Written By Parthiban Rajasekaran, Ph.D.
I am glad to share the news that I have transitioned to a Field Application Scientist position from academia!
The resources in the Cheeky Scientist Association dashboard and the input from members of the Facebook group were very helpful in every step of my interview process.
It had everything I needed!
I want to share my journey and how I learned to use my PhD to transition into industry.
I learned so much from the whole process that I want to share with you.
1. Network, network, and network.
I cannot stress the importance of networking enough.
A friend referred me to the recruiter who was ultimately responsible for getting me hired.
Initially, I met this friend through online networking.
We had known each other for almost a year, and I made an attempt to meet him in person when I was in his area for a conference.
The in-person meeting makes a huge impact on someone’s opinion of you.
This in-person meeting boosted the rapport I had with this person enough for them to feel comfortable referring me for the position.
2. Take phone screens seriously.
It may seem like an annoying formality, but phone screens are very important.
This is where you make your first impression.
It is also how a recruiter will decide what positions, if any, are a good fit for you.
By taking the first phone call with a recruiter seriously, you will be directed to the job opening at the company that you most are suited for.
Always be open in this initial conversation with recruiters.
Don’t be too focused on one certain position.
Recruiters will have many positions that they are trying to fill and this conversation gives them a chance to see where you will fit.
Also, even if there are not any openings for you at a specific time, keep that relationship open.
The recruiter may have a position available at a later date that is good for you.
3. Explain your technical skills, but don’t be limited by them.
Initially, in your conversation with a recruiter, they will be judging your interpersonal skills.
But, once the recruiter is happy and impressed with your “personal skills” you can talk about your specific technical expertise (note that your technical skills come only after your personal skills).
The recruiter may not have a technical background.
So, by explaining what your expertise is, and what it is relevant to, the recruiter can provide even more assistance.
They may even help you to further fine-tune your resume to the job opening they are recommending.
They know what skills the employer is looking for.
So, if you demonstrate that you have great interpersonal skills initially, a recruiter is more likely to help you align your skills with what the employer is looking for.
This helps your resume to stand out even more.
4. Research the company before your interview.
We are PhDs, and research is what we do best.
So, use that skill to research the company before you have an interview with them, on the phone or in person.
Having a complete understanding of the company, and how your position will help them in achieving their goals, will demonstrate clearly to the employer that you have prepared for the interview.
Being well-prepared for the interview makes you look like a reliable candidate who would make a reliable employee.
You can do this research by looking at the company website or by conducting informational interviews with people who work at the company.
The recruiter may even have some good insights for this, too.
5. Nailing the first part of an interview is key.
An interview may last an hour or more, but the most important part is the very beginning.
The first few minutes of the interview (by phone or in person) will set the tone for the whole interview.
This is when the interviewer will decide if you are a personable candidate.
And, it is very important that you are a personable candidate.
Hiring managers do not want to bring on a new employee who will not fit into their team.
The first impression you make is important, so be focused and prepared as soon as the interview starts.
6. Your interview presentation slides are super important.
An industry presentation is different from an academic presentation.
Be sure to ask what the company wants you to present on.
But, always make sure your presentation is relevant to the focus of the company, and that you use the presentation to showcase both your technical and transferable skills.
The resources available in the Cheeky Scientist Association about how to prepare slides for onsite interviews is the best resource for this that I have ever seen.
This resource helped me immensely.
7. Ask questions during your interview.
The best way to put yourself in a comfortable position during the stressful process of an interview is to ask questions.
Turn the interview back onto them.
Ask questions about the company, about the role, about the future, about goals, etc.
Not only does this take the pressure off you for a moment, it demonstrates your commitment and interest in the company.
Employers want to hire candidates who not only have the right skills, but who are invested in the company.
Asking questions is a great way to show that you are invested.
These are the biggest takeaways from my job search experience and are what enabled me to get hired into industry. I am glad to be a part of this helpful community and I can not thank the members enough. Good luck to those who are searching and applying for their next job. It is just around the corner!
To learn more about how you can transition into an industry career, like Parthiban, 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.
Isaiah believes that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life right now, you should 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.
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