Hosted By

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

In this episode, Isaiah provides you with the most up-to-date information about the job market, using it to explain how PhDs can fuel their job search and find career success. Then he runs through the industry careers that are surging right now–careers that are perfect for PhDs… 

The recession is here. Are you insulated inside the ivory tower? Burying your head in the sand? 

Isaiah is ready to clear the path in front of you. Are you ready to get hired?

In today’s episode of the Cheeky Scientist Radio Show, we are doing things a little differently. Because of the pandemic and the current recession that we are now in, the goal of this radio show is moving PhDs forward into industry careers.

The Cheeky Scientist Radio Show will give you all of the information that you need  – this will be the place where you can get the most up-to-date information on how to protect your PhD career. We will help you create a safety net for your career. We’re going to talk about industry careers that are surging right now for PhDs. Isaiah will show you the data and lay out everything that’s going to happen over the next few weeks, months, and even years. This is so that you are prepared, armed with all the right information. 

Previews From This Episode

How the recession has changed industry (and how PhDs can adapt):

Right now, employers are looking to reduce risk. Before the pandemic happened, they were seeking pleasure. They were seeking growth, right? So when I say pleasure, I mean the spectrum of pain and pleasure. People at the most basic level, in terms of behavioral psychology, are going after pleasure and avoiding pain. When times are good, they have that growth mindset. They’re going towards growth. They want to advance into new sectors. They want to grow their team. They want to push the limit. They want to keep their foot on the gas pedal.

But in a recession, it’s the complete opposite. They want to avoid risk. All they’re thinking about is risk and mitigation. Not only this but they’ve reduced their hiring department. They reduced their human resources department. In many cases, they might have one hiring manager, and that hiring manager might be doing other jobs – they’re only hiring through word of mouth, which means that you cannot get hired just by uploading a resume online anymore.

Those days are over. That does not happen in a recession. You need to get a referral, which means you need to network. You need to get access to a job referral network. You have to set up informational interviews. These are things that we are going to cover throughout this radio show series, in our new show format. You need to understand that the game has changed.

You can’t be against the game. You can’t be against the new rules. You can’t turn back time. We are in this recession. Get into an objective mindset. You can step into this more easily than anybody else because you are a PhD, because you’ve honed that skill set to be objective and look at the landscape the way it is now, and then adjust yourself to it so you can be successful…

How this recession will play out over time:

Let me frame it to you this way: If academia has done such a poor job taking care of PhDs even when times are good, when the economy was great, then what will it be like now? PhDs were not taken care of by academia. They simply weren’t. In many countries, the universities fought governments to prevent postdocs from getting overtime pay.

I think about that: the universities kept alive by PhDs—in terms of PhD-level work like research—actively fought the government to avoid giving you overtime pay. That was during a hiring boom! That was during a great economy. What do you think they’re going to do now? Do you think they’re going to take care of you when times are bad? No. They’re definitely not going to take care of you during the crisis.

You have to take care of yourself. And that’s what we want to focus on here. A lot of PhDs have been asking me what the next few months or years will look like. Now, if you look at 2008—and again, this is something that I experienced firsthand—it’s the closest crash that we can evaluate and learn from right now. There was a trigger: It was the housing bubble in 2008. Now it’s the coronavirus, and the financial markets have crashed first. Then, after the financial markets crash, the governments get together to do something. They had a stimulus plan in 2008 –  in the US, it was called tarp. It was called many different things in different countries.

And the key here is that when the stimulus started to get disbursed, the financial markets continued to go down. So if you look at charts on this, you can see that October of 2008 is when the initial crash happened in terms of the financial markets. Government aid started to arrive in November, and it peaked in January of 2009 – however, the financial markets continued to crash. And the bottom of the market wasn’t experienced until March of 2009, so that’s about six months after the initial crash. If this new crash happened in about mid-February, you’re looking at March, April, May, June, July, and August.

That means this summer will be the bottom of the financial markets. Now, why does this matter? Because the job market follows the financial market. So we’ve already had several record-breaking weeks in terms of overall unemployment in the private sector, furloughs in academia, etc. These data are starting to come in, and a lot of countries are reporting it differently too. The U S has had over 6 million unemployment claims in the last couple of weeks… 

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

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