How I Got Hired Right After I Had A Baby – Tips For PhDs Job Search Strategy As A New Parent

The actual story of how I became a regulatory writer.

I received my PhD in cell and developmental biology from Penn State.

I graduated from a great lab. I had an excellent mentor and was treated like family.

My aim was to start a lab of my own.

I ended up taking a coveted postdoc at Thomas Jefferson University under another excellent mentor who was very well known for his contribution to developmental biology.

I felt I was set to establish myself in academia.

This was not to be. In spite of excellent research, my lab ran out of funding and due to visa issues I found myself scrambling to get a job.

I had just returned from maternity leave.

I applied high and low, left, right and center.

Left no stone unturned.

Eventually, I ended up taking a second postdoc. This was a game changer for me. This postdoc made me realize two things

1. Academia was a waste of my efforts

2. There is a whole world of careers in industry, not necessarily in bench research.

I spent the better part of my second postdoc exploring these career options.

During my second postdoc I really started to build my network.

I spent a good 3 years doing informational interviews, attending career fairs and becoming frustrated with the lack of results.

In hindsight, I think ultimately what really helped me get hired was this network that I was building.

Although I was frustrated at the time, making and developing these connections helped me a lot.

While my current job was not achieved using a referral, my network was very important in the evolution of my career choice.

I was able to zero in on my desired position thanks to all the conversations I had with people at both social gatherings and professional meetings.

Eventually, I realized that what I really desired was to stay within science but away from the bench and have a career with a good work life balance so that I could enjoy my kids and family as well.

During my second postdoc I reached the ultimate breaking point.

I was frustrated that in spite of being qualified and even after having landed a bunch of on site interviews, I wasn’t getting any job offers.

I was also mentally done with my postdoc.

In addition to the above, I was 7 months pregnant, mentally and physically exhausted and had resigned from my postdoc.

I told my advisor that once the baby was born, I wouldn’t be back.

This was the BEST decision of my life.

4 weeks after I delivered my baby boy, I started the job hunt once again.

I had made up my mind that I wasn’t going to sit at home and this time around, I was going to get the job!

So, what did I do?

I did what all moms know how to do best-multitask!

I started listening to the Cheeky Scientist modules while I was feeding or changing my son, cooking or when he was asleep.

I noticed that a company, which has an office 5 minutes away from my house was hiring!

What did I do?

I emailed their HR recruiter and sent her my resume.

Within 2 days, I received an email from her saying she would like to talk to me.

The day of the phone interview, I set myself up for this call. I made sure my baby was taken care of and guess what?

No call.

I waited for about 15 minutes and still no call.

I emailed the recruiter politely checking with her if she would still like to talk on said day.

She immediately emailed me back, apologetic and asked to reschedule since a call she was on went over time.

I mention this because many times we worry and think the worst about not hearing back from recruiters.

Just ask! Don’t panic, they are human too and stuff happens.

So, the call was rescheduled when we spoke and she told me that I would have to take a writing test, which she would email me that evening.

That evening came and went and so did another week, and no test.

I emailed to check and no response.

Once again, panic and frustration.

But remember, life happens to everyone.

It happened to the recruiter as well. She emailed me a week later asking me if I had received the test.

Looks like it got stuck in her outbox and never got sent to me even though she thought it had.

So, once I got the test, I aced it!

The next day I was asked to schedule an onsite interview.

Just 3 days after the interview I got a job offer.

I was able to negotiate a later start date and flex time.

Why It’s Never Too Late Or Too Early To Start Your Job Search

The ideal time to start focusing on your job search is now.

No matter if you have just started your PhD or if you are unemployed and want a job ASAP, the best thing you can do it start now.

Balance Careers reported that roughly it takes one month to find a job for every $10,000 of the paycheck you would like to earn.

So, as a PhD if you want to earn $90,000 per year, your job search could take about 9 months.

BUT this is an estimate.

Depending on the effort your put in and any networking efforts you did before needing a job this time frame can change.

The bottom line is that you want to give energy to your job search as soon as possible, but don’t worry if you feel like you are late to the game.

In the US alone, in just one month, there were 7.5 million job openings, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are lots of opportunities for you out there.

There is a job that will fit with your specific career aspirations and allow you to do meaningful work as a PhD.

Don’t lose hope.

Top 3 Tips For PhDs Job Searching As A New Parent

Searching for a job as a new parent is a unique experience.

You have new responsibilities and a new appreciation for work-life balance.

This means that it has become increasingly important for you to find a position that is right for you and to create the most effective job search strategy possible.

So in addition to following the PhD job search blueprint and executing your job search at the PhD level, there are a few extras to remember.

Here are the top 3 tips for PhDs job searching as a new parent that will help you craft the most effective job search strategy and get hired quickly…

1. Networking is a marathon.

Whether you think so or not, networking is a super important part of your job search.

You are already a part of a network, and either it’s working for you or it’s not.

Networking refers to the activity of building relationships with people you already know as well as meeting and building relationships with new people.

Not all your networking contacts are going to result in a job referral, but all your interactions are valuable.

Each conversation you have is an opportunity to learn.

Even if that means you realize that a position or company is not right for you, that is a great lesson, especially as a new parent.

The other, incredibly important thing about networking is that it is not a sprint, it is a MARATHON.

Going to one event and having out a few business cards is not networking.

You will only gain the benefits of networking by adopting a wider perspective and thinking about networking as a long term investment.

Networking is most successful with you are consistent.

You will have to work at networking and it is tiring.

But once you are hooked on it and once it just becomes a part of your life it will continue to help you thrive throughout your entire career.

A few key things to remember when networking:

  • Adding value is important
  • Always be polite
  • Remember no one is obliged to help you, talk to you or respond to your email, so be sure to say thank you to those who do
  • Easy ways to add value are to wish someone a happy holiday, congratulate them on a promotion, or write comment on a LinkedIn post they make

Be curious about the people you interact with.

Go into your interaction with an open mind and looks for ways you can relate to the person outside of working.

This means that parent meet-ups and playdates are great networking opportunities!

2. Don’t get hung up on job titles and job descriptions.

A job description is not set in stone.

Many of the job descriptions that you see just contain a wish list of all the things an employer would love to have in a new employee.

So if you don’t meet all the requirements don’t worry, and apply anyway!

This is especially true if you are a woman, as studies show that women are more likely to not apply for a position because they don’t meet all the requirements than men.

So, if you feel the imposter syndrome setting in because you don’t meet every single requirement listed, stop and reevaluate.

You are a PhD.

You are highly qualified, even if there are a few skills on that job description that you don’t have.

Additionally, don’t automatically rule out positions that don’t require a PhD.

Job descriptions are sometimes minimum requirements.

You might miss out on an opportunity to do great work if you get hung up on the fact that a job description only lists and BSc or MS as the required education level.

Instead of getting too hyper focused on the job description, learn as much as you can about the company.

Learn about the people you would be working with.

Ask questions about the career progression that others have had and what they think about working in that particular company or industry.

These are the types of questions that will allow you to find a position that fits you well, regardless of what the job description says.

I say this because my job was advertised for a BSc or English major. Had I been hung up on this, I would have never landed this job.

3. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ job search.

Depending on your situation the speed of your job search and the strategies you rely on more heavily are going to be different.

Don’t become frustrated if your job search looks different than your peers.

Maybe you are trying to move to a new location, so much of your networking takes place online.

Maybe you are taking care of a child full time and most of your networking is with other parents.

Maybe you are still doing your PhD and your networking is solely focused on figuring out what positions could be a good fit for you.

These are all different, but good, job search strategies.

The similarity that they all have is that you need to be networking.

Also, if you are feeling frustrated that your job search efforts are not getting you results fast enough, you just need to increase your threshold.

This means if you’ve been applying for 1 job a week, increase it to 3 or 5 per week.

If you’ve been reaching out to 1 person in your network per week, increase that to 1 person per day.

If you are following the PhD job search blueprint, it will work, you just need to think bigger.

PhDs start to get hired when they have 30-50 job leads all going at the same time.

It might take you a while to get to this place, but that should be your goal.

There is no one way to execute your unique job search, do whatever works and what makes you feel comfortable.

It is possible to get hired as a new parent, who is also a PhD. It may seem daunting and it might be difficult to find the time to put into your job search, but you can do it. You just need to focus on what you can do. Specifically, remember that networking is a marathon, don’t get hung up on job titles and job descriptions, and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ job search. Learn what works for you, in your unique situation. Just keep moving forward.

To learn more about How I Got Hired Right After I Had A Baby – Tips For PhDs Job Search Strategy As A New Parent, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the wait list for the Cheeky Scientist Association.

Join Cheeky Scientist Association
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly
Mansi Khanna, PhD
Mansi Khanna, PhD

Mansi Khanna, PhD, is a cell biologist with a strong background in research areas like disease biology, drug target identification, drug discovery, high throughput screening, cell and molecular biology, neurobiology, genetics, proteomics, genomics, and microbiology.

Similar Articles

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 27th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 27th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Here Are The Best Government Careers For PhDs

Here Are The Best Government Careers For PhDs

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Think academia and industry are your only two options for a career? Think again. For PhDs, government careers can represent exciting and unusual ways to apply your expertise in meaningful ways. Imagine helping craft the policy that leads to cleaner air or lower emission vehicles.  Or, imagine identifying a troubling trend before it comes to a head—and helping agencies take the steps they need to mitigate a crisis. Government jobs are as specialized and as varied as PhD programs. They need smart and intelligent people who are trained to work with dedication and discipline. None better than PhDs to fill…

45 Salary Negotiation Scripts Word-For-Word For PhDs

45 Salary Negotiation Scripts Word-For-Word For PhDs

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Negotiation is one of the most challenging parts of a job search. This is because PhDs are never trained on how to negotiate. In fact most think they put their offer at risk if they do. The truth is that you have a higher chance of putting the prospects of your future employment at risk by not negotiating because salary negotiation is a social norm in industry. PhDs can and should negotiate successfully. Most importantly, they should never let their academic stipend or fellowship, which is not a true salary, be used against them. For example, A PhD in the…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 20th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 20th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

PhDs’ Role In The Vaccine Rollout

PhDs’ Role In The Vaccine Rollout

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

We finally have a COVID-19 vaccine.  “Finally” is relative.  It feels like it’s taken forever because 2020 dragged on and we faced one bad situation after another.  However, when you consider the time it takes to research a new disease, create a vaccine (through a lot of trial and error), test it, and start distributing it, things have progressed relatively quickly.  According to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, a typical vaccine timeline can last somewhere between 5-10 years. In some cases, it can take even longer.  PhDs’ role in the vaccine process is an important one and may be the…

11 Ways To Revamp Your Resume For The Post-Vaccine Job Market

11 Ways To Revamp Your Resume For The Post-Vaccine Job Market

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Most PhDs think that they can get hired overnight once they start uploading their resume.  Unfortunately, this is just not true.  As an example, Irene Minkina, PhD, a member of our Cheeky Scientist Association, was applying for 5 months before she made progress. Irene uploaded 25 total resumes, took 6 writing tests, and had 6 total interviews.   PhDs who do not have any career training often have to load more than 200 resumes before they get an interview.  This just shows that a bad resume can keep you from getting a job and a good resume is not enough to…

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 13th 2021

Best Of Transition: PhD Jobs & Job Search Strategies, February 13th 2021

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Every week, we at Cheeky Scientist scour the Internet for the best articles on topics that help in the search for the Best of Transition: PhD Job Search in the industry. Our two consultants independently search for the most informative articles in the categories of networking, CVs/resumes, interviews, transferable skills, academic blues, industry positions, and business acumen. Our consultants vote on a top article for each category and a top overall article for the week – if it’s a recent article that can help readers find and acquire PhD jobs, then we want to include it in this weekly digest.…

Getting More PhDs Into The Board Room – The Cheeky Scientist Story

Getting More PhDs Into The Board Room – The Cheeky Scientist Story

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

The academic PhD career track is dead. The academic system is completely broken.  Not too long ago, you could become a tenured professor right after graduate school.  Then, you needed one year of postdoctoral experience to become a tenured professor.  Now, you need 6-10 years of postdoc experience just to get into a part-time, contract or adjunct professorship. Here’s the good news… In industry, PhDs are highly valued, respected, and paid.  This is the mission of Cheeky Scientist – to get as many PhDs hired into top industry positions as possible.  Specifically, we want to get more PhDs into the…

11 Most Coveted PhD Careers & Their Job Descriptions

11 Most Coveted PhD Careers & Their Job Descriptions

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

What is the difference between a Data Analyst and a Data Scientist? Well, salary, for one.  Data scientists get paid more.  Transferable skills for another.  Data Scientists have the ability to not only understand and communicate technical data, but business data as well.  In fact, they can translate technical data into business data. This ability to translate, to “speak nerd and normal person” as I like to say, is the differentiator for most of the top industry PhD careers available right now.  Finally, job candidates with Bachelor degrees and Master’s degrees only are often hired into Data Analyst roles, while…

Top Industry Career eBooks

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the top 20 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.

Dashboard Demonstration Banner