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The One Productivity Hack Every PhD Needs To Get Hired In Industry

If your job search isn’t producing results, perhaps you’re doing too little.

Or, just as likely, you’re doing too much… too much of the wrong things.

You may think “If I just spent more hours of the day searching and applying for jobs, I’m sure to land a job eventually.”

But investing more time into a job search without a strategy is time wasted.

An effective job search strategy is one that conserves our most precious resource: our mental energy.  

Protecting your mental energy is the one productivity hack that every PhD needs to get hired in industry.

As PhDs, we tend to place a great deal of value on other aspects of our lives – our relationships, our research, how much we are appreciated, our compensation (or lack thereof) – often at the expense of our mental energy.

But how can we improve the quality of our relationships or be compensated more fairly if we don’t have the energy to invest in these things?

The same goes for your job search.

If you put your job search at the bottom of your to-do list, you won’t have the energy it takes to do it right.

Here is what one Cheeky Scientist member said about their job search strategy:

When I first decided to transition into industry, I applied to over 80 program management positions. All this effort and I received exactly zero responses!

After these failed attempts, I had no other choice but to take another job in academia where I was not happy.

Then, a friend of mine introduced me to the Cheeky Scientist Association. After following the CSA job search strategies, I was finally getting noticed! I applied to about 30 jobs, and I was getting many replies.

Job hunting can be exhausting, but by using the correct strategies, you will finally see all your hard work pay off.

Today, I want to discuss the strategies that you should be using to set up an effective job search.

How To Prioritize Your Job Search

There are two major parts to an effective job search strategy: setting aside time and eliminating distractions.

Our mental energy is time-dependent and finite. To increase your job search productivity, you should be setting aside not just time, but the correct time.

We spend the most productive hours of our day on meaningless tasks.

Studies show that most people have approximately 90 to 120 minutes of maximum energy levels and that these levels peak within the first few hours after waking. Yet, we squander these precious minutes checking our email or surfing the internet.

To maximize effectiveness, set aside time at the beginning of your day when your mental energy levels are at their peak.

Before going to work, find a quiet space in your home. Go to the library. Anywhere where your distractions are minimized.

Distractions consume a significant amount of our mental energy and negatively impact our productivity.

In a recent survey conducted by Poly, 99% of employees reported feeling distracted at work.

In fact, a recent study by UC Irvine found that office workers are distracted once every three minutes. Worse yet, it takes the average person over 23 minutes to get refocused. This results in over 6 hours a day lost to interruptions!

The time you spend searching for your job should be held sacred. Don’t let it succumb to the noise and distractions of daily life. There are four strategies you can implement in your job search that will maximize your productivity and conserve your mental energy.

4 Strategies To Increase Your Job Search Productivity

1. Determine your peak times

For the average person, the most productive hours occur in the morning; however, it’s important to identify the specific times that your energy levels peak. To do this, simply keep a journal.

If you get up at 6:00 AM every day, set alarms for the top of each hour throughout your workday. At those times, do a self-assessment:

On a scale from 0 to 10, how clear and energized am I mentally? What am I doing? How quickly am I getting things done? Ensure to write this information down.

If you spend a few days documenting your energy and productivity levels, a clear pattern will emerge.  

You may find you perform best between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM in the morning but also experience a boost of mental energy after 3:00 PM. Perhaps this exercise will only confirm what you already knew about yourself. Even so – the mere act of writing it down helps increase your awareness.

2. Start saying “no”

Someone or something is always demanding your time and energy.

If your phone isn’t chiming, or your boss isn’t demanding a last-minute meeting, then certainly your own mind is at work creating lists filled with needless tasks.

Even just the sheer amount of information we’re asked to absorb is enough to drain our energy reserves.

And it’s only getting worse.

The amount of information overload people experience on a daily basis has increased substantially over the last few decades.

This means that people are spending most of their day just sifting through incoming information. All at the expense of meaningful work.

Start saying “no” to the outward demands and distractions of the world and start looking inward – to your own goals 

Throughout your daily routine, consistently ask yourself: Does this activity bring me closer to my goal? Or does this only serve to move someone else’s agenda forward? If you want a job in industry, you need to prioritize your job search above all else.

3. Avoid energy sinks

On some level, we all aim to please.

This is because good relationships – both work and personal – are key to a happy life and a fulfilling career. But problems arise when we spend too much of our energy on pleasing others.

People-pleasing not only saps us of our energy; it can also negatively impact our mindset.

If you’re saying “yes” to every social occasion or raising your hand for every volunteer activity at work (perhaps out of fear of losing friends or colleagues), then you’re spreading yourself too thin.

Prioritizing your job search may mean putting certain parts of your life on hold; but it’s well worth the sacrifice.

Spending time with the wrong people can also be detrimental.

While all interpersonal interactions expend energy to some degree, spending time with a pessimistic person is a surefire way to open the gasket on your energy reserves.

Pessimists can also negatively impact your attitude, and ultimately, your performance.

Searching for a job is stressful. Ghosting and rejections are often part of the process, and this can hurt your self-esteem and outlook. Don’t add to your stress by associating yourself with negative people.

A positive and purpose-driven mindset are crucial for maintaining an effective job search. To preserve this, surround yourself with positivity and people that believe in you.

4. Stop opinion-polling

If you relate to the people-pleaser described above, my guess is that you often seek the approval of others.

We’re social creatures – the need to be accepted by our peers is only natural.

This becomes problematic, however, when we start to emulate the goals of those we admire at the expense of our own.

This is herd mentality, and it can derail your job search. It’s important to find positions that excite you. Your only concern should be your own happiness. After all, you will be the one doing the job – not everyone else.

Concluding Remarks

The strategies you employ during your job search will determine your success. An effective job search is conscientious, purpose-driven, and efficient. There are four techniques you should apply to improve any job search: Identify the the time of the day when your productivity peaks and set aside this time for your job search; say “no” to the demands of others; safeguard your mental energy by avoiding energy sinks, negativity, and sources of distraction; and lastly, focus on yourself – your goals, and your priorities – and not the approval of others. These strategies will not only produce results, they will conserve the your valuable resource: your mental energy.

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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Dr. Isaiah Hankel is the Founder and CEO of Cheeky Scientist. His articles, podcasts and trainings are consumed annually by millions of PhDs and other professionals in hundreds of different countries. He has helped PhDs transition into top companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Intel, Dow Chemical, BASF, Merck, Genentech, Home Depot, Nestle, Hilton, SpaceX, Tesla, Syngenta, the CDC, UN and Ford Foundation.

Dr. Hankel has published 3X bestselling books and his latest book, The Power of a PhD, debuted on the Barnes & Noble bestseller list. His methods for getting PhDs hired have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Nature, Forbes, The Guardian, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and Success Magazine.

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

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