If Your Resume’s Been Rejected 20 Times Or More It’s Probably Missing these 5 Things

Have your resume’s been rejected at the initial or the application stage multiple times?

Or are you not hearing back from the recruiters or the company after uploading your resumes?

Do you feel like you are fighting obscurity?

How can you overcome this passive rejection in your job search?

What is the one thing that can really help when it comes to your resume and cover letter that can fetch you an interview?

I would say it is something very simple….it is something you are taught in the early stages of your grad school.

Something that can be easily applied to the job search strategy, but the one thing that many PhDs get rejected or forget to apply to their job search. And the best part? This is precisely the same thing that the recruiters or employers care about all the way to the interview stage.

This is what one of our Cheeky Scientist Associates had to say about their job search process upon successfully transitioning into the industry – “In the beginning of my job search, I was searching for posted ads, LinkedIn and company websites, tried to do some networking, but I was not successful. The problem was that I was not targeting any specific career, companies, or location. I was basically shooting everywhere that I thought would have some degree of match with my expertise. This approach with inefficient job search was a long and frustrating process. That is when the Cheeky Scientist Association approach guidelines and network make a total difference. In summary, I did around 20 applications, nine screening phone interviews, six long video interviews with members of different teams at the companies, two onsite interviews, and got two offers.

Why Your Resume Is Failing You At The Resume Stage of Your Job Search

Less is more!

Do you find yourself on a resume spree, uploading a single resume to several job postings and ads?

This is the worst thing you could do to yourself while looking for industry jobs. It is more like a self-destruction course you have chosen for yourself.

If your resume’s been rejected and you are still not targeting any specific career, company or location it is equivalent to setting yourself a death-trap.

This is why you need to have a targeted resume

Failure to create a resume that is solely targeted to that one position wouldn’t get you to the 1-2% of the population that lands an interview. rather would be rejected.

Hence, systematically optimizing your job search process is crucial in every step, especially when it comes to writing your resume and cover letter.

How To Craft A Winning Resume And Cover Letter If Your Resume’s Been Rejected

Even before the pandemic hit us, it was evident that academia is dying. Should it be a surprise that the academic job market has now become a nightmare for the PhDs?

While academia is suffering from a bleak future, the number of PhDs looking to transition into the industry is rising with the pandemic.

With such an increasing demand, it is crucial for your resume and cover letter to showcase your skills and abilities to the maximum to avoid getting rejected and to get you to the next stage of hiring: the interview stage. You must be in a position where you have got multiple job offers —that’s right, not just one— to leverage against each other to get the best and highest paying job in the industry. 

1. Narrow Down Your Options, Be Very Specific In What You Want

As mentioned above, to succeed in the job search process, you must know what you want and why you want it.

There is a false belief when it comes to the job search process that by spreading yourself thin, you might land at least one job.

I hate to burst that bubble for you, as spreading yourself thin and sending out generic resumes for all the job postings will not get you any closer to an interview. It will actually repel you from the job you want. 

If your resume’s been rejected you have to instead narrow down your career choices to one or two roles, targeted the companies and the location you want to work in, you are more likely to receive not just one job offer, but from our experience, multiple job offers. 

Companies are looking for your resume to be a perfect match for the position they have outlined. If your resume’s been rejected customizing your resume for each position makes you look like an easy fit and can take you to the next round faster. 

2. Convert Your Informational Interviews Into Job Referrals

Now that you have targeted your roles and companies, it is time to reach out. 

Ruffle up your network, catch up with your colleagues and friends and ask for an introduction to  the employers working in your targeted companies. If you don’t have any mutual connections, steadily increase your network on LinkedIn and other social platforms, where your network can introduce you to the employers.

This is one of the hallmarks of  the Cheeky Scientist Association; we have a network of over 10,000 associates from across the globe. By tapping into this rich network, you can set up informational interviews and get that much-deserved break into the industry.

We have a number of our associates who transitioned into the industry through informational interviews that turned into job referrals or even jobs as such. 

Informational interviews are also pivotal in learning the hidden job market within the companies in the industry.

3. Nail Down Your Rationale… Why Do You Want That Job?

I just need to escape academia.”

I don’t know what else to do?

I didn’t get a postdoc/faculty position, so now I’m jobless!

Are these the reasons why you need the ABC role with XYZ company?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then you are setting yourself up for failure!

Similar to the background section in the journal article, you need to showcase your rationale for the job you are applying for in order to avoid being rejected. The employers need to know that you are that person who’s very committed to and excited for this role and would help their company progress well.

Your cover letter and resume should be highly targeted and must cover the following questions:

  • Why do you want this job at this company at this time?
  • What have you done in the past that’s relevant to what they’re looking for?
  • Why are you the best candidate for the job? 

Taking the words directly from the job posting, and putting them in your cover letter and resume, would be the easiest way to target your resume to the particular job posting if your resume’s been rejected.

4. Embrace Confirmation Bias

You need to have confirmation bias, even when you spent all of your academic training trying to avoid confirmation bias. 

You should be biased for yourself – you want to have absurd levels of confirmation bias. You have to sell yourself in such a way that you are the best person for this job, who can do it better than anybody else. In short, you need to sell yourself for it to avoid being rejected. 

By building a case for yourself, you will be better positioned for portraying yourself as the best person for the job and not get rejected. Every company has pros and cons, choose the top pros of that company and build a case for that company, because you’re going to use that rationale for both yourself and for that company in your cover letter and resume. 

5. Does Your Cover Letter And Resume Highlight These Skills?

An industry role is very dynamic in nature, similar to the dynamic nature of  the industry. What worked for candidates/employers last year or even last month might not be the case currently. This is why as a PhD you should always be one step ahead in the job search process.

However, two skills that employers always look for in a candidate are your ability to adapt or flexibility, communication skills, and autonomy.

We are in one of the most uncertain situations now, with the pandemic and the vaccine rollout. When the companies need to pivot to advance further, they want to know if you are willing to adapt accordingly.

Are you able to communicate both orally and in writing what you know? Are you able to work independently while at home?

Are you good at listening, planning, and organizing process operations?

Can you show you are good at delegation, decisiveness, leadership, influence, persuasiveness, risk mitigation, strategic analysis, and technical professional proficiency?

Concluding Remarks

Academia is dying.

The sooner you transition into the industry after your PhD, the better positioned you are for higher rewards from the industry.

And, this is why a well-planned and organized exit strategy becomes imperative.

By strategizing your job search process and holding yourself accountable for each step, your chances of securing a high-paying job in the industry increase significantly. By narrowing down your job search process to only the jobs and companies you sincerely want to work for, followed up by building a strong professional network, and targeting your resume for each job posting highlighting why you are the best candidate for that role, you would be setting yourself up for success. 

Always remember your value as a PhD!

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.

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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.

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