Hosted By

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

Join Isaiah as he reveals how do PhDs compare to the average job candidate

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

  • First, Isaiah explains why PhDs should know how they compare to the average job candidate 
  • Next, Isaiah reveals the major disconnect points between PhDs’ beliefs and the PhD job search process
  • Finally, Isaiah discusses how PhDs compare against the average job candidate

From This Week’s Show… 

Why PhDs Should Compare Themselves Against The Measuring Stick 

You’re going to get a measuring stick today. You will be able to see if you measure up to what the average job candidate is doing in terms of their job search. 

It’s natural for us as PhDs to look to the top. How can we make ourselves the best job candidate possible? The problem is that the reality can be much different from our perception. There can be a disconnect. Whether you’ve worked in the industry or not, there’s always a disconnect. The question is what is the degree of the disconnect?

I am going to present data from surveys that we gave to 1,679 PhDs for you to compare. These would serve as a reference to establish what that disconnect is. PhDs may think that their resume is average, or maybe they are confident enough regarding their resume. As PhDs, we have a background in writing. You had to write articles, grants, study reports, protocols, you may feel you are a strong writer. You probably are. But you’re a strong academic writer. Is that going to help you with your industry resume? Likely not! 

The average PhD thinks that they have plenty of time to start their job search. Maybe after they defend their thesis, or their next postdoc, or even after their contract or adjunct professorship is terminated. This assumption is a big mistake. 

Major Disconnect Points Of PhD Job Search

Are you uploading your resume and not getting the number of responses you thought you would? Are you getting phone screens for every resume you upload? If not, there’s probably a disconnect.

As PhDs we write a lot. So we think that writing is a huge part of our job search. Cause it’s what we know as job candidate. It’s actually one of the smallest parts of your job search. You upload your resume. You’re surprised at the lack of response that you get – your resume is not where it needs to be.

One of the biggest disconnects between reality and a PhD’s perceived reality is in resume writing. The majority of PhDs believe that their industry resume is average but industry professionals rate it as below average. 

We do several presentations during our PhD. A lot of meetings with our thesis committee to get our PhD. During presentations, we have to defend our findings orally. And we think as a job candidate that the job interview questions and answers that we’re going to go through during a phone screen or a site visit are the same thing. I thought my interview skills were superior.

The problem is I didn’t have domain knowledge and business acumen. I didn’t know what my audience wanted to hear. The audience here are trained industry professionals, not academics. Most of what you’ve learned in academia is not applicable to industry, not in terms of the social norms, not in terms of what the industry audience values. I can tell you nine years ago when Cheeky Scientist started, we did not have professors. Now, we have people that have been tenured professors for 13 years in our programs, because academia is broken.

The initial gatekeepers – hiring managers and recruiters – do not have PhDs. The perception of what industry values is different from academia.

How Do PhDs Compare To The Average Job Candidate

There is a huge disconnect between the actual job search and our perception of it. A PhD job search takes months if not years, especially if you are working on your own. Don’t wait until you’re broke. Until you turn desperate.

About 24.3% PhDs voted that they are already out of a position. Most PhDs are already out of a position when they start their job search.  61.2% of PhDs polled needed a job in six months.

It’s a long process to get hired; not just uploading a resume. It’s 40 distinct PhD level, job search steps. We call this the cheeky scientist methodology, and it takes a long time to execute if you’re doing it without any sort of process, without a job referral network.

33.6% graduate students, 27% postdocs, 24.7%  are unemployed. We’ve tracked many of these PhDs longitudinally. We’ve done these surveys over and over. And we found that those who do not get training, those who don’t end up in Cheeky Scientist or any other programs end up in low paying postdocs or unemployed.

Academia can’t teach you which jobs are available because academia is full of lifetime academics. Even the career counselors in academia have no idea what they’re talking about because they’ve never worked in industry.

** for the full podcast, check out the audio player above.

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