Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel
Isaiah Hankel
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist
3 flavors of transferable skills

Join Isaiah as he shares how academia flips PhD job search strategy upside down and keeps them from top paying industry jobs

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

  • First, Isaiah explains why PhD students should focus on their job search
  • Next, Isaiah reveals how lack of specific goals that holds PhD students back in academia
  • Finally, Isaiah describes how academia flips PhD job search strategy upside down

From This Week’s Show… 

Why PhD Students Should Focus On Their Job Search

As a PhD student, you may have several questions regarding your future. A major question is: How soon should I start my job search? An industry job search is maddening. The reason that this is so challenging is because there’s so much uncertainty. The path has not been laid out before. Academia is vague on this on purpose. We are never trained rigorously on how to do it in academia. Most PhDs are never, ever trained on how to execute a job search at all. 

Knowing how to apply for a job is the limiting factor. It dictates how successful your industry job search and subsequent industry career will be. How successful your career is will be a major determinant in your personal level of achievement and fulfillment.  Especially after spending decades in academia. Where your career ends up dramatically affects how respected and impactful your life is. PhD students must focus on their job search at the earliest to avoid being unemployed after graduating. 

You may disagree depending on the country, culture or ideology you identify with. Your viewpoint, no matter how different or virtuous, does not change the fact that you want to transition out of industry. Get hired into an impactful industry job. 

A better job and a better career will increase your quality of life and sense of purpose. Regardless of your starting point and of how stuck you feel in academia right now.

Lack Of Specific Goals That Hold PhD Students Back In Academia

When it comes to executing an industry job search, most PhDs procrastinate.  They think about getting an industry job. Procrastinate more, upload an academic-style resume to hundreds of job sites. Hence fail to get a response and then give up. Sound familiar? If you have a PhD or are about to get one then take charge of your career. Move ahead. Learn about the process and the best practices. I have personally heard from thousands of PhDs from 152 countries that the above sequence encapsulates their current industry job search strategy or the strategy. They first tried before giving up and reaching out to me. So, why doesn’t this particular job search strategy work?

Because it’s flipped upside down. Academia and your own academic mindset flips this. Turn it right side up starting now.   

You are not crazy for wishing to advance your career. Neither is your desire to set a milestone, some actual goal or target is weird. The academic mindset is flawed. They’re making it vague and not giving you a target on purpose. So they don’t have to commit.  

How Academia Flips PhD Job Search Strategy Upside Down

Typically the PhD job search starts by uploading resumes and hoping for the best. Even smaller percentage of PhDs review interview questions. They imagine answering the questions correctly. Only a handful record their progress and connections during a job search. A rare few, if any, will devise a networking strategy. Build and reactivate their network, and seek job referrals. The problem is that everyone is executing their job search in the upside-down order that academia taught them: resumes, interviews, strategy, referrals. 

Due to lack of training, PhDs assume that an industry job search mirrors an academic job search. Or they believe it mirrors the peer-reviewed publication process. Write a document similar to an academic paper (resume) and send it off to reviewers (employers). And then if the reviewers like the work they will ask me to come in and defend in an interview similar to the way my thesis committee would. You couldn’t be more wrong.  The academic social norms you are following now will not get you hired in industry. 

This is why so many PhDs spend most of their time writing and rewriting their resumes, or LinkedIn profiles. Then fantasizing about a phone screen or interview. Spending very little time, if any, creating and recording a job search strategy. Or building and activating their job referral network. This is backwards. It’s upside down. If you want to get hired into the best possible job for you, you need to flip this sequence on its head. 

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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