Hosted By

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

Join Isaiah as he reveals the strategies for PhDs to stay motivated in the job search process

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

  • First, Isaiah reveals how PhDs lose motivation
  • Next, he shares why it is important for PhDs to stay motivated
  • Finally, Isaiah  reveals the strategies to build rationale and stay motivated

From This Week’s Show… 

How PhDs Lose Motivation 

Staying motivated in your job search is a challenge. PhD life has its fair share of struggles. There are days when you wake up uninspired. You don’t feel like doing anything for your job search. It’s easy for PhDs who have been unemployed for months to lose motivation. Besides, PhDs’ life has several other struggles. Maybe they had a bad day in the lab or the classroom. They saw the writing on the wall. They were about to graduate. Maybe they’re going to lose their postdoc, or they’ve been in a postdoc for years. They’re an adjunct or still working on a contract. Irrespective of the nature of setbacks, PhDs suddenly get motivated, update their resume. 

PhDs start their job search with excitement. Updating their resume then uploading it to a job site. This gives them a sense of accomplishment, a dopamine hit in their brain. A feeling that they worked towards their job search process. Then they don’t hear back in spite of working for an hour or two on their resume. They don’t even have the correct resume format to begin with just a few bullet points based on what they could recall from their memory. They don’t hear back and then lose motivation over time. You do this over and over again. You don’t hear anything back or don’t experience any sense of growth.

You’re not tracking any metrics. No visible results. And so you give up, you lose motivation.

Why It Is Important To Stay Motivated In PhD Job Search

Motivation is not the problem. As PhDs we know we can get motivated by watching a rousing speech in a movie, or turn to our PI and professors. Maybe they actually say something positive that makes us feel good for a little bit. But emotions are fleeting and so is motivation. You fail in your job search because you wait for motivation, or try to create one. Staying motivated is the problem, not the solution. Inconsistent motivation doesn’t last. The kind where PhDs feel like doing something challenging just two or three hours a week.

Searching for a job is challenging. A motivated PhD is someone who is consistent and determined to work hard even when they don’t feel like working. PhDs cross the latency threshold when they do the required even when they don’t feel like it. Over 90% of the time, we do not feel like working hard, especially on things like a job search.  Most PhDs don’t prefer to indulge in a new area, something they don’t understand. There’s a lot of things you don’t know about a job search.

So how do you stay motivated? How do you stay motivated as a PhD, ask yourself that, how do you keep collecting research for something as long and arduous as your thesis? You set a goal and restructured your life towards that goal. It wasn’t motivation that kept you going. It was a rationale. 

3 Tips For PhDs To Build Rationale And Stay Motivated

You had a very strong reason why you wanted to get a PhD. Maybe you wanted to have a bigger impact on humanity or be a doctor, for the recognition. In terms of  education, PhD is the most challenging degree to get. And that’s why you wanted it. You had rationale which kept you consistent. 

You have to create rationale. Rationale is something you understand, as a PhD. You had to embed rationale in every paper, every grant that you wrote. You have built a strong case up for you to get a PhD. And now you need to build a strong case in yourself for your job search. How do you build your rationale?

To create the rationale you need to look at the pain. Your driving force is usually not what you’re trying to be driven to rather what you’re driving away from. That drive inside of you keeps you going. That’s not the typical motivation. There can be power in the painful things that you want to avoid. It will drive you. It can be your rationale.

It was rationale that I leaned into, and created confirmation bias. I built a case for it purposefully to drive me so that my job search became easy. There’s three things that will help you in terms of building this rationale.

Always remember your value as a PhD

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

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