#altac – How to look for jobs outside academia

You are about to finish your degree, master or PhD, and you are panicking because you have to apply for jobs but none tells you how to do it? After my last post on how to structure your CV (if you haven’t read it yet, please, check here), I was involved in loads of conversation about transferrable skills and what universities do or, most likely, don’t do to help the transition from academia to industry. I honestly don’t believe this is fair at all as, in many countries, students end up with an eternal mortgage to get an education.

I can’t repeat this enough. I feel incredibly lucky to be a student in this university and specifically be part of this PhD programme because they put loads of afford in encouraging us to move from academia to industry. By encouraging, I mean that they actually provide students with means and bespoken training to do it! How cool is that?

Universities shoud do more to help students with their transition to industry, above all, if you got a mortgage to get a degree!

The biggest mistake you can do when applying for jobs is to apply for any job. I get that many students, myself included, are so desperate to finish their Ph.D. and move away that they would accept any offer as long as companies give them a nice salary. My advice is to actually spend a bit of time understanding your potential, your inclination and motivation before applying for a job. Trust me that this isn’t a waste of time! This self-assessment and reflection are crucial to finding your dream job!


NEVER NEVER NEVER APPLY FOR JOBS YOU’RE OVERQUALIFIED FOR! As a Ph.D. student in any discipline in STEM, you actually get loads of experience in research. The fact that you carry out your work in academia rather than industry still means that you actually do research. So, the kind of jobs you have to look for are senior scientist position. Me a senior scientist? YESS! They require 4/5 years of experience in research which you do have because a Ph.D. programme is at least a 4-year process in any country!

Do not apply for lab technitian jobs, you are overquilified for it, you need to look for senior scientist positions!

THE COMPANY ETHIC IS NON-NEGOTIABLE CRITERIA. My current philosophy is to work for companies where the work environment is in line with my ethical principals. What is the level of satisfaction of employees? How long do employ stay in a company before they quit their job? How is work-life balance ethics? Do they require you to consistently work outside normal hours, over weekends, holidays, Christmas, Easter, etc? How much do they care about their employees? Do they encourage you in your personal development or you just a machine for them to make money?

Remember that you bring value to a company, you aren’t just a machine for making them money!


So how to find the best company-match for you? If you still have the diary where you made the self-assessment to evaluate your skills, open a new page and WRITE DOWN YOUR INFLUENCE AND MOTIVATIONS. Seriously ask yourself “what does get me out of bed early in the morning? what drives me to do my best every morning?”. Making money for myself, helping other people, making the world a better place, having a 9-5 job to live a laid-back life, paying for a mortgage and a car? Make a list of all the things you would like to achieve within your job, your values and ethics and find a company whose vision and philosophy is in line with your principles! You will certainly not be suited for any job and this is perfectly fine.

For smashing job interviews, I recommend reading the book 60 Seconds and You’re Hired! and for a self-assessment test on finding the job which is in line with your motivations, please take a look at this website https://www.prospects.ac.uk/. You will find loads of userful resources to find your dream job!

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