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Why PhDs Are Talking About Wage Push Inflation And Leaving Academia Early Because Of It

PhDs are talking about the wage push inflation.

We are going through a very rare time in the economy. A very rare time in the timeline of humanity.

So, if you are a PhD looking for an industry job, it’s possible that you feel lost most of the time. 

You might feel like you don’t know the rules you need to follow to get hired. You might feel that the rules are constantly changing.

I’m here to tell you that as scary as this time might seem. There are a lot of opportunities that you can take advantage of.

In fact, this is a great time for PhDs to advance their careers. We have seen dozens of PhDs getting hired and/or promoted in the last months.

One of our associates shared the following testimonial shortly after being hired by Merk – I’m happy to share that this is my second transition. I’m so thrilled that my 2021 career goal is accomplished. 

I had three goals for this transition, moving out of bench work, getting into a better management role, and a good salary hike.

All three are satisfied at my new company. And the large brand is a bonus. It looks like this is in alignment with my dream to get into C-suite positions in a few years down the line.

What Is Wage Push Inflation And How It Affects PhDs

I have already discussed the inflation we are experiencing as a consequence of the increased liquidity that governments injected into the market as a response to the pandemic.

In addition to that, we are currently going through a period called wage push inflation, which is an overall rise in the cost of goods that result from a rise in wages.

To sum things up, we are seeing inflation occur because governments worldwide have injected a lot of new money into the economy. So, a dollar in 2019 was worth more than a dollar now, and this has pushed wages higher.

On top of this, there’s a lot of workers across different industries who are reluctant to get back into the job market. They either went back to school, transitioned to another industry, or started their own business.

This has caused an overall decreased supply of labor, meaning that employers are struggling to fill open positions.

If you’re a PhD looking for a job right now, this is all good for you because in a sense it trickles up.

Arguably, PhDs are more in demand now than they ever have been, but there are still things you need to consider to ensure you seize this opportunity.

wage push

Opportunities For PhDs In The Current Job Market

At this point, you probably realized that wage push inflation is a situation that you can leverage to advance your professional career.

However, there are some things you need to consider to position yourself favorably.

I want to help you understand where you have leverage. So, here are three opportunities that PhDs can take advantage of in the current job market.

1. Level up to your dream position, not a starter position

There are some career paths in industry that serve as safety nets for PhDs. Many PhDs start their job search focusing on their safety net rather than their desired position.

Now is not the time to do that. Now is the time to focus on your dream career because you are in demand.

Don’t let imposter syndrome prevent you from taking advantage of this opportunity.

If you dream of becoming a Medical Science Liaison, a principal scientist, or a user experience researcher. Start applying for those positions now. Don’t waste time focusing on stepping stones.

Countless high level positions in all industries – biotech, biopharma, tech, hospitality, retail – are not being filled right now.

These companies need people who can do research analysis, who are innovative, who excel at problem solving. That is you as a PhD. 

So, focus on your dream career, not your safety net.

2. Get paid a higher salary for your higher level position

Many PhDs tend to think that they should aim at entry level positions to position themselves and make their way towards a higher salary. 

These PhDs are misunderstanding the opportunity that lay ahead of them.

This is the moment to aim at higher positions in your job search.

Because of wage push inflation, there is a shortage of higher level jobs. So, someone who would have the qualifications to get hired as a research scientist I, can now get hired as a research scientist II.

We are currently seeing PhDs transitioning out of academia into high level positions, as well as PhDs getting promoted after a few months in their first industry position. 

This is your chance to get into a higher job title.

If you were planning to apply for scientist I positions, go after senior scientist positions. If you were planning to apply to data analyst positions, go after data scientist positions

3. Show employers certainty to overcome their risk aversion

By now you are probably thinking “a company is just going to hire me no matter what, because of wage push inflation.”

This is not true.

The fact that companies are having a difficult time filling positions causes them to become more risk averse when it comes to commitment. 

They don’t want to struggle to hire someone just for that person to leave after a couple of months. So, they are looking for candidates who show them that they want to work for them instead of looking for just any open position.

One of the biggest reasons PhDs are not getting hired right now, even with wage push inflation, is because they’re not showing commitment when they get to the interview stage.

To seize the opportunity, you need rationale for why you’re the best person for the job and why this company is your number one choice. 

You can do this for any company. 

Find a reason that has to do with their mission statement, their values, etc. why you really want to work for them and build your case.

Remember, you’re selling yourself. This is persuasion. You have to have confirmation bias. If they ask you questions to gauge how certain you are about the job, show 100% certainty. 

Yes, you can be considering other positions.

But if you want to overcome the risk aversion that employers have, you need to show commitment to the job.

wage push

Golden Rules Of Industry Etiquette That Will Never Change

PhDs are in demand more than ever, but this doesn’t mean that you can forget the basic industry etiquette and still get hired.

Follow the three golden rules below to make sure you don’t miss your opportunity.

1. You need to increase your industry credibility 

This is a great time for any PhD to get hired. But companies can’t hire you if they don’t know you exist.

If all your connections are academics, you’re fighting obscurity right now. To become visible, you need to put a proper job search strategy in place. 

Start by creating a professional LinkedIn profile with a high SSI score. Make sure that you fill in all the sections with relevant keywords.

Let your network know that you are looking for new opportunities by turning your recruiter button on. Once your profile is ready. You should start networking with industry employees.

Comment on their posts, set informational interviews, and build strong relationships. Creating rapport with people who are already in industry will open more doors than you can imagine. 

2. Always be polite when interacting with employers

Just because you are the job candidate and the supply and demand curve is currently in your favor this doesn’t mean you don’t have to be polite to hiring managers. 

Don’t let the high job market turn you into an arrogant PhD. The only thing you will accomplish is to burn bridges and increase your time unemployed.

Instead, remain professional at all times. Show that you are taking the hiring process seriously and that you know your value.

3. You still must negotiate your salary

Once you get an official job offer, you should always negotiate your salary. No matter if the job market is in your favor or not. 

Just because employers have to pay more for talent, doesn’t mean they like it. You still have to show them that you know your value and are willing to negotiate your worth. This is common industry etiquette.

Industry hiring managers like to hire candidates who are engaged and who have enough confidence to negotiate and ask.

Negotiation is a crucial transferable skill that you can train and improve by practicing. So, learn the most relevant negotiation scripts and get ready for salary negotiations.

wage push

Concluding Remarks

As a PhD, you should take advantage of the opportunities that wage push inflation is providing. Take advantage of the shortage of high level employees to get hired into your dream position, starting at a higher job title with a higher salary and showing certainty to combat risk aversion. At the same time, avoid falling into the traps of what hasn’t changed. You still have to execute a job search properly to become visible to employers. Be polite at all times and negotiate your salary by remembering your value as a PhD.

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 3 million PhDs in 152 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 two bestselling books with Wiley and 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.

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