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ABC-advice for PhDs looking for a job outside academia (part 4)

Bérénice Kimpe - International Cooperation

For each letter of the alphabet, you will find one piece of advice. Today, let's discover the part 4 of the series.
To read the first parts, click here:
part 1 (A - E)

part 2 (F - J)

part 3 (K - N)

P like paint

Van Gogh said: “It’s difficult to know oneself. It isn’t easy to paint oneself either”. That’s something you may feel when looking for a job: deciding what you really want and don’t want, defining who you are and what you want to become is difficult. And then a second difficult question is how do you paint yourself in your applications so that recruiters get the real and vivid picture of you? Analyse your background, do personality tests (eg keirsey.com), get feedback from your family and acquaintances about how they perceive you and what kind of jobs may be suitable for you, request a proofreading of your CV, do a Development Center to determine your personality strengths and development potential… The more you know yourself, the better you can steer your career by setting up the right goals for you.
A good way of painting yourself? Your pitch! Check the next P.

P like pitch
Whatever situation you are in – job interviews, career fairs, networking events, conferences… - there is one question that is asked every time: who are you? Of course, there are plenty of variations like “Tell me about you”, “What do you do?”…
It may sound surprising but even if it is a recurrent question, not so many people are prepared to answer it! That’s a pity because you’ve got only one chance to give a good first impression. Instead of fumbling your lines on the D-day, prepare at home different versions of your pitch that should present you in a way the person in front of you can’t forget: a short one (30 seconds) and a longer one (2-3 minutes). In your pitch, you have to present your current situation (who you are), your past (what you have done so far) and your future (where you’re heading at). Keep it short but precise, it should arouse the curiosity of your interlocutor and make him/her engage in a fruitful discussion. So don’t be boring!

Q like qualify and quantify
Being convincing is about giving striking examples to illustrate your skills, being as much precise as possible. If you are too generic or if you use “we” instead of “I”, recruiters won’t be able to understand your role and your impact in the research project. When you say you have developed, optimized, improved, initiated, created…, try to answer these questions: how much/many (eg. events you organized)? What kind of (eg. partners were involved in your project)? How often (eg. did you report on the project progress)? … By qualifying and quantifying your information, you give a better overview of your environment and increase your credibility as a professional.

R like red thread
Maybe you feel anxious by making career choices: you have heard so many times that they must be consistent with everything in your life, you may fear they won’t be. Don’t think like that: as long as you’re consistent with yourself, you can’t be out of track. You find the so-called “red thread” retrospectively, not necessarily before making your choices. As long as you can explain why you have taken this road and not the other, as long as you don’t randomly make decisions, as long as your career choices are meaningful for you, you’re good and that’s what you have to tell recruiters.

S like social media
Can you imagine being visible for recruiters or headhunters without using social media? Quite difficult, especially nowadays when reactivity, networking, content sharing… are a must. Different tools are at your disposal to create and promote your professional online identity: LinkedIn, xing, Research Gate, Twitter… Just pick up two or three media on which you invest your time and your efforts, keep your information updated and keep being proactive. If you think it takes too much time to post regularly contents, you’re wrong! Just press the button “share with” at the bottom of the article: it will be displayed on your profile and shared with your followers.

T like timeline
Ok, you spent many days or months to define your career goals. Now, you’re ready to implement your strategy to reach them. Great news! But before taking the plunge, set up timelines for each step of your strategy you have defined very precisely beforehand: you know what you have to achieve and when. If you don’t do that, you may be distracted by other things and your search will be longer than expected. Define your own timelines - stay realistic and don’t set goals you are sure you won’t reach within the defined timeline – it will keep you on track.

To be continued next month...

ABG is a French non-profit organization. Our missions are :
  • To facilitate the transition of PhDs (whatever their field and seniority) from academia to the private sector;
  • To help companies recruit PhDs.

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