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ABC-advice for PhDs looking for a job outside academia (part 3)

Bérénice Kimpe - International Cooperation

Today, the third part of the alphabet series: K to N. Enjoy!
To read part 1: click here!

To read part 2: click here!

K like kiwi

There are two kinds of kiwi: the classical green one, the sweeter golden one. Same fruit, same shape but the inside colour and the taste are different… like your work experiences! Of course you’ve got a specific position, within a specific organisation, with a specific research project to conduct. That are facts you can’t change but you can decide how to present it in order to make it tasteful for non-academic recruiters: less jargon and more business-oriented vocabulary, bigger focus on tasks and results than on your research topic itself…
What flavour do you want to give to your profile? An academic one or a more transferable one? It’s up to you!

L like luck
I organised many networking events in which doctorate holders were proud of sharing their experience as a job-seeker and –finder. For many of them, luck was part of their success. Even if we talk a lot about methods for career planning, consider it as an orientation map from which you can step aside when you catch an opportunity you may have not thought about. As Pasteur once said, “chance favours the prepared mind”.

M like motivation

Everyone wants to work with motivated people: employers, co-workers, clients. That is one of the main reasons you will be hired. The challenge is now: how can you convey your motivation? First of all, by preparing your application: no generic CV, pinpointing the fit between you and the position to fill, excellent knowledge of the company, its activities and its environment, use of a dynamic and positive vocabulary (short sentences, active form)… During the interview, show your motivation by interacting with the person in front of you: ask questions about what (s)he has just said, about the company’s or department’s  development, the team you are going to work with… And try to imagine what you would do if you were recruited.

O like outfit
The way you are dressed is part of your professional branding: don’t underestimate it! In order to avoid a fashion faux-pas, check out how people in the company are dressed and match their dress code. So, leave your Hawaiian shirt at home!

N like networking (source: Daniel Reupke)
In the 19th century, people were more likely to lend money to strangers than to their own family members. With non-members, called “weak ties”, people could get a greater benefit: more potential clients (strong ties like family members were limited, so were the business opportunities with them), more freedom to create profitable conditions (with strong ties, it was common to practice friendly prices). And to do business, they relied on intermediaries, i.e. people connecting loaners with borrowers, because they created trust. So, from a historical perspective, it was established that weak ties and connections to people with resources were more beneficial than strong ties or getting acquainted with decision makers.
Back to nowadays: for your career, connect to people with resources (information, connections…)!

To be continued next month...

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  • To facilitate the transition of PhDs (whatever their field and seniority) from academia to the private sector;
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