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Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist
Image of Isaiah Hankel sitting in armchair

Join Isaiah as he explains why a letter of recommendation from your advisor isn’t needed to land a job in industry

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

  • First, Isaiah shares how helpless he felt because he thought he needed his advisor’s support to get into industry
  • Next, Isaiah reveals why industry professionals lean on company referrals, and not recommendations, when deciding who to hire
  • Finally, Isaiah explains why finding a job in industry is up to you, and not your academic advisor

From This Week’s Show… 

Don’t Let Your Fear Take The Reins When Looking To Leave Academia Behind

When it came time to find a job in industry, I felt totally alone.

The university didn’t have any resources and my academic advisor was out of touch with the real world.

Not only that, but my relationship with my advisor had completely disintegrated – to the point where he was doing everything in his power to keep me from graduating.

Towards the end of my PhD, I was in pure panic mode. I wanted out of the academic system, but I didn’t know how to do it without anyone’s help.

My advisor certainly wasn’t going to give me the positive recommendation I had hope for. The whole situation felt hopeless.

Then, I talked with a friend of mine that had recently been hired into an industry position.

When I told him about my problem, he reassured me, saying “A letter of recommendation? No one will ask for that in industry.”

This woke me up.

If you’re waiting to make the leap into industry and fear that you won’t get anywhere without the consent of some lifetime academic, think again.

Why Companies Couldn’t Care Any Less About A Letter Of Recommendation

While an academic letter may emphasize your ability to perform particular research duties and your publication record, an industry company wants to understand what transferable skills you have.

They want to know if you have the ability to communicate, to manage projects, to lead a team, and to solve problems.

This is why industry companies rely on employee referrals to find quality job candidates, not letters of recommendation.

Companies rely heavily on employee referrals because hiring data shows that people hired through a referral report higher job satisfaction which, in turn, leads to higher retention rates.

For those of you still unconvinced, I want you to understand that your advisor is isolated and unknown in industry.

Sure, there may be a few exceptions here and there, but the vast majority of lifetime academics do not have a network outside of academia.

Your Academic Advisor In Unknown In Industry – Their Recommendation Is Useless

Your advisor and most lifetime academics have had to focus their entire careers and lives on academia to survive the academic system.  

They’ve had no time to establish let alone maintain any kind of industry network. As such, in industry, they are unknown.

Obscure. Powerless. Ineffective.

This may sound harsh but it’s the truth and you’ll benefit from knowing it.

I remember when I first asked my advisor if he knew anyone in industry.

He looked at me as though I had three heads and said his focus is academia, not industry.

Of course, looking back, this made sense. Why would he network with people who weren’t going to help him get his next grant or publish his next paper?

Finding a job in industry is dependent on you – your ability to network with the right people and to take full ownership of your industry career.

Not what some lifetime academic thinks of you.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

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