Two years ago or so, you vowed to take on a doctorate, confident that it will lead you closer to your dream career. Fast forward to 2020; the whole world was struck by a pandemic that indeed rocked the already tough job market. The sudden changes in our circumstances made you realize how you weren’t as close to your career goals as you thought.
Before you think those years of painstakingly earning those units were all in vain, at least be aware that you still have options, plenty of them at that. Indeed, there is a growing need for companies to have a rich idea bank, one that’s research-oriented to constantly give them a clear industry insight. Therefore, it’s indispensable to have your Ph.D. research expertise on board.
On the other hand, to go the freelance or consultant route is never the lesser option with the flexible arrangement of projects it offers. This rising free agent trend shows how you can still advance your career and be in complete control of it, yes, even while you’re still to graduate officially. Know that your anxiety towards the transformed industry is very understandable, adding to the stereotype that Ph.D. holders are overqualified. Here are just some ways you can proudly present your Ph.D. background to potential employers or clients.
Update Your Curriculum Vitae
It’s important to regularly update your CVs of any recent career and academic milestones. Likewise, it’s an unwritten rule to have different versions of your CV, each for specific employers or job designations, stating the competencies that’ll lead to success on the job and, of course, highlighting your Ph.D. background. Taking these basic steps sets you up for bigger ones.
However, simply sending your CV to as many companies as possible won’t cut it because all other Ph.D. graduates are already doing the same. Also, unless your current employer promises you a promotion after you graduate, most companies fill in PhD-level positions from within. What you can do instead is get more active in networking.
As early as possible, don’t limit your network to your Ph.D. professors and colleagues. Associate yourself with executive affiliations. Doing so will heighten your chances of being referred to recruitment officers rather than passively emailing that overused CV.
One more opportunity you could exploit is to get to know people during conferences. Although proven to be more difficult during the pandemic, don’t be shy to reach out to participants through online means, say via LinkedIn, if you happened to take note of several goers. These people who are either attending a different university, are alumni, or are professors have rich industry insight, which could be very helpful.
Find Remote Work Opportunities
With the shift of institutions to online instruction for Ph.D. in business administration and other industries, the pandemic gave us a hidden blessing in the form of time to either flexibly work part-time or to actively seek out new opportunities. Again, LinkedIn is a mine for these opportunities. With its features that aid in your search for the best-fitting job, you’re bound to be job-ready just when you’re about to graduate.
So, maximize its benefits by optimizing your profile with the most industry-relevant keywords, connecting with people from the company you want to work in, knowing more companies or people you might fancy to work with, and being aware of the latest industry news. Alert hiring managers looking for your Ph.D. qualifications using LinkedIn’s “Open to Work” profile setting and messaging feature to pitch your offers to prospects. You’ll also be surprised how more receptive companies are with the idea of hiring freelancers or working remotely.
Don’t Neglect the Soft Skills
Years into highly specialized studies might prove the need to brush up on the softer skills as these are equally sought out in the job market. You can do this by enrolling in high-level courses for specific soft skills. You can also integrate these soft skills into your studies, identifying those which you’re weak at. Say you have a hard time defending a thesis. You can work on your presentation skills and dedicate time to your daily schedule to study how to improve this. Set tangible results (the grade you will get in your next defense), and evaluate later how much you improved.
The pandemic has closed many doors but also opened many new ones for all of us. It’s important to remain steadfast with the whys we previously set upon venturing into any project not to get sidetracked when encountering setbacks. Earning a doctorate will stay as a means; the ends will determine if the path you took is genuinely fruitful.