Post-viva, looking for fill-in work - should I leave out the PhD?


Hi All,
Never posted a thread on here before, but I've read loads of your posts with interest (and relief that I wasn't alone!), so I'd like some advice:

I'm post-viva, and applying for post-docs for Sept 2010, in the meantime I need a job. I'd sent out 40 applications and cvs to jobs for which I had experience and skills, mainly admin/office jobs. Not a sniff.
So, being slightly pedantic about it, I removed my PhD from my cv (I haven't yet graduated, so 'officially' am not qualified, I taught all the way through my doctorate, so just put Graduate Teaching Assistant to account for the time), and have now had 2 interviews out of 10 applications. Same kinds of jobs, same salary, same basic cv.

However, in the interview I had today (which made me realise why I DON'T want to work outside in the cold scary real world!!), they asked me point blank 'are you doing a PhD then?' I said no, since technically, I'm no longer 'doing', but I got a strong impression they thought/knew otherwise. I've just googled myself, and although it's not totally apparent from all the results, someone with half a brain could put it together and figure it out.

I'm fairly sure that they won't offer me the job, should I try and pre-empt that by coming clean and explaining that having full disclosure has led to no job offers? I'm aware that I haven't actually done anything illegal (ah the power of Google), but I would like to find a way around this dilemma for the future! I have nine months to fill up (assuming I even get a postdoc), and I do need to work!

Does anyone have suggestions/experience of this?


======= Date Modified 08 Jan 2010 22:31:24 =======
Wow, that's terrible, like a PhD is something you should be ashamed of!! Maybe you're aiming too low, if employers are put off by you having a PhD? But I understand the need to just work while you're regards to your last interview, I wouldn't go back and say anything, I think this would just make it worse, like you're trying to explain your cover up. Explaining now is unlikely to make them offer you the job if they've already decided not to do so. So, just let it go. If they do get back to you and mention it again, then I think you should let them know about your studies. In future interviews, I'd also tell the full story that you've finished etc, but then also have a spiel ready for why you want the job, to allay any concerns that they may have that you'll leave when something better comes along (which you will!).

So, congratulations on finishing, and good luck job hunting!


Hi JoJo....

Interested post. I'm at the early stages of my PhD and I do part time work (and other qualifications as well) to supplement my income. I'll let people know if I'm doing a PhD if it's directly related to a position - for example a research position. If it's not related I don't go into it. Part of me doesn't want to seem over qualified. Having said that, if someone asked me directly I wouldn't look for 'loop holes'. Still, each to their own.

Good luck.


I'm sure that having a PhD has a mixed effect depending on job, employer and even interviewer. However, if asked point-blank like that I would recommend you tell them: people may employ a PhD but I can't imagine many would employ someone they thought lied at interview.


======= Date Modified 09 Jan 2010 23:11:49 =======
You quite clearly looked like you're trying to hide the PhD by changing the title and trying to avoid giving a straight answer in the interview, which can make you come across as untrustworthy. You should be honest. If they won't hire you because you have a PhD, you're better off not working there.


Thank you all for your replies; I was probably not very clear in my original post. I'm looking for temporary work to fill nine months. If I were looking for a permanent post, I would have no hesitation about being totally honest in my cv; as it is, I'm not getting any interviews for the kind of jobs I can get for the nine months. I can't really go for a graduate position for that short a time, and the temping agencies I've signed up to haven't got very much on the books. I was looking for advice from anyone who's overcome similar difficulties, really.


======= Date Modified 10 Jan 2010 17:48:03 =======
What sort of jobs are you going for? PhD aside do you have all the skills and experience they are asking for? If you are going for admin office jobs you could be competing with highly skilled and experienced administrators who have lots of experience of doing that job and they are going to get the interviews. I'm not doubting that you could do the jobs but on paper you might not be as qualified for that particular job. I think there is a tendency to think because of the academic level of a PhD we would easily be able to do certain jobs. But think how you would feel if it was the other way around. I have seen very low paid admin jobs which I knew I could do but there were lots of things on the job spec which I didn't satisfy.
I agree that you should be totally honest about the PhD but maybe you need to look round for jobs where the PhD skills and experience are more relevant. I don't know what your subject is so this will probably make a difference so I won't give advice which is related to my area unless it turns out we are in similar fields.

Avatar for Eska

======= Date Modified 10 Jan 2010 18:56:02 =======
Hi Jojoegypt,

I think leaving the PhD off the CV for temporary work is a good thing: just include the work that's relevant, there's nothing wrong with that, most people do it - it's good CV technique; however, I don't think telling a lie that can be found out during an interview is ever a good idea, so if people ask you out-right, I think you should just tell them.

If you have 9 months maybe you could do a PGCE, plenty of courses start around now and you might get a late acceptance - the money isn't great, but it's an income and the training is useful for your career. Alternatively, why not just go on the dole and work on publications until you do get something?


======= Date Modified 10 Jan 2010 19:53:55 =======
jojoegypt I understood this was the case from your original post. You can't leave out the PhD because employers are going to want to know what you've done for the last 3 years. You can't rename it because, as I and others pointed out, it looks dishonest. It's tough finding work now as there's a lot of competition due to high unemployment, it's not as simple as if you put PhD or not on your CV. It's like this for everyone. You just have to keep trying. Maybe you'll have better luck with finding work within your uni. I wouldn't advice a PGCE, as it doesn't pay, but rather costs and it is a full time post-graduate course for people interested in teaching. So unless you want to continue studying to be a teacher, it's really not worth it. It'll look a bit pointless on a CV without further teaching experience afterwards.

Avatar for Eska

Verypoor: PGCEs don't cost, who on earth told you that? They are free and there is a 6 grand stipend for arts subjects, higher for others: languages get 10 grand - this covers the 9 month programme - so in some cases it can ve more than a PhD stipend and much easier tocome by . Many uni posts now ask for people with PGCEs, or some other teaching qualification. I know of department that is making everyone already employed on a permanent contract complete a PGCE. Maybe you're outside the UK? The decision t PGCE or not PGCE is, of course personal, but it will not cost and is far from irrelevant to an academic career.

Leaving things off your CV is perfectly sensible - it's called tailoring, don't worry Jojo has other work which more relevant to cover that period. For example, when applying for teaching posts I don't include my stint in data entry on my CV. Employers know the CV you send them is not your whole storty, just the bit they need to know about.


======= Date Modified 10 Jan 2010 20:26:29 =======
======= Date Modified 10 Jan 2010 20:25:51 =======
When I was interested in a science PGCE, I was told at the most half the tuition fee is paid and therefore the bursary would have to contribute to the rest of the fees. I know language PGCEs are more encouraged due to a shortage in teachers. At most unis lecturers don't need a PGCE to teach. Certainly in my field, unless it's a school post, I've never seen it asked for.

Employers always want to know about gaps in employment, particularly long ones. Applications often ask about these and it is asked in interviews. Like for the position of the postdoc I work with (at uni of Birmingham, I'm British), a person was interviewed who left a huge gap in his CV. They did ask him why this was the case and he didn't get the job. I don't know about you, but I've worked in many sectors, in academia and outside of it and a major pet hate of employers are gaps in applications without good reason. They will ask.

Edit: I missed the bit about Jojo having other work experience to cover that period. Well that's ok then, but if they ask you in the interview if you done a PhD, you know what to say now. :-)

Avatar for Eska

Ok, so things have changed and not all places are fully fiunded - I just checked the website - but many place stilll are. All posts I've seen in my field or similar ask for some kind of teaching qualification, preferably a PGCE, your area - some kind of science - doesn't seem to, but from what I've seen and heard that's unusual outside of the very top league of research unis.

Whe I applied to take a PGCE I was told funding would not be a problem, it was practically automatic - I looked at English.