Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist

Join Isaiah as he explains why employers are not hiring based on technical skills and how can PhDs communicate their value to the employers 

Here’s a quick rundown of this week’s episode…

  • First, Isaiah discusses why employers look beyond technical skills
  • Next, Isaiah reveals what are the transferable skills
  • Finally, Isaiah explains how PhDs can communicate their skills to the employers

From This Week’s Show… 

Why Employers Are Looking Beyond Your Technical Skills

PhDs love their technical skills. When I landed one of my first industry jobs, I thought I was adding value to my team by talking about technical skills. Things like “statistical significance”, “reproducibility” and a hundred other academically minded concepts. This language was awkward and irrelevant for the position I was just hired into. My recruiters and colleagues thought, “What is he talking about? Is he trying to teach us a basics stats class right now? We’re not an academic lab functioning on $50,000 a month. Rather we’re a 100 million dollar plus a year company. 

Companies need you to focus on bigger, more business-minded concepts. Like integrating your efforts within their Agile project management system, gaining awareness of their brand. Or helping them develop some new conference collateral, and ensuring the R&D product pipeline stays full. “Agile project management” “brand awareness” “conference collateral” “product pipeline”.  I knew the general definition of these words and understood them a little. But I could not converse intelligently about them relative to the company’s specific goals, products, processes and larger vocabulary. 

If you want to get hired into an industry job, you have to start speaking the language of industry. And this starts with understanding which skills industry employers value the most.  

What Are Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are the softer skills that transfer from sector to sector, company to company and job to job in industry. PhDs struggle to list even the most basic skills that industry employers are hoping to see. Skills as project management, time management, writing and editing, and market knowledge. These sound too simple. Academia has taught PhDs that simple means less intelligent and less valuable. Most often the opposite is true. Most PhDs do not even list research, analysis, work ethic, innovation, comprehension or problem solving on their resumes or LinkedIn profiles. Why? Too simple. PhDs prefer to list niche-specific skills that sound impressive like fluorescence microscopy, real-time PCR, quantum mechanics, artificial intelligence, machine learning. 

Anything with the words qualitative or quantitative in it. 

How Can PhDs Communicate Their Skills To Employers

Some of the most overworked and underpaid people in the world right now are PhDs Despite all education and advanced technical training, most PhDs are not successful when it comes to their careers. You may have spent your time in academia developing some extraordinarily complex laboratory technique. Or you are an incredible computer programmer. Did you study for two years straight to master a field and then spend several years compiling a thesis that helped push a niche scientific field forward? Great – the technical skills you learned along the way will be obsolete in a few years. Many of them are obsolete right now. 

The labs in industry are gigantic. Each may be the size of a football field. They are full of hundreds of millions of dollars of advanced robotics doing thousands of experiments in real-time. So, the techniques that you do daily in the labs as PhDs are done automatically. Huge amount of data is generated every minute. Face the reality that all of the technical skills learned in academia don’t matter much. The only skills of any value are those related to your ability to understand these robotic systems. Skills to manage them and to manage the technicians working alongside the robotics. Your ability to strategically map out which experiments to run next is important. 

Realize that your transferable skills are more valuable than technical skills. 

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