Hosted By

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

Join Isaiah he reveals the powerful ways in which PhDs can communicate their value to employers and get hired into top industry careers

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

  • First, Isaiah explains why PhDs need to communicate their value to the employers
  • Next, Isaiah reveals which skills are valued by employers
  • Finally, Isaiah describes the powerful ways PhDs can communicate their value to their employers

From This Week’s Show…

Why PhDs Need To Learn To Communicate Their Value To Employers

Communicating your value is indispensable for getting hired. As a PhD you must know how to communicate your skills that you’ve gained during your PhD to employers. The biggest gap that PhDs have is being unsure how to position themselves for industry. How to communicate PhD values, skills, qualifications? It’s difficult if you are not sure if you’re valuable outside of academia. A lot of this comes down to the language that you’re using.

PhDs have a sense of imposter syndrome. Unsure if they have anything to offer outside of academia, and how to articulate it. 

PhDs are the top 2% of the population in terms of education. And you’re just comparing yourself to other PhDs who might excel relative to you in one area or another. As PhDs, we have this deficit where we are always comparing ourselves to people on top. But we only compare ourselves to that top 2%, worse. This is no way to live when it comes to yourself. Looking for the weaknesses, avoiding confirmation bias is only good for comparing data. But when it comes to you and your value in a job search, it’s not productive. 

You have to know you’re valuable and learn how to communicate that value. 

Which Skills Employers Value 

Technical skills are undoubtedly important. But those are not the only skills employers look for in their candidates. The top three desired skills for industry positions are not some niche technical skill. Rather the three skills are critical thinking, complex problem solving and decision making. They want people who can correctly identify problems and then solve that problem. 

As a PhD, you naturally excel in all three of these areas. Regardless of your background, you are an expert researcher. You are highly trained in identifying problems and finding solutions to those problems. And this is how you should explain to an employer. 

You are trained at problem isolation and then synthesis. You can come up with solutions to those problems and make a recommendation. You’ve spent so much time trying to find the answers to the world’s toughest, unknown questions. You know how to attack these questions from every different angle. You can follow a lead right through dozens of academic journal articles, book references, countless plots just to prove some minute aspect of your overall hypothesis. Adding to a field is hard. Anyone can regurgitate information. You can do that and much, much more.

True employers deeply value this for any industry role. So make sure they understand it. Make sure you can communicate that they also value your ability to wrangle uncertainty. If you have a PhD, you have spent so much of your life in the middle of uncertainty. You may at times have thrived on it because without uncertainty discovery would be impossible. Innovation would not exist. Most job candidates don’t understand the relationship between uncertainty and creation. 

You have to deal in uncertainty. Emphasize that you are very good at dealing with uncertainty and continuing to work in the face of it. Most job candidates really struggle with this. They need an absolute guarantee before they’ll work hard. While as a PhD, you don’t. You just need to know what’s possible. And know that you’re going after something that’s going to have a bigger impact on humanity. 

Powerful Ways To Communicate Your Value To Employers

Uncertainty induces innovation. Lean into this ability to deal with uncertainty. In industry, your technical skills are surpassed by some robotic system. It’s going to make whatever you’re doing in academia obsolete, except for the underlying knowledge of how it works. Your underlying ability and experience dealing with uncertainty and innovating, while still learning and moving forward is important. You can communicate this on your resume, your LinkedIn profile while networking and during informational interviews, when they say well enough about me, what about you? 

Certainly during interviews you need to reveal your value as a PhD. Talk about your ability to innovate your ability to, to learn quickly, to deal with uncertainty. As a PhD your ability to handle tough situations, your history of working very intensely with very little pay and very little support and still pushing through this is your value. You find problems, and determine priority.

Tenacity is very uncommon. Convey that you’re very intelligent. You can learn extremely quickly and autonomously. You learn faster on the job compared to than others. 

PhD stands for doctor of philosophy and philosophy stands for knowledge and the ability to ascertain knowledge. You are quite literally, as all PhDs are, a doctor of learning.

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

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