Use This 5-Part Job Search Strategy To Get Multiple Industry Job Interviews And Job Offers As A PhD

Do not despair!

I did 11 years as a postdoc and have been hired in industry.

11 years ago, I did not know that my PhD could open doors in industry, and anyway, I wanted to be a “teacher /researcher” in France (“Maître de conférences”).

My PhD has been the best time for me.

Amazing team, department, and interesting project of research and I was teaching at the University.

I loved it.

Of course, desperation occurred…

…because projects were not working.

…because everything was going too slowly.

…because articles kept being rejected.

…because I could not find a postdoc.

I was passionate, but I did not get that position I dreamed of in France, and events in life made me reconsider my career path.

I heard about CSA and decided to join the Association. I also enrolled for the SMBA group from CSA. No regrets!

I learned how to write a resume, the different career options, the strategy to get an interview, how to interview, and how to think like people think in real world.

I understood why I did not have any responses even when the description of the job was a perfect match with my profile.

And I started to follow the advice and guidance delivered by the group.

I attended career events.

I prepared great tailored resumes, networked, got engaged in associations, jumped into every opportunity to learn new things, to network and organize networking events.

That led me to interview for many roles.

I wanted a position where I had interaction with people.

So I got interviews for a sales representative position, for medical writing positions, and for MSL roles.

I pushed more by going to career fairs, networking events, informational interviews.

I received a lot of answers to interview for medical writing, scientist, and business development.

I was exhausted but it helped me to keep hope.

Then suddenly, I received an offer for a position but I knew it was not the right fit for me.

So I leveraged this offer to help me to speed up the decision for a medical writing position with the company that I wanted.

Amazingly, I received an offer for the medical writing position.

I tried to negotiate and I got a little bit more than they offered originally.

In summary, do not despair, it happens when it is your time, for some it will be at their first application and for others, it will take longer.

Develop your soft skills, be open to any opportunities to meet new people and to help your peers.

Grow your network first, and then apply for the position when you have someone willing to give your resume to the right person.

Why You Need To Understand The Complete Job Search Strategy

Getting a job is not luck.

It is not just going to happen without you taking action and putting in effort.

No one is coming to knock on the door of your lab and offer you a job.

Getting a job requires strategy.

Large companies like Google, Microsoft, Pfizer etc get 1,000s of applications per job opening.

If you are relying on luck to make you the 1:1,000 that gets hired, you are going to be waiting a long time.

Instead, you should be strategic.

Realize that, according to JobScan, 98% of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking software to screen resumes.

And understand that employers care more about your soft skills than they do about your specific technical skills.

Inside Higher Education reported that the most in demand skills according to employers were listening skills (74%), attention to detail (40%) and effective communication (69%).

You need to be taking all this information, and more, into account when crafting your job search strategy.

5 Components Your PhD-Level Job Search Strategy Should Have

It is not just luck.

It is not that employers hate to hire PhDs.

It’s just that you need to have the correct strategy.

There are clear steps and a sequence that you need to apply in your job search.

If you skip a step then your strategy and success will suffer.

From resumes and LinkedIn, to networking, to interviewing, to negotiation… there are right and wrongs ways to execute your job search.

Here are the 5 components that your PhD-level job search should have in the order that you should execute them…

1. Write an industry ready resume.

Rule #1: an industry resume is not the same as your academic CV.

This is the very first thing you need to realize when searching for a job outside of academia.

And your resume is the first thing you need to get ready in your job search.

If you have been uploading your CV to job postings and then not hearing anything back, it’s because employers do not want to see your CV.

They only care about what is relevant to them.

What results have you achieved?

Do you have the right skills (transferable and technical) to get the job done well?

They don’t want to see a long list of your publications or a huge description of the duties and responsibilities you had as a PhD student or postdoc.

Your resume shows an employer that you can be succinct.

It puts your communication skills on display.

So, does your resume look like you are a mad-scientist who just keeps rambling on, or do you look like a professional who can clearly and quickly communicate the important information?

Your resume should only be 2 pages long.

It should have lots of white space and not be packed with text.

Do not change the margins or go below font size 11.

All your bullet points should be one, non-run-on, sentence.

The bullet points should include a transferable skill, technical skill, and a relevant result.

Think about your resume from the perspective of the person reading it, the employers, make your most relevant and impressive results stand out.

Check out this blog for more resume writing resources.

2. Create a professional and complete LinkedIn profile.

Just like your resume is different than your CV, your LinkedIn profile is different from your resume.

It is not good practice to copy and paste your resume into your LinkedIn profile summary.

First of all, it’s lazy.

If an employer looks at your resume and liked it enough to look at your LinkedIn profile to learn more about you, they are going to be very disappointed when they see that your LinkedIn profile is just a copy of your resume.

Opportunity lost.

Your LinkedIn profile is slightly less formal than your resume.

You want to stay professional, but you can be more conversational and talk about some of the things that make you unique.

Start this with your summary.

Think of the summary as the conversation you are having with the person who is viewing your profile.

If you just met someone, would you start listing off your skills and asking for a job?

No. (Don’t do this).

You would introduce yourself, say a bit about what you do, who you are and what you care about — do this in your LinkedIn summary.

But be strategic, use the keywords you know are important for the types of positions you are applying for.

There is so much more to creating a good LinkedIn profile, and you will want to make sure that your entire profile is filled out.

Every section left blank is a lost opportunity to build up your keyword density and appear in more search results.

Check out this blog for more LinkedIn profile resources.

3. Set up informational interviews.

Once you have a resume and LinkedIn profile and is not cringe-worthy, it’s time to start networking.

The most effective way to begin your networking efforts is to set up informational interviews.

Informational interviews are an opportunity for you to meet someone in the industry or position that you are interested in and ask them about their work.

It is not a place to ask for a job.

Use your current network or LinkedIn to find some people who are at your target companies, in your target industry, or in your target position.

Start very small with your ask.

If you don’t know this person at all, just ask a small question about them and their work in your LinkedIn message or email.

If you know them a little or you were introduced to them by a mutual connection, go ahead and ask if they will have a 5 minute chat with you on the phone.

Again, in the conversation ask about them and their work.

Stick to the time you said you would take up.

If the call goes well you can always set up another time to talk and ask more questions.

Once you have built up some rapport with someone, meaning you are starting to build a professional relationship with them, that’s a great time to ask if they would meet you in person.

Maybe you can buy them a coffee?

Meeting in person is the quickest way to grow a professional relationship and someone who has met you in person is much more likely to help you.

Check out this blog for more informational interview resources.

4. Do your research and prepare thoroughly for your interviews.

If you have been called back for an interview, it’s time to get to work.

Do not rest on your PhD qualifications or the fact that you think you meet the job description perfectly.

At the interview the company is deciding if you are someone they want on their team, more than just your technical abilities go into this decision.

So, it’s essential that you do you research.

You are a PhD, research is your superpower, use this to your advantage.

Learn as much as you can about what is currently happening at the company.

Do they have a new product?

A recent merger or acquisition?

A big publication or patent that went through recently?

If you know about these things it creates great talking points and questions that you can ask during the interview.

Also, be sure to research the company culture.

This is for your and the company’s benefit because ensuring that you are a good culture fit is very important to your success in the role.

You can look to social media, informational interview, company reviews and clues during the interview to assess company culture.

Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the preparations you make for your interviews.

Check out this blog for more job interview resources.

5. Acknowledge your fears and negotiate anyway!

The last part of your job search strategy is salary negotiation.

Many PhDs fear this step and end up doing everything they can to avoid it.

But this is how you end up getting paid less than you are worth.

The most important thing about negotiations is to realize that they have started as soon as you first have contact with a company.

They might try a variety of ways to get you to anchor your salary low.

They might ask about your current salary → don’t tell them, reframe the conversation back onto what you will bring to the company.

They might ask about your preferred salary range → tell them you will consider all reasonable offers.

They might say, “If I offered you $X right now, would you take the position.” → tell them I will consider all reasonable offers and would love to see the offer letter.

These are just tactics to try and get you to give the first number so they can pay you as little as possible.

If they continue to push you about salary even when you say that you’ll consider all reasonable offers, consider making a joke about wanting a ridiculous salary, such a $1,000,000.

Even though this is a joke, it makes the first number mentioned very high, and studies have shown it can increase your starting salary amount.

Industry employers expect you to negotiate.

It’s okay to be nervous about it, but don’t let that stop you from asking one simple question:

“Is there anything more you can do in terms of salary?”

Check out this blog for more negotiation resources.

Getting a job in industry is not just going to happen. No one else is going to do the work for you. You need to create a plan, a strategy, and then you need to execute that strategy. A successful PhD level job search strategy has 5 parts, write an industry ready resume, create a professional and complete LinkedIn profile, set up informational interviews, do your research and prepare thoroughly for your interviews, acknowledge your fears and negotiate anyway! A solid job search strategy will get you on the right path to landing the industry job you want.

To learn more about how to Use This 5-Part Job Search Strategy To Get Multiple Industry Job Interviews And Job Offers As A PhD, 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
Pierre-Antoine Crassous, PhD
Pierre-Antoine Crassous, PhD

Pierre-Antoine Crassous holds a PhD in Pharmacology with 10+ years of experience in therapeutic areas like cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, the autonomous nervous system, adrenergic receptors, and pain/perception regulations.

Similar Articles

The 7 Point Plan That Took Me From Networking Novice To The Center Of Connectivity

The 7 Point Plan That Took Me From Networking Novice To The Center Of Connectivity

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

Networking was one of those things I was always doing “tomorrow.”  It was so much easier to sit down and work on my resume, or change some word choices on my LinkedIn. They were easy and they made me feel like I accomplished something. But really it was like treading water.  I tread this water for months, thinking I was moving somewhere but I was only moving with a gentle current. My actions weren’t actually propelling me in any direction. I wasn’t getting any hits on my LinkedIn, I wasn’t getting any call backs on my resume.  Was I not…

How to Conduct An Informational Interview Like A Boss

How to Conduct An Informational Interview Like A Boss

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

When I first decided to do an informational interview, I was nervous.  I’d sit down in front of my computer and look over my dozens of questions. When the time came I clicked on the zoom link and waited for my interviewee to come on. I was always early. I thought that would help me prepare and become less anxious.  However; the waiting always made me less confident. And when the informational interview started, I fumbled through my questions.  The conversation was rigid, forced and awkward silences made up the majority of the time. At the end of every informational…

Intelligent, Powerful Salary Negotiations For PhDs In 5 Simple Steps

Intelligent, Powerful Salary Negotiations For PhDs In 5 Simple Steps

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

Contributing Author: Marios Tsatsos, PhD After my interview, I got a call from the HR department. This was the big phone call – the one about money. I had interviewed well, and the person from HR was calling to let me know he was about to meet with the hiring manager. Hopefully, he said, there would be an offer for me after they met. It was time for the negotiation.  Then he asked about salary…  I didn’t want to give the first number, so I deflected his question with a joke. It worked, and the representative mentioned the first salary…

Why You Should Add A Sidebar Resume To Your PhD Job Search Arsenal

Why You Should Add A Sidebar Resume To Your PhD Job Search Arsenal

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

I couldn’t believe it.  After nearly 25 years of being a “student,” I had done it.  I had earned the right to put 3 letters at the end of my name: P-h-D.  After those 25 years, I felt it was time to leave academia behind, I no longer wanted to be on a college campus anymore, with undergrads, and lifetime academics.  I wanted something more. This was not for me.  So I brushed off my CV which I had used for so many grant proposals, changed a few things here and there, and started posting my ‘resume’ on every job…

Top 3 Cover Letter & Resume Combinations For Getting Hired

Top 3 Cover Letter & Resume Combinations For Getting Hired

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

By the time I received my PhD, I had never held an industry job. I had never been trained in how to create a resume or cover letter.  After college, I watched those going into industry struggle to get jobs, but I was at ease with my PhD lab already picked out, my future was set. I followed these friends on social media as they got jobs…found spouses…started to have children. Meanwhile, I was still glued to my bench trying to squeeze my stipend into a survivable income. I was no longer at ease. I was stuck and uncertain about…

5 Onboarding Steps For PhDs That Protect Your New Industry Job

5 Onboarding Steps For PhDs That Protect Your New Industry Job

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

Onboarding expert and contributing author Sarah Smith, PhD, shares her company onboarding experience. The day I had been waiting for was finally here. My first day in industry. I had been looking for a job for nearly a year, and this one seemed like a great fit for me. I couldn’t wait to get started…But when I showed up, no one was prepared for me to be there. I had no desk. One of my coworkers seemed very annoyed that they had to find a random table for me to sit at. I didn’t have a computer either. I was…

Recessions Are Tough - 3 Ways PhDs Can Be Tougher

Recessions Are Tough - 3 Ways PhDs Can Be Tougher

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Let’s talk about frustration.  I’m talking about the frustration of a rejection in your job search.  Many PhDs are experiencing this kind of frustration in their post-pandemic job search. It’s important for you to understand that Cheeky Scientist has been through this before.  Cheeky Scientist actually came out of the financial crash of 2008 when we were in a recession.  I can tell you firsthand that the mood of the public changes during a recession.  There are fewer jobs.  There’s a greater sense of urgency.  This causes people to get more rejections. And rejection leads to frustration.  So, how can…

7 Video Resume Failures That Make Employers Press “Pause”

7 Video Resume Failures That Make Employers Press “Pause”

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

My very first video resume was embarrassing. At the time, I thought it was pretty good. I had some music going in the background because it seemed like a way to add personality. Bad idea. After reviewing my recording, I noticed there was also a dog barking somewhere in the background. On top of that, the lighting wasn’t very good in the room where I filmed myself. I had shadows on my face, and it made my eyes look a little sunken… However, this seemed fine to me – after all, I was applying for a PhD-level position not a…

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…

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.