic changes to her industry résumé and to the way she was networking and interviewing.

Most importantly, she learned how to follow up properly.

Instead of showing up to networking events without a plan, she started creating specific goals for each event and following up with the people she met afterwards.

Instead of leaving an interview and waiting weeks to hear back from the company, she started sending thank you emails and letters the very same day.

Niki was not only strategic, she was consistent. 

She calculated how often her LinkedIn messages were replied to as a percentage and tested new techniques to increase the percentage.

She also created a follow up schedule by putting notes in her calendar reminding her when to follow up with each and every connection she made.

As a result, Niki was hired as an R&D Scientist in the Drug Discovery Division at Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.

This was her dream job. The company had an amazing R&D team and cutting-edge projects that Niki would get to work on daily. And…

The company compensated her very well.

The job was perfect for Niki.

And it happened just like that.

After a few small changes to her strategy, Niki got everything she ever wanted.

Now, she was able to celebrate.

Following Up For That Dream Job | Cheeky Scientist | Nikolett Biel R&D Job

What Niki Did Differently

When a Cheeky Scientist Associate successfully transitions into the non-academic career of their choice, we follow up with them to see how they did it.

What did they do differently?

What strategies worked for them?

Then, we share these answers with the other Associates so they can learn from the experience.

We also share a few of the answers with you so you can turn your story into a success story.

Here are three of the questions we asked Niki along with her answers…

1. Why did you get this job but not others before? Why do you think you succeeded in this case?

Following up. Far and away that was the biggest difference.

I used to reach out on LinkedIn once, never hear anything back, and then give up. Once I started going through the Cheeky Scientist Insider Series I realized I was making a mistake here. I was making a lot of mistakes!

I started following up consistently. I found out that about 50% of the people I reached out to responded. I started keeping track of these people as well as the last time I reached out to them so I knew exactly when was a good time to reach out again.

I also started tweaking my approach and found that by asking good questions I could increase my response rate.

The second biggest thing I changed was my industry résumé.

The truth is my past résumés were embarrassing!

2. If you could go back and talk to yourself 6 months ago, what would you tell yourself?

I would tell myself to first know your value.

It’s easy to feel like you don’t matter in academia. That’s not true though.

PhDs are excellent job candidates. They just don’t know it!

I would have also told myself to get help sooner. It’s easy to think that you know everything as a PhD, or that you at least know the things that matter. But there was a lot I didn’t know.

More practically, I would tell myself to start networking now, not later.

Don’t botch great contacts during graduate school and your postdocs. So many people wait years and years to start networking. What a waste!

Start networking now. Its the most important thing you can do to get an industry job. Make sure you follow up too!

3. Looking back, is there anything you could have done even better? What advice would you give other PhDs trying to transition into industry?

I could have done an EVEN better job following up, especially after interviews.

Instead of waiting a few days after the interview, I should have sent a follow up letter the next morning or even later that day by email!

I also could have done an even better job of following up with recruiters. In most cases I would get off the phone with them and just wait.

Don’t do this! 

Follow up that week. Follow up follow up follow up. Send more follow up thank you emails after the interview than you think are necessary. Trust me. 

By using Niki’s approach to following up after an interview, with recruiters, and other industry contacts on networks like LinkedIn, will help you to get hired faster.

It will also give you a much better chance of finding and landing that dream PhD job you’ve been waiting for.

To learn more about transitioning into industry, 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
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.

Similar Articles

7 Devastating Replies To PhDs Who Thought Their PhD Was Enough To Get Them Hired

7 Devastating Replies To PhDs Who Thought Their PhD Was Enough To Get Them Hired

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

7 Devastating Replies To PhDs Who Thought Their PhD Was Enough To Get Them Hired

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, January 23rd 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, January 23rd 2021

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.…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, January 16th, 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, January 16th, 2021

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.…

How To Ignore Your Advisor & Get Hired In Industry In 2021

How To Ignore Your Advisor & Get Hired In Industry In 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Job referrals lead to better jobs where both you and your employer will be happier with the fit. So, how do you get a job referral? You network. It’s that simple and it’s that hard. You must start forging reciprocal relationships with industry professionals. You need to show you are an open, giving and intelligent PhD, able to make a connection, add value, and then ask for a reference in the appropriate manner. But you can’t be lazy. You can’t be greedy or needy either. There’s a right way and wrong way to network and you need to know both.…

9 Most Emotionally Draining Parts Of A PhD Job Search (& How To Overcome Them)

9 Most Emotionally Draining Parts Of A PhD Job Search (& How To Overcome Them)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Job referrals lead to better jobs where both you and your employer will be happier with the fit. So, how do you get a job referral? You network. It’s that simple and it’s that hard. You must start forging reciprocal relationships with industry professionals. You need to show you are an open, giving and intelligent PhD, able to make a connection, add value, and then ask for a reference in the appropriate manner. But you can’t be lazy. You can’t be greedy or needy either. There’s a right way and wrong way to network and you need to know both.…

Your 2021 Job Search Strategy Is Probably Flawed. Here Are 8 Ways To Fix It

Your 2021 Job Search Strategy Is Probably Flawed. Here Are 8 Ways To Fix It

By: Meerambika Mishra

My job search strategy felt inadequate, it was a painful experience. I was perplexed. My frustration knew no bounds, self pity and doubt shrouded me. I could not understand where I was going wrong. I spent days fixing my resume. Then, applied for one job at a time and waited to hear back from hiring managers and recruiters for 2 weeks before starting with the next job application. I applied for every single job that came my way. The wait was painful, it was excruciating to bear the silence from the other end.  Every moment I questioned myself; why would such…

7 PhD Types Destined To Get Hired In 2021 (& 3 Types Certain To Fail)

7 PhD Types Destined To Get Hired In 2021 (& 3 Types Certain To Fail)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

What is a PhD supposed to do when you send hundreds of resumes out and get nothing back but a few automated responses? This is the question I was trying to answer in my last year of graduate school. I literally sent out hundreds of resumes. I posted my resume to Monster and other resume aggregation sites and waited for the tidal wave of industry PhD job offers to roll in. Of course, this didn’t happen. I polished up a generic resume and uploaded it to dozens of industry job websites. I remember getting on Pfizer and Shire’s websites, clicking…

Why Employers Hire Less PhDs In January And February (& How To Be The Exception)

Why Employers Hire Less PhDs In January And February (& How To Be The Exception)

By: Meerambika Mishra

The holidays were not so happy for my family as my husband was about to be laid off by his employer due to funding restraints at the lab. Employers hire but they truly do not care. We had finally come to realize that academia does not look after people. Even after dedicating our time and effort to writing grants, publishing papers, and tirelessly working for hours in the lab, we were expendable.  This was a wake-up call; the plight of a postdoc in academia. We started sending our resumes to every company in January with the hope of a miracle. Endless…

The 7 Questions You Should Never Ask During An Informational Interview

The 7 Questions You Should Never Ask During An Informational Interview

By: Meerambika Mishra

My postdoc tenure was ending soon but with no possibility of an extension. As a result, the stakes were high and the mere anticipation of the unemployment situation gave me chills. To make matters worse, all I was able to hear from the people around me were unhelpful advice, while information and help were all that I needed.  It was frustrating enough to not have a prospective job, but not knowing my industry fit was even more disheartening. Upon scrolling down job postings, I saw that there were several job profiles that I was unaware of. I knew everything about…

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.