Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist
Image of Isaiah Hankel, PhD, sitting in an armchair in front of a green background

Join Isaiah as he explores startling academic statistics surrounding PhD graduates and their career outlooks.

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

  • First, Isaiah touches on surprising academic statistics about PhDs and their career outcomes after graduation
  • Next, he identifies the misconceptions PhDs have about what it takes and how long it takes to start their industry career
  • Finally, Isaiah covers the 2 most important things you need to do to keep from becoming another academic statistic

From This Week’s Show…

Academic Statistics Paint A Bleak Picture Of The Future For PhD Graduates

In the last two years, data from 1600 PhDs were collected over a 6-month period.

Among those included, 34% said they were currently graduate students, 27% reported being in postdoc positions, and nearly a quarter said they were unemployed.

Only a small sliver of PhDs were principal investigators or professors, and a mere 7% were working in industry. 

What should be obvious from this data is that most PhDs were either in low-paying temporary positions or were unemployed. Very few were in industry, and even fewer were in higher academic positions.

So, the question is: where do you want to be? Now? Five years from now? Ten years from now?

Many PhDs dream of transitioning into industry, and yet, most remain in a cycle of low-paying positions. So, what’s the problem? 

Academic Statistics Reveal That Time Is Not On Your Side In Your Industry Job Search

The biggest problem that I see is that many PhDs think they have plenty of time to get hired and that they can do so in 1 to 2 months. This simply isn’t the case.

I don’t care if you know someone who was able to do this, or if you know 5 people who did it. They were outliers.

The averages are closer to a year, and ideally you would start getting ready two years before you need to get hired. Why?

Because your LinkedIn profile only has academic keywords and your entire online data profile collected by hundreds of ATS and other data collection systems over the years has labeled you as one thing and one thing only – lifetime academic.

Several PhD career surveys reveal that nearly a quarter of PhDs said they were already unemployed while another 40% said they needed a position within 1 to 6 months.

When you wait until the last minute to find a job, your decisions end up being driven by desperation. And what strategy do you think desperate people employ when searching for a job?

Do you think they can afford to hold out for their ideal job? No, they take whatever bachelors job they can get.

Too Many PhDs Expect Their Degree To Do The Legwork In Their Job Search

For many PhDs, not having a plan is the problem. They think they can send a few resumes out, have a few interviews, and have an industry job just land in their lap – bam!

And when this doesn’t happen, they either give up altogether or they turn to their failsafe: some low-paying academic postdoc, TA, adjunct or junior faculty position.

Sure, landing one of these academic roles requires much less immediate effort compared to an industry job search. But that’s just because these training and junior faculty positions are cheap and basically a lateral move.

You’re essentially doing the same job for slightly more money. Is that really what you want for yourself? Remaining stagnant in a system that doesn’t value your experience?

Even worse, do you want to end up unemployed? A staggering 82% of postdocs end up unemployed within 3 years.

Scary, right? Especially with a recession looming on the horizon.

To make matters worse, according to Nature Biotechnology, even after 15 years, those who did a postdoc failed to catch up with PhDs who skipped the postdoc altogether.

If You Don’t Want To Become Just Another Academic Statistic, Start Your Job Search Now

Stop waiting and make a plan and set it into motion before you become just another PhD job search statistic.

This takes us to the end of today’s Transition Report. As always, remember your value as a PhD and start thinking and acting like a successful industry professional. 

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

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