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job after phd

Getting A Job: Advice For PhD And Post Doctoral Students

job after phd

Many PhD and Post Doctoral students go through their academic days with the assumption that they will continue their career in this profession once they’ve finished. However, academic posts are limited and there are only a few national research organisations. So when it comes to looking for jobs outside academia, where do you start and how do you convey your educational experience as an advantage?

 

Recently members of Sigmar’s Science & Engineering Division were involved with a career clinic for PhD and Post Doctoral students and the following is our advice.

 

CV Advice

 

For a non-academic role, the emphasis is on the skills and experiences you have that are relevant. Many PHD students fall into the trap of preparing their CV for a non-academic role in the same way they do for a research position. Their CV reads as a typical research track record and there has been no attempt to tailor it for the specific position they are applying for.

 

The key for a non-academic selection is to be selective in what you include and to tailor your CV to each role’s job requirements. For example only provide details of your research/publications if relevant to the position you are applying for.

 

Employers are not just recruiting for your research skills, they also want to see problem solving, report writing, communication, time management, leadership, teamwork and project management skills. In completing your PHD, you already have these skills but you need to articulate them through your CV.

 

Again from experience of writing academic CVs, PHD students tend to write passively and provide dense detail. For an industry position, you should have more “active language” (i.e. in the first person) and avoid technical or specialist terms unless relevant to the position you are applying for.

 

If you have commercial experience, show it! Whether you have industry experience from a 3 month internship or a full time job, make sure to include this in your CV. Employers want to see you have industry experience.

 

To Gain Experience

 

There are a number of ways that graduates can be proactive in obtaining employment.

 

Firstly show your eagerness by approaching companies directly. Find out who is responsible for hiring, email them to enquire about potential opportunities within their organisation and follow up with a phone call. Even though the company may not be recruiting at the moment, it will put you in mind for future roles or they may be able to direct you towards a company that is hiring.

 

Secondly don’t be afraid of an internship! Many PHD students just have aspirations for academic careers, so when it comes to applying for non-academic roles they find they lack work experience. A great way for getting your foot in the door is through an internship. Whether it be through Job Bridge or an unpaid internship, you are gaining relevant experience and it may lead to a position in the end.

 

Finally, with the job climate being as it is, having a PhD unfortunately doesn’t mean you will gain a senior role immediately. Be flexible about available opportunities, start at entry level and progressg quickly up the ladder because of your educational experience.

Posted by Mark Loughnane, Past Science & Engineering Graduate Recruitment Consultant on 28 November 2017

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