No job after 3 years of PhD. My options are?

posted
27-Jul-16, 15:37
Avatar for Talented
posted about 3 years ago
I have a PhD in molecular biology and working as an adjunct for past three years post graduation. Sent more than 100 applications. Had a few interviews, academic and non academic. I started working for a domestic violence crisis center about five months ago and have been devoting a lot of hours (since adjunct position covers only 10hrs/wk). I like what I do at the crisis center and passionate and committed to it. Recently, a position opened up and I applied. But got rejected. That was a low point and a severe blow. I am scared to go into depression and fear that I might do something not so right. Don't know how to cope the sadness that ensues. My self-esteem has been dying bit-by-bit since last three years. I cannot share this pain with anyone. I have posted it yesterday on a different thread but that is dead for about 2 years. Would like to hear from someone going through the same situation.
posted
27-Jul-16, 17:16
Avatar for HazyJane
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From Talented:
I like what I do at the crisis center and passionate and committed to it. Recently, a position opened up and I applied. But got rejected. That was a low point and a severe blow.


Firstly, congratulations on finding a field and role you feel passionate about! That's great, and it's something that people sometimes struggle with post-PhD, so you're doing really well to have found that. I hope that this alone would support developing some positive self esteem.

Now, on to the rejection. Whether one has no qualifications, or one has a PhD, there is always a chance of rejection with any job application. Sometimes it means that one not the right candidate, but sometimes a person can be perfectly good enough, but just pipped to the post on the day by someone who is a tiny bit of a better fit. It is not worth wasting too much energy on a single rejection, disappointing though it might be.

Have you sought feedback on how your application process went? It is important to know whether it was due to something on the application, or in the interview, or a skills gap (perceived or actual). If you can find out this then you can increase your chances on the next occasion by improving anything that needs improving. Or if it was just that someone else was a bit better on the day, then you can be reassured you are already a good candidate and just need to wait for another go at getting a role.

If you don't think there will be many opportunities forthcoming in your current organisation, have a think about what engages you about the job (Working with people? Dealing with crisis situations?) and then you can identify other organisations to apply to as well, who will appreciate the experience that you have gained with the crisis centre, if you pitch your application in such a way that highlights it.
posted
27-Jul-16, 17:43
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 3 years ago
I think HazyJane has given you some great advice if you're sure this is the direction you want to move in. I hope you can get some feedback.
I also wonder whether adjuncting is making you feel worse not better about your situation. I think during the PhD we can get really socialised into believing that not getting a fulltime academic job is failure and that universities are the best environment to work in. I'm pretty sure both of those statements are untrue. I think for some people part-time teaching (and the exploitation that goes with it) actually heightens the incorrect feeling that you've failed as you have to interact with those who did get lucky and got that fulltime job. I don't know whether you are geographically tied or what the employment situation is like where you live, but could you earn as much doing a different sort of job? I think sometimes being reminded that we can do things and are perfectly competent people, by succeeding at anything, is what we need in the post-PhD world to repair self-esteem.
posted
27-Jul-16, 18:08
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 3 years ago
http://chronicle.com/forums/index.php/board,28.0.html this might be worth looking at for advice too.
posted
27-Jul-16, 20:39
Avatar for Talented
posted about 3 years ago
Thanks HazyJane and Bewildered. Feel nice to hear from you guys. When I applied for the position at the crisis center, I thought these guys know me since I am volunteering there 5-10hrs/wk. In addition, I have started a weekly manicure program for the victims, which they love. I have also discussed a few of my ideas for the institute. I was so optimistic! I think that is why it was such a big blow when the rejection came.
As per the HazyJane's advise, I am waiting for the dust to settle and certainly going to go to my interviewer to get the feedback. My adjunct school (and I love the people here), I had been working for them for about 1.5yr when a positioned opened. Certainly, I applied and certainly, I got rejected. Rejection is hard to swallow when you felt that people might vote in your favor since they know you for sometime. But I think, at least in the field of academia, job is all about money. Who can bring most grant money to the school. Since I am still at the same school (you can tell I love teaching), I know the new hires are having difficult time with teaching, because research is their passion and not the teaching.
Thanks Bewildered for sharing the other link for forums. I am going to check it out.
I can't express how much your words mean right now when I find myself alone and being sick of the struggle.
Thanks again and thanks a lot.
posted
27-Jul-16, 22:02
edited about 23 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 3 years ago
You're not alone Talented. There are loads of us in the same position. Too many PhDs and too few jobs. Not all of us can do the jobs we would love to do. It doesn't mean the people with academic jobs are better than those without, there's a hell of a lot of luck involved too.
posted
28-Jul-16, 10:49
edited about 3 seconds later
by AOE26
Avatar for AOE26
posted about 3 years ago
Getting a job is a numbers game - certainly in 'business' (as opposed to academia). I have experienced 1% interview rate for positions applied for - yep 1 in a 100 roles I applied for I got an interview. I have also applied for 5, got 4 interviews and offered 3.
I have applied for the same role via 2 different agencies, one never rang me back - the other I got an interview and the role.

I am not going into reasons, over analyse it or give advice on how to better your chances in this discussion but rather to say - keep going, your next role will at some time be the next job you apply for.
posted
28-Jul-16, 13:59
Avatar for Talented
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From TreeofLife:
Too many PhDs and too few jobs. Not all of us can do the jobs we would love to do.

@Treeoflife: Great words of wisdom. Also, I chose the username 'talented' in an attempt to save the last shred of my self-respect. Trying to stay positive.

Quote From AOE26:
I am not going into reasons, over analyse it or give advice on how to better your chances in this discussion but rather to say - keep going, your next role will at some time be the next job you apply for.

@AOE26: Thanks for being a cheerleader. Will continue on my path of Karma.
Thanks a lot guys!
posted
14-Aug-16, 08:59
edited about 22 seconds later
Avatar for ralooval
posted about 3 years ago
similar situation. already three years without a job and getting into my fourth. to make ends meet, I work part time in 7/11.. depressing for sure.. but hey.. seems like life is not always what we wish of it to be.. trying o be grateful however for whatever I have..
posted
17-Aug-16, 00:39
edited about 13 minutes later
Avatar for Ghost_Town
posted about 3 years ago
Well I don't know where are you located. UK?
I have no idea how UK job market looks like, but in the US things are getting pretty tough for PhDs.

PhD is only a good way to immigrate here if you are not originally from this country. But if you already have citizenship or green card you are digging your own grave by getting PhD (from non-academic career perspective). You are automatically overqualified for most industrial jobs. This job market is over-saturated with PhDs. I don't regret that I chose this path and I should be grateful for what I have (at least I have a job at OK company). However it's really hard to find better company. I've been monitoring the job market actively for a year now and see less and less jobs in my field. Two years ago it was much better. I think this is sign of new major recession coming. August normally is a month when companies start hiring actively. But right now I don't see enough new job listings. There are some, but in undesirable locations, and overall it's very small amount of listings.

...But if you could not get job in 3 years after PhD, there is something fundamentally wrong. You need to identify what's wrong. Either dead-end specialization, zero job market, inefficient job application process, or all combined together. But you could survive somehow, right? If you can't get job from someone, try to create it yourself. I have a side business and I actually enjoy it a lot more than my regular job. My side business doesn't require any degree or certificate. Maybe you can figure something out too. I am thinking about expanding my side business and maybe giving up regular job in a future after this business starts bringing enough $$$.
posted
18-Aug-16, 14:23
edited about 15 seconds later
Avatar for PracticalMouse
posted about 3 years ago
I think that at least in the UK, teaching is taking more and more of a backseat in academia. Much more important to get funding in and contribute with research to the REF. I know the TEF is meant to be coming, but ultimately people who can do great research and acceptable teaching will be ahead in the job race of someone who is not interested in research and just amazing at teaching. Should it be like that? I am not sure, but often wonder why do a PhD if you don't like the research aspect. But maybe it's different in the sciences.

Have you considered getting some career counselling and job interview training? Your university might provide both, and it can be really helpful to get some independent feedback on your interview technique. It seems from your post that your qualifications are not the problem (you are getting to the interview stage), but not coming over well at the interview stage might be.

Good Luck!
posted
18-Aug-16, 16:48
edited about 10 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From Ghost_Town:
Well I don't know where are you located. UK?
I have no idea how UK job market looks like, but in the US things are getting pretty tough for PhDs.

PhD is only a good way to immigrate here if you are not originally from this country. But if you already have citizenship or green card you are digging your own grave by getting PhD (from non-academic career perspective). You are automatically overqualified for most industrial jobs. This job market is over-saturated with PhDs. I don't regret that I chose this path and I should be grateful for what I have (at least I have a job at OK company). However it's really hard to find better company. I've been monitoring the job market actively for a year now and see less and less jobs in my field. Two years ago it was much better. I think this is sign of new major recession coming. August normally is a month when companies start hiring actively. But right now I don't see enough new job listings. There are some, but in undesirable locations, and overall it's very small amount of listings.



The thing is, it does not matter where you are located. The job market for PhDs is almost everywhere the same. I lived now in four different European countries (all with strong economies), worked with tons of people from overseas and never have I ever heard that the job perspective is good. Everybody tells you that it is terrible and most of the people end up in jobs that have little to do with what they were trained for (research)....if they are lucky... However, at least for Germany I can assure you that you are not better off with a Masters in Chemistry, Biology or Physics at the moment. Media and Universities always communicate that there is a lack of scientists in the country while the science sector is actually completely oversaturated. Writing 100 applications to get a single interview is not a rare event and most people can't even choose the state they are living in. Staying in a certain area is almost impossible. The reason a lot of people get into a PhD is often just a lack of other opportunities.

So hang in there Talented. You are definitely not alone....
posted
25-Dec-18, 19:07
Avatar for Hopeful_Scientist
posted about 10 months ago
You are not alone. I have a PhD in the Life Sciences with several publications (coupled to student loan debt). I taught classes, but also needed to supplement income and rationalized that I would find a job after graduation to pay off debt). Two years later and 200+ job applications later......nothing. I have also taught as an adjunct at community college. Many of my friends with a PhD are in the same situation, except for those whom participated in industry internships during their PhD. I recently went to a conference full of UC Berkeley PhD students (Beyond Academia conference) concerned about how to get a job after graduation. I took away that personal connection is 85% important, matching keywords in job description (there is an algorithm that weeds out majority of resumes if they do not have keywords) is also important. I then paid (on credit cards) to attend conferences in order to network. These were great experiences, but did not lead to positions. Currently, I am a high school substitute teacher. I would love to work in a laboratory; however, I am scared that after two years of teaching, the chances are slimmer. Hang in there, there are many of us and you are NOT alone!
posted
14-Aug-19, 19:29
Avatar for DrDichotomy
posted about 2 months ago
Similar. 9 months since getting the PhD. Living on savings because the DWP would crush my soul. Hundred of job applications, every day is filled with writing more. Seventeen actual interviews. Still no job. The savings will run out by November. If it were not having a wife to hang on for, I'd suicide by Christmas. As it is I just live day to day. I can't even get a job as a waiter.
posted
15-Aug-19, 23:52
Avatar for Phormulater
posted about 2 months ago
This is surprising. Have you tried looking up interview techniques or workshops? In the UK the job market is very good, if you don't mind moving to the 'golden triangle', and you have a good set of molecular/cellular biology techniques.
I finished my PhD in life sciences in Wales and straight after I had done my corrections I was on to the job sites. I was looking at industry jobs solely.
I got 5 interviews and 3 offers. I turned down GSK and a medium/small sized biotech.
Having said that i've always enjoyed writing and realise what needs to be said in a CVs/interviews. In fact I've done CVs for friends.

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