You recently graduated from an Ivy School or received your PhD degree. You think that getting a job is the easy part right?
That is just the beginning of your journey.
An article published by Jordan Weissmann showed that only 40% of PhDs would get a job offer after graduation.
This is is scary. PhD candidates are highly qualified, smart people with many transferable skills that can be applied in the industry jobs. The statistics shows that most PhD students are not doing the right steps to get prepared to transition to an industry job.
We compiled few steps to guide you in securing a job offer after your graduation:
1. Get your feet on the ground first: be self-aware
PhD candidates are usually above-average smart people. The issue of being extremely smart is to think you do not have much to improve and the world is yours. Recently graduated PhDs usually think that job offers will fall from the heaven. Self-awareness is the first step for the continuous improvement. The ability to reflect about own strengths and weakness, to acknowledge constructive feedback and to use it as a tool to work to improve yourself will determine how much you are able to grow in comparison to your competitors. Be modest and humble to acknowledge that you are still beginning of the journey. The first job after your PhD most likely will be an entry-level position. There is nothing wrong in that, you can show later that you can progress faster and enter a fast-tracking career path, however try to map you weaknesses since the beginning so that you have a long-term plan to develop yourself.
2. Speak the industry language: translate your resume into achievements
The fact that you graduated from an Ivy School or obtained an advanced degree demonstrates a certain level of intellectual skills . However, it does not ensure you a career. Employers want to see tangible achievements coming from these skills rather than a white paper or publication that show how knowledgeable you are. They want to see hands-on results instead of theory only.
Highlight you extracurricular activities which relevant achievements: e.g. President of student academic organization helped to raise $X in funds for the project Y. This demonstrates that besides knowledge, you demonstrate drive and leadership skills to drive a team and achieve results. Other examples of achievement, if you negotiated the price of lab supplies, you have saved the lab resources. If you have simplified an existing study protocol, you have increased lab productivity. Mentoring graduate students can demonstrate teamwork and leadership skills. Look for tasks you completely successfully with tangible outcomes. Use available tools and resources as Resume Templates and do not re-invent the wheel.
3. Learn how to network effectively without wasting time
The network is your multiplier and the formula is simple:
professional success = your potential x your network
During my career I met extremely smart people with incredible potential. However, many of them were not able to realize their full potential due to the lack of the right connections. Most PhD students network exclusively with other students. This would not bring you much.
You need to focus on 2 groups: industry professionals and headhunters
Industry professionals very often are also the Hiring Managers. They can influence your industry placement by (1) hiring you directly or (2) making you an internal referral. Many companies provide bonuses to internal associates that make a successful referral, this means industry professionals would be keen to refer you if they think you are a good fit. Use resources as Networking Letter Templates to make the first contact with industry professionals.
Another group you should focus on is the recruiters group. These are professionals who get paid for every successful hire they facilitate. They are hungry for high potentials as you and will be more than willing to receive your application and find you the right position. They need to find the best candidate, and find them faster than everyone else. There are several other strategies to network effectively: 5 Effective Networking Strategies for PhDs.
4. Develop a systematic system for job searching
Think of job hunting as it as a project that must be organized and executed in a timely manner. You already have the technical and transferable skills to qualify for industry all you need is the right plan. The key is consistency.
Develop a system that has a consistent method to track your job search and applications.
There are several variables that you have to consider in our system: which are the best platforms to conduct the job search, how to track the response rates, how to identify the hiring manager or recruiter for that position, the follow-up method etc. Set your own system and make sure to repeat it in a consistent way. This is not very different concept that the methods you applied in your research.
5. Prepare for the as you did for your thesis defense
You secured an interview, this means made at the top 10-20% of the applicants. However, you still need to secure a job offer and the preparation for the interview is very often underestimated. Take it as seriously as you did when you prepared for your thesis defense. You need to invest in learning and preparation prior to the interviews. Use resources Free Online Course: Interview for Pharma Jobs as in order to get a more specific training for a particular industry.