Cheeky Logo
Ready To Get Hired?
Apply To Book A Free Call With Our Transition Specialist Team

A Great LinkedIn Profile Isn’t Enough – Networking Was The Key That Opened Doors For Me In Industry As A PhD

With my LinkedIn profile and resume polished, I began getting lots of contacts from recruiters that resulted in follow-up phone meetings with hiring managers.

This gave me great experience in asking critical questions about company goals, daily work styles or objectives, and company fit.

Out of 5 phone screens, I got 3 follow up phone interviews and 1 on-site invitation that did not result in an offer.

All the while I kept working hard in my lab and networking.

And here comes the crazy sudden twist: three and a half years ago when I was a newly-minted PhD in vascular biology, my dad (being a classic dad) had been “bragging” about his daughter at a completely unrelated event.

One of his colleague’s spouses mentioned that she’d be happy to hear more about my work.

So, dad told me to email her when I had my conference in San Francisco (her home city).

We met for breakfast.

I didn’t know her quite well so I just thought it would be a nice morning talking to another scientist.

Turns out, she was a team director of a medium sized R&D company in the bay area.

THANK GOODNESS I had no idea before I met her!!!! I probably would have clammed up.

I sent her my long-winded CV after breakfast.

Over the next few years, I would contact her every 6 months or so just to say congrats on her work in a pharma trial or tell her about a paper I thought was interesting.

These emails were usually bare bones dialogue, overall just providing value in small ways over these 3.5 years.

Finally my transition began with a short simple email that went like this:

Hi XX, congrats on the new data! I see your FDA trial had a really impressive outcome for XXX, and I know that your extra data points will assuage any concerns about XXX criticism. Looks like XXX biology saves the day again ☺”

I got an email 2 minutes later.

One of the ideas we had talked about years ago was actually something her company decided to pursue and they had become extremely busy!

She asked, if I was I looking around for new opportunities?

She wanted me to send her a resume and fly out to California as soon as possible.

I asked about a cover letter she said, no need for that, just put me as your reference and they’ll know you’re good to go.

The simple act of emailing someone a couple times a year got me an interview that eventually led to an incredible job offer.

Why Networking Is The Most Important Part Of Your Job Search

If you are using the internet as your main tool for learning about new job opportunities then you are missing out on the vast majority of available jobs.

You’re seeing just the tip of the iceberg, as they say.

For example, PayScale reported that between 70-80% of jobs are not advertised.

Many companies do not advertise positions because the role will be filled through a referral faster than the advertisement can be made.

Other companies incentivise employees and prefer candidates who come with a referral.

The Association For Talent Development reported that you can expect to earn 6% more if you are hired via a referral.

So most positions are never advertised online and you can earn a higher salary if you have a referral.

Networking is essential to a successful job search.

Remember, at the end of the day it is a person who will decide to hire you or not.

Keeping this thought at the forefront of your mind throughout your job search will help remind you of the value of networking, of building relationships.

Networking Is All About Building Relationships: 5 Ways To Build A Great Professional Network

For most, the word networking brings up images of shaking hands and exchanging business cards.

But there is so much more to networking than that.

Real networking, successful networking, is about building professional relationships.

It’s about adding value to others.

It’s not just an exchange of information.

Here are 5 ways that PhDs can start to build a strong professional network by networking the right way…

1. Do not ask for something right away.

This is the #1 rule of networking.

NEVER begin a professional relationship by asking for something.

Asking for a job or a referral right when you meet someone is inappropriate, it is the equivalent of asking a stranger for $5.

They are very unlikely to give you $5.

But, if you have been friends with someone for a while and you ask them for $5 your chance of getting the $5 has skyrocketed.

This is also how networking functions.

You need to build rapport with a person before you ask for anything.

Building rapport means building a relationship, cultivating mutual respect, and creating understanding.

When seeking out new connections, look for people who you find interesting, do not only look for people who you think you can gain something from.

That is not a good way to build up your network.

The amount of time you need to invest in someone before you can make an ask will vary depending on the situation.

But, often if you have been adding value to someone consistently they will reach out to you when they have an opportunity that they think it suitable for you.

This is them reciprocating how you have acted, they are adding value back to you.

2. Stay organized.

When in the middle of a job search you will be building your networking much faster than you would outside of a job search.

This means that you need to be extra organized.

You are not going to be able to just remember everyone you have reached out to, what you have said to them, and when you need to reach out to them again.

Good thing you are a PhD and have incredible organizational skills!

To really excel in your job search networking efforts you should create a spreadsheet where you document everyone that you are networking with.

You can organize this however you like, but it should at minimum contain their name, company, position, the date you reached out to them and a little personalized note about them.

The personalized note section is very important.

The more information you are able to put here the more tailored you can make the information and messages that you send to this new connection and the faster you will be able to build rapport.

3. Become a connector.

You are spending a lot of time and effort networking because you realize that being a part of good professional is important.

Other people think this too.

They also want to grow their networking and meet new awesome people.

So, as your network grows be thinking about how you can connect the people in your network to each other.

This is something that you can practice easily with recruiters.

If they advertise an open position, but you are not a good fit and you know someone who is, recommend that for the position.

Introduce them to one another.

If that person ends up getting hired you have just added an incredible amount of value to both people.

As a PhD you are actually very good at making connections where other people don’t see them.

Use this skill on the people in your network and find people who you think should meet and introduce them.

You will be like a professional matchmaker of sorts.

4. Be very consistent.

Consistency is proven to demonstrate trustworthiness.

Use the organizational system you have created to build consistency into when you are touching base with the people in your network.

Set your own cadence with the reach out.

It could be anywhere from every 2 weeks to every 6 months depending on the type of connection and how much you have to discuss with that person.

Continue with your regular messaging or calling even when you do not get a response from the other person.

Remember you are reaching out to this person to add value to them.

When you reach out, and don’t ask for anything, you are demonstrating that you think they are a valuable person, that you want to be a part of their network.

Even if they don’t respond by reaching out you have added value to them.

So, no matter what type of responses you get keep up with your scheduled reach outs.

Overtime your consistency will pay off.

It’s important to realize that networking can have great benefits in the short term, but when you are able to maintain consistent networking efforts over time you are going to start to see huge benefits.

5. Incorporate in-person, phone and video meetups.

Internet networking is easy, sending email and LinkedIn messages can be done from the comfort of your couch.

But, because it is easy it takes longer to build a relationship online.

A great way to expedite a networking opportunity is to bring the conversation offline when possible.

Start with a phone call.

Make the call short and easy for the other person, have a clear reason for calling.

You can continue with phone calling to build the relationship.

Another great way to build a relationship is with video calls.

Video calls allow you to meet with people all over the world face to face, it also makes meeting with someone local who is very busy easier because they can meet you without having to travel somewhere.

The fastest way to build rapport with someone is to meet in person.

This is not possible with long distance contacts, but if you do live near some of your connections try to set up a coffee or team meet up.

Humans evolved to socialize in person and so much of what you say is lost when you are not meeting in person with someone.

An in-person meetup can take a networking connection to the next level quickly and easily.

So, although online networking is easy, don’t neglect the other forms of connecting with people because they can increase the success you have with networking.

There are many facets to a job search. Yes, you need to have a good resume and you should have a professional LinkedIn profile. But, if you never go out and speak to other people, if you don’t invest in your network your job search will be very difficult. So, get out there and network and when you do follow these guidelines do not ask for something right away, stay organized, become a connector, be very consistent, incorporate in person, phone and video meetups. Building up a strong networking will not only help you get hired in industry, but it will be instrumental to your continued career success.

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 NATALIE FREDRETTE, PHD

Natalie C. Fredrette holds a PhD in Biomedical Science with expertise in endothelial and smooth muscle cell culture, function, and signaling.She has completed research testing drug candidates in hypertension, heart failure, atherosclerosis and vascular inflammation.

Natalie Fredrette, PhD

Similar Articles

6 People to Ignore During Your PhD Job Search

6 People to Ignore During Your PhD Job Search

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

When I first began my industry job search, I didn’t know where to begin. Most of the people I asked for advice had none to offer.  Instead, they were adamant I was making a mistake by leaving academia.  I’d spent the last six years siloed in academia – I didn’t really know that many people who weren’t doing a postdoc or staying on to TA.  But I had heard some encouraging things from a few PhDs that had transitioned to industry.  I was really motivated to try and make the same move, even though I wasn’t sure how to start.…

Why Hiring Managers Often See PhDs As Desperate (& How To Avoid It)

Why Hiring Managers Often See PhDs As Desperate (& How To Avoid It)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Recently, I spoke with an absolutely brilliant physicist. She had a decade of groundbreaking research under her belt, was well-respected and well-known in academia, and she was ready to make the move to an industry career.  And she was stumped.  She couldn’t understand why her job applications had been hitting a brick wall for the last few months. Despite her impressive credentials and numerous publications, she hadn’t received a single interview invitation in months.  The worst part? She’d already stepped away from the research and teaching that had been sustaining her financially.  When she doubled back, thinking maybe it just…

4 Ways To Give Your Social Selling Index A Big Boost

4 Ways To Give Your Social Selling Index A Big Boost

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Growing up, my parents had an adage for everything. And there was one I heard more than any other by far: Nothing worth having ever came easy. These words of wisdom were a lousy rebuttal for the injustices of childhood, but they became the mantra that got me through graduate school.  Maybe that’s why I regarded anything “easy” as weak, lazy, and average – all dirty words in my book. And, without knowing what LinkedIn was really about, I wrote it off as just that: an easy way for lazy people to try and find a job. It was, I…

Your Professional Brand Is Academia. 5 Questions To Change It

Your Professional Brand Is Academia. 5 Questions To Change It

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

What’s your professional brand?  As a researcher, my conclusions are based on proven facts and quantifiable results. The concept of something as subjective as brand or image had never felt particularly relevant to me.  I’d heard the question, of course. When you’ve been looking for a job for over a year, you’re bound to come across the idea.  But now, face to face with a recruiter who had turned me down for a job, I was really trying to come up with an intelligent answer.  “What’s my brand?” I asked. I guess feigning ignorance was one way to go.  “Yes,…

Don’t Ignore These 6 Powerful PhD Job Search Trends

Don’t Ignore These 6 Powerful PhD Job Search Trends

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

What does your job search strategy look like?  If you had to describe it in 2 or 3 sentences, what would you say?  I ask because, if you’re reading this, you’re in the market for a job. Working with PhDs for more than 10 years, I’ve learned one thing is true above all others: The right job strategy is what’s going to get you hired. That’s right: I’m saying that a concrete job search methodology is more important than anything else in your job search.  It’s more important than your skills, your degree, your personality – more important than you,…

A No-Excuses Look at Virtual Networking

A No-Excuses Look at Virtual Networking

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

A lot of PhDs ignore a crucial part of their job search – virtual networking. You may think that because you’re spending a lot of time going to conferences, attending lectures, setting up face-to-face meetings, and checking in with one or two connections when you need a reference or referral that you’ve established your professional network.  Virtual Networking Casts A Wider Net, Even After The Pandemic Nope, you’re networking by halves if you’re only networking in-person. I kept seeing a former colleague of mine at conferences really making the most out of his time networking in person. Everybody knew this…

What To Do When You Feel Invisible On LinkedIn

What To Do When You Feel Invisible On LinkedIn

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

LinkedIn is unlike any other social networking platform.  The similarities are hard to ignore: you post updates – sometimes pictures –  share your opinions and comment on posts others make. But at its core, LinkedIn is very different than Facebook or any other friend-finding, video-sharing, community-connecting network.  LinkedIn is designed specifically to introduce professionals to other professionals. The site’s primary mission is to remove the barriers that make it difficult to connect with peers, your target companies, and the right opportunities.  What kind of opportunities, you might ask? What’s so great about having connections? As a PhD transitioning into industry,…

A Pitch-Perfect Elevator Script For PhDs In Industry

A Pitch-Perfect Elevator Script For PhDs In Industry

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I had heard of the term “elevator script” before my first industry interview.  Was I sure what it meant? No. But I got the gist of it: introduce yourself in a compelling way during an interview or networking session. Don’t annoy someone in an elevator. I dismissed the idea of learning more about it than that If I remember correctly, I told myself that it was nothing more than a remedial gimmick. One of those unnecessary “life hacks” that clueless people gobble up to calm their nerves before an interview.  Definitely not something a PhD graduate with a background in…

Here's The Formula To Hack LinkedIn Recruiter's Algorithm

Here's The Formula To Hack LinkedIn Recruiter's Algorithm

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

LinkedIn is not for academics. This is what I heard over and over again in the latter stages of my PhD program.  If anything, you should have a personal website to share your published papers and research.  And it made sense to me. If I was going to go into academia, shouldn’t I be creating content for other academics? So that’s what I did. And then I dusted off my hands and kept working toward my PhD. I was so committed to the idea of succeeding in academia and becoming a professor. In my mind, there wasn’t really any other…

Here's What Others Are Saying

"I proceeded with the offer we were discussing and i signed the contract a few days ago. I would like to thank you so much for your support throughout this process. it was really helpful and beneficial!"

Samir Tohme

Samir Tohme

Project Engineer, Optical Development & Simulation Expert

at EDL Rethschulte GmbH (FEV Group)

"I am happy to share I am starting a new position!"

Tharcisse Guedegbe

Tharcisse Guedegbe

Policy Researcher

at African Bank Development Group

"I signed with ASML for 117k! (asked for 120 and they came up from 110) plus a 10% target annual bonus."

Andrew Dawes

Andrew Dawes

Senior Applications Engineer

at ASML

"Hi Isaiah, I got hired yesterday!....Thanks for all of your encouragement provided by way of your presentations."

Beverly Brereton

Beverly Brereton

Compliance Manager

at Enel North America

"I'm happy to share that I am starting a new position as Senior Scientist at Eikon Therapeutics!"

Hank Cheng

Hank Cheng

Senior Scientist

at Eikon Therapeutics

"I'm happy to share that I’m starting a new position as an associate computational scientist at md anderson cancer center!"

James Jennings

James Jennings

Associate Computation Scientist

at MD Anderson Cancer Center

"I am happy to share that I'm starting a new position as a European Portfolio Manager at Scientific Instruments!"

 Shikha Acharya

Shikha Acharya

European Portfolio Manager

at Scientific Instruments

"I just accepted an offer to be a Clinical Researcher Coordinator for a pain clinic near me. I'll be helping them run their clinical trial that uses a device to stimulate nerves to relieve patients pain. I start next Wednesday. So excited! I wanted to say thanks to Isaiah and all the members of the Cheeky team for your help! I really appreciate it!"

Natasha Fowler

Natasha Fowler

Clinical Research Coordinator

at Columbia Pain Management, P.C

"Thank you for your support. I greatly benefited from your DD talks on the importance of networking on LinkedIn and resume-building tips. Your team member Meera was very helpful in building my LinkedIn Profile and resume. Thank you!"

 Taranum Sultana

Taranum Sultana

Research Administration

"I'm happy to share that I'm starting a new position as R&D Scientist II at Chemring Sensors and Electronic Systems, Inc.!"

Karim Dawkins

Karim Dawkins

R&D Scientist II

at Chemring Sensors and Electronic Systems, Inc

"I am happy to share that I'm starting a new position as a Research Scientist at Cellecta, Inc.!"

Chaitali Saqcena

Chaitali Saqcena

Research Scientist

at Cellecta, Inc.

"Thank you for the assistance from the CSA these last couple of months. I was offered the position with a life science investment firm this week and I happily accepted the offer. Growth with the company is guaranteed and I hope that this will be the last time I have to interview in NYC (lol)."

Ilke Roelofse

Ilke Roelofse

"I am happy to share I am starting a new position as Principal Fatigue Specialist at Qantas!"

Gemma Paech

Gemma Paech

Principal Fatigue specialist

at Qantas

"I'm happy to share that I'm starting a new position as Founder at Relearning Earning!""

James Wadsworth

James Wadsworth

Founder

at Relearning Earning

"BIG NEWS!! Lufthansa offered me the gig!!"

Marco Milesi

Marco Milesi

at Lufthansa

Top Industry Career eBooks

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.

AI & ATS Resume Filters

AI & ATS Resume Filters

Isaiah Hankel

In today's competitive job market, understanding the impact of AI is crucial for career success. This involves ensuring your resume stands out in the digital realm, mastering your online presence, and being aware of how AI assigns reputation scores. Discovering how to leverage AI to your advantage is essential, as it plays a pivotal role in shaping professional opportunities.

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.