Getting a job after your PhD? You're having a giraffe!

posted
24-Feb-14, 12:46
edited about 27 seconds later
by ginga
Avatar for ginga
posted about 6 years ago
The main reason I did a PhD was to get a top job, like 'Chairman of British Steel' or similar. However, I have struggled to attract any interest from potential employers after applying for several postdoc positions. I find that many want you to be Albert Einstein or insist you have a Nobel prize before applying. I even applied for a RA post that was pretty much the same as my PhD work (and at the same university!) but did not even receive an invite for an interview. That's just downright nastiness, right?
posted
24-Feb-14, 13:03
Avatar for metabanalysis
posted about 6 years ago
Sorry to hear you can't find a job. Is it nastiness? Possibly, but there may be lots of reasons for not getting a job e.g. the economy, recruiting policy, being overqualified, bottlneck in speciality etc. Best thing you can do is try to get feedback from HR on why you get overlooked.
posted
24-Feb-14, 14:00
edited about 6 seconds later
by Fled
Avatar for Fled
posted about 6 years ago
I think that the elephant in the room is that people choose research areas that are very hard to attract interest. Especially in social sciences, some of the topics I have seen are so abstract they resemble self gratification on the part of the candidate. No one says it, but I will. Sometimes people just pic a garbage topic to research.

You still have to eat to live, which costs money. If you are going to spend 3 years branding yourself, at least make some areas of your research "sexy" enough to garner the interest of industry as you will need to make money from it. I call this situaitonal awareness. Understanding patterns and the reality of the market where you live and more importantly globally.

Dont try to sell winter coats in the Bahamas.
posted
24-Feb-14, 14:40
by ginga
Avatar for ginga
posted about 6 years ago
I do actually have a job but I am not using my PhD. It was something I did until I graduated but looks like I'll be doing it for the duration. I just fancy doing something that equates to all those years of PhD work really. Even my boss said that she expects me to leave now I have the doctorate under my belt. Maybe I should just count myself lucky that I do have a job and stop whinging on.
posted
24-Feb-14, 16:14
edited about 19 seconds later
by Fled
Avatar for Fled
posted about 6 years ago
More importantly don't stagnate, and keep prosecuting the fight for a better more fulfilling career. Always.
posted
24-Feb-14, 18:33
by TheReal
Avatar for TheReal
posted about 6 years ago
I think that the elephant in the room is that people choose research areas that are very hard to attract interest. Especially in social sciences, some of the topics I have seen are so abstract they resemble self gratification on the part of the candidate. No one says it, but I will. Sometimes people just pic a garbage topic to research.


I think you should choose a topic of your interests. Going for a fancy topic for which you do not have much interest, would be difficult to carry on for long years of research to come.
posted
24-Feb-14, 19:07
by ginga
Avatar for ginga
posted about 6 years ago
I was sort of under the impression that just by completing a PhD, it would be a passage of right to apply for any position even if the research topic is not related to it. Surely employers are aware of the determination and dedication required to be successful in a PhD, aren't they? I thought the phone would never stop ringing the day after I graduated with offers of gainful and fulfilling career opportunities but I have thus far been clearly misguided.
posted
24-Feb-14, 19:21
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 6 years ago
Quote From ginga:
I was sort of under the impression that just by completing a PhD, it would be a passage of right to apply for any position even if the research topic is not related to it. Surely employers are aware of the determination and dedication required to be successful in a PhD, aren't they? I thought the phone would never stop ringing the day after I graduated with offers of gainful and fulfilling career opportunities but I have thus far been clearly misguided.


Yes... it's sad situation.
posted
24-Feb-14, 19:48
edited about 28 seconds later
by TheReal
Avatar for TheReal
posted about 6 years ago
That's why it would be lot better to spend some time in industry or doing a job before embarking on a PhD? And yet again, the motive for PhD should be pursuance of your interest and knowledge and may be this can later help in avoiding job search blues.
posted
24-Feb-14, 21:44
edited about 14 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 6 years ago
@TheReal I'm not sure time in industry is going to make any difference either.

The best thing to do is is do a PhD because you want to do one, but don't expect for it to lead to a great job afterwards because it probably won't.
posted
24-Feb-14, 22:18
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 6 years ago
When I left my job to start my PhD, a colleague said to me, 'you know they won't employ you here again if you get a PhD....don't you?' That's the scary thing about it all - I'm absolutely certain of doors closing but need other ones to open in their place ;)
posted
24-Feb-14, 23:07
Avatar for HazyJane
posted about 6 years ago
Quote From ginga:
I was sort of under the impression that just by completing a PhD, it would be a passage of right to apply for any position even if the research topic is not related to it. Surely employers are aware of the determination and dedication required to be successful in a PhD, aren't they? I thought the phone would never stop ringing the day after I graduated with offers of gainful and fulfilling career opportunities but I have thus far been clearly misguided.


I'm not 100% sure if you're serious, but if so I'm afraid you have been mis-advised. A PhD is essentially an apprenticeship for a specific job (career academic/researcher) where the availability of successful candidates far outweighs the number of jobs available in most fields.

It is certainly not a ticket to a position where you have no related experience (it can be possible to transfer, but it depends on your competition). Many external employers will fail to understand the skills and insights gained through your studies and see you as potentially less equipped for a job than your peers who went out to work after Bachelors/Masters. There are exceptions, but brace yourself for having to convince people of your suitability.

Essentially if you want to proceed with job hunting, it may be best to throw away any previous assumptions you had about how your qualifications will be perceived, and work out how best to market you (rather than your degrees) as a good job candidate.

It's not nice to realise this at this stage, though at least you are making the realisation while employed, rather than looking for any work at all.
posted
25-Feb-14, 00:00
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for incognito
posted about 6 years ago
Hi ginga,
I feel exactly the same way- when I finished my PhD I thought hey PhD in a "good" subject not a "soft" one would land me a top position. Luckily, I got a temporary job that's very good but it took several months after finishing the PhD, and with personal issues in my life not helping, I still think that any other time (for example, if I did my PhDs in the 1950s or 60s lol) I would've had a smoother ride.
As HazyJane said: the situation now is that supply>>>>>demand in the PhD jobs market, and so you have to be creative and look outside the box. That's what I did- I stopped focussing just on postdocs and looked at public and private-sector jobs (and left the UK as well, which sucks :)). I disagree with HazyJane, however, when she said that employers see you as potentially less equipped than BSc/MSc ppl: it all depends on how you market yourself vis-a-vis job specs.
Don't know what to say- I've been feeling low lately so know that you're not alone lol we all are struggling one way or another as a result of limited opportunities in life and high expectations from those who simply don't understand the torment we went through to get the doctorate and a host of personal non-PhD issues :(:(.
posted
25-Feb-14, 03:05
edited about 10 seconds later
by Fled
Avatar for Fled
posted about 6 years ago
Quote From TheReal:

I think you should choose a topic of your interests. Going for a fancy topic for which you do not have much interest, would be difficult to carry on for long years of research to come.


Absolutely! However you have quite a bit of latitude within your field of interest, so why not be innovative about it. In 2014 can you really say that research topic selection is not a business decision? I argue that it is, and must be weighed accordingly.
posted
25-Feb-14, 08:37
edited about 20 seconds later
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 6 years ago
I have seen people study extremely 'niche' topics which seem unlikely to tie in with any future job. Not only that, but when you look to see who's supervising them, it becomes clear that the supervisor is just creating little 'mini-me's' and ending up with a huge publication list - the supervisor being the one person who can probably make a living out of the niche area. I agree with Fled that you need to have an eye on the value of your topic outside of your PhD department, or at least to be grabbing as many transferable skills as you can along the way.

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