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.

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

ABOUT ISAIAH HANKEL, PHD

CEO, CHEEKY SCIENTIST & SUCCESS MENTOR TO PHDS

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

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…

5 Insider Rapport Building Tips (or, How To Make In Person Networking Non-Dreadful)

5 Insider Rapport Building Tips (or, How To Make In Person Networking Non-Dreadful)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Like many PhDs, I’m an introvert. That means my tendency is to avoid face-to-face interactions at all costs. But when it came time to search for a job in industry, my introverted tactics weren’t working. I was reaching out to people online, even getting a few responses, but in the end, all my efforts fell flat. After months of this, I was right where I started – unemployed. Then, I started noticing what my colleagues were doing; the ones that were getting job referrals and interviews at least. They weren’t just reaching out to people online, they were also attending…

6 Credible Networking Scripts That Make Employers Pay Attention

6 Credible Networking Scripts That Make Employers Pay Attention

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Just as “location, location, location” is the mantra of real estate, “networking, networking, networking” should be your mantra during your industry job search. During the final year of my PhD, I finally conceded – the only way I was going to get a job in industry was through networking. So, like many PhDs, I fired up my computer, hopped on LinkedIn, and clicked the blue “connect” button until my fingers ached. I sent out the same message to each new contact telling them about all my wonderful accomplishments before I asked them for a job. You know what happened after…

Master The Informational Interview (And How To Land A Referral)

Master The Informational Interview (And How To Land A Referral)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

By the time I started my industry job search, I was desperate. I was nearing the end of my PhD and I was consumed with what seemed like a million last-minute tasks – final experiments, last drafts, and defense presentations. I felt like I didn’t have the time to dedicate to my job search. And what little effort and time I did put into it was haphazard. My attempts involved repeatedly clicking the LinkedIn “Connect” button and uploading the same resume to any online job posting I could find. To make matters worse, I wasn’t even sure what job I…

6 Ways PhDs Waste Their Time At In-person Networking Events (And What You Should Do Instead)

6 Ways PhDs Waste Their Time At In-person Networking Events (And What You Should Do Instead)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Networking in person is key to getting a job in industry. Despite knowing this, I avoided doing it at all costs during my PhD. I tried it a few times at scientific conferences, but nothing happened. It seemed pointless. Not only that, but it was down-right scary. And so, like many PhDs, I gave up. I allowed myself to make excuses. I thought “I’m way too busy to attend all these networking events”… or, “I don’t need to network – if I just send out enough resumes online, I’ll surely land a job”. But boy, was I wrong! I can’t…

5 Cheesy Networking Gimmicks To Avoid

5 Cheesy Networking Gimmicks To Avoid

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

During my PhD, I knew that networking was the key to getting a job in industry. And so, I did what every other PhD I knew was doing… I went to conferences equipped with a copy of my resume and a handful of business cards. Then, during breaks, I would follow the crowd out onto the vendor floor. I would wander around aimlessly looking for a vendor that wasn’t busy. The problem was, so was every other PhD that was looking for a job. At the end of a conference, if I handed out all my business cards and shook…

7 Things PhDs Should Always Do When Networking Online

7 Things PhDs Should Always Do When Networking Online

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

If you want to get a PhD-level industry position, you need to set up a networking strategy and invest in your professional relationships. You can build rapport with someone else by networking in person, either at networking events, or over a cup of coffee. However, online networking is another powerful tool you can use to reach out to industry professionals and start a conversation. Do you know how to turn a LinkedIn connection into a job referral? If you don’t, you’re in trouble and are probably missing out on some great opportunities. Take for example the following story a member…

The Wrong Job Search Workflow Most PhDs Follow (& What To Do Instead)

The Wrong Job Search Workflow Most PhDs Follow (& What To Do Instead)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Many PhDs think that getting an industry job is similar to the academic process. They spend a significant amount of time writing peer reviewed journal articles and grants. So, it makes sense for them to spend large amounts of time writing and rewriting their industry resume. They probably had to give oral presentations and conclude their PhDs by going through a dissertation. So, they focus on what they think is the industry equivalent of this process, which is preparing for an interview. Academia teaches that if you go through the publication process, and an oral defense, you will be successful…

The 3 Components Of A Professional Job Search Profile

The 3 Components Of A Professional Job Search Profile

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

The components of your professional job search profile are important. If you want to transition into industry, you need to talk the language of industry and show that to potential referrals and employers. You probably already heard me say this, but do you know what it actually means? It means you need to know how you are portraying yourself from the very first moment you start planning your transition. Even before you start applying for jobs. If you are looking to transition into industry, but are applying to positions using an academic CV instead of an industry resume, you are…

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.