Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel
Isaiah Hankel
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist
mentally

Join Isaiah as he reveals how to stay mentally strong during your PhD job search to get hired into high-paying industry careers

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

  • First, Isaiah explains why PhDs need to stay mentally strong during their job search process
  • Next, Isaiah reveals why employers don’t value mental weakness
  • Finally, Isaiah describes the 3 keys to stay mentally tough during PhD job search

From This Week’s Show…

Why PhDs Need To Stay Mentally Strong During Their Job Search Process


The PhD job search is arduous unless you have a strategy. You need mental toughness in your job search and your career. Certainly during those last few stages of getting out of academia. Showcasing a certain level of vulnerability and asking for help will not make your advisor and other thesis committees to care more. Mental weakness will get you lip service, but not anything else. It will not get you the respect that you deserve. 

Authenticity is important. But displaying vulnerability by letting others control your career, never results in success. Don’t depend on others for your career choices. Hoping that somehow people will feel sorry for you and help you is futile. This isn’t the case when it comes to advancing your career. 

In academia there’s a massive conflict of interest because as you develop in your training and you become very good at getting data. But you know are just advancing things for your PI, your academic advisors career. You constantly get pushed to generate more data. Because you are cheap labor. 

It’s the reality of the situation in academia. Everybody is vying for self-interest in a way. 

Employers Don’t Value Mental Weakness

Your mental weakness is not valued. Employers are not going to take pity on you. They’re not going to go out of their way to do more than they should to hire you. Employers don’t feel bad for your situation in academia. Your lower stipend would not be a criteria for them to offer you more. If you want your worth. You would have to work hard in negotiations. 

You’re going to face rejection if you depend on humanity to be hired. They’re going to reject you and not give you a reason. Several companies have policies so they don’t give feedback for rejection.  A lot of it has to do with legal implications. There’s layoffs. Companies may let you go. Companies kill a project or restructure and you’re fired. 

You might suddenly realize that your mental weakness has led you to be severely underpaid. Barely getting more than your postdoc or PhD. You need to change your mindset and increase your mental strength. 

3 Keys To Stay Mentally Tough During PhD Job Search

Mental toughness needs three keys. The first is having a can-do mindset. Take initiative for yourself. Don’t wait for somebody else to come take care of things. Realize that you can make a decision to better your situation at any time. Actively initiate the decision in the first place. Take decisions to improve my situation. This is very important for industry. This is why employers look for quantified results on your resume. Employers want translators as PhDs. Those who can take technical information, you can do research and analysis. 

Every PhD is valuable. But someone who can synthesize the results of an analysis into an actionable or a business oriented solution, and make a recommendation on what to do. That’s the kind of mindset you have to start developing. Don’t sit back, read a job, and play out the scenarios in your head. Rather take action. Don’t spend time critiquing the words than being inspired by them. You need to get to the point where you will hear a show like this, or read a book and then move on  it quickly. The PhDs that I see transition, that’s the switch. That’s the corner that they turn, the pivot that they make.

Secondly, you have to take ownership. You might be in unfair situations. You may not be responsible for the situation, but you’re responsible for how you respond to it. Take full responsibility and employers will test you on this. When they ask you behavioral questions, about a time when you had a conflict with a supervisor. Don’t blame your supervisor or talk negatively. Not, even in a passive aggressive way where they just had a different management style to me, and you’re not getting a job offer.

Take ownership of what you did. Tell them what you did to overcome that conflict. Say that you are responsible for this, but here’s what you learned from it. Here’s how I overcame it. You will be tested on this. 

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

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