In episode four of “PhD Career Stories”, Tina Persson returns for a “tips & tricks”-themed episode. In this podcast, we learn more on how we can prepare ourselves for our next career move by making an inventory of our skills and rewriting our CV:s.
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So hello again, it’s time for episode number four. This is Tina Persson, the founder and inventor of the PhD Career Stories podcast. I am really glad and I hope that you have heard my first episode where I tell a little bit about my own journey from academia to industry, a road trip that I found very difficult but where I learned a lot! So this time, in this pod number four, I am going to give some practical tips and tricks for your first career move.
When I started looking for a job directly after academia, I was at that time assistant professor, I did a big mistake. I started to rewrite my CV by compressing my academic CV to what I thought was an industrial CV. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I had an academic CV of seven to eight pages involving everything about teaching, articles, seminars, posters, awards etc. It was huge. Many of these skills, the industry is not interested of. I was so afraid to miss something and at the same time so proud of my CV, so I compressed it to two pages resulting in an extremely condensed and thick two-page CV. I was of course proud of it. I was a project manager and coordinator and I had tried to start to sell myself like that.
I sent my CV to all recruiters, recruiting companies as well as companies in the region involved in life science. I was at that time an organic chemist. But no-one replied to me.
When I started to call, I said: “Hello my name is … I am assistant professor…I am a PhD in organic chemistry.” And I tried to sell myself that I could more or less do anything from product management and coordinating to sales and marketing.
But I presented myself as an assistant professor and PhD, not even trying to figure out what companies actually do need. Since the two cities Malmö and Lund in south of Sweden are located within a small region, everyone knew I was looking for a job but they had from that moment a clear idea that I was very academic so they of course suggested an academic job.
So my tip to you now is avoid doing such a thing! When you want to change from academia to industry, you need a plan and you need a strategy. So the first thing you are going to do is actually to do what I do as a coach with my clients.
Because as you know, I am a professional career coach and I am training you to go from academia to industry. So many of you that has had me as a coach will probably realize that the first step is exactly what I do. You have to do a personal inventory in your hard skills, your soft skills and your transferable skills.
Hard skills consist of methods and methodologies, it could for example be as in my case as an organic chemist organic chemistry. Of course organic chemistry is a hard skill but what did I do more? I was using PowerPoint, I was using Microsoft Office, I was using statistical softwares, I was doing a lot of chromatography, HPLC, etc. Those are hard skills. If you are in the biology field, hard skills can be such as PCR, cell culture, etc etc. Programming and JAVA are also hard skills. Knowledge on how to work in design tools such as Adobe Illustrator is also a hard skill.
So how many hard skills do you have? Well as a PhD, you should have around 50-60 hard skills that you should list so you remember them.
Also remember what you have done in your spare time! Have you been involved in committees? Organizing things? What hard skills did you learn to use then?
The next step is to identify your transferable skills. For a PhD, the transferable skills are extremely important, because those are the skills, things you do and learn during your PhD, that you then can move and translate to another world and explain what you are good at and what you would like to do in industry.
Let me give you an example. As a PhD you are an expert in analyzing and problem solving, meaning that you can comprehend large amounts of information, design and plan on models that define the problems, as well as test and implement potential solutions. How can you make use of that in industry? And what kind of job titles include this skill? Time to Google!
Another thing that you learn as a PhD is project management and organizing. You manage projects from the beginning to the end. You prioritize tasks while anticipating potential problems. Etc. Project management is a typical transferable skill.
Other typical transferable skills are interpersonal leader skills, research and information management, self management, written and oral communication. And what about entrepreneurship and innovation?
I think that you have to start to work on your transferable skills because that is how you rewrite your CV and use words so that industry understands what you are good at.
But most importantly, you have to sit down and define those transferable skills that you like. Those transferable skills that make you jump out of bed! That is the job you are looking for in industry.
Finally, you have to take a closer look on your soft skills. That is your personality. So if you have access to a Career Service or if you have contact with a Career Coach or any other professional and suitable coach, ask to perform personality tests that help you learn more about yourself and who you are. If you want to learn more visit hucama.com.
Your personality, how important is your personality? I want to put it like this: you are hired for your hard skills, but you are fired for your soft skills. I have personally never ever met a PhD that had the right attitude that never got the job. But I have met many PhDs with a bad attitude not getting the job. Soft skill training learn you how to handle your personality.
So, perform a personal inventory to identify your hard skills, your transferable skills and your soft skills. Do that homework carefully. Spend a couple of weeks on this task and then start to Google and then rewrite your CV!
If you want to hear more about PhD Career Stories, episodes one to three are available on phdcareerstories.com. You can also find us on Facebook – just search for PhD Career Stories. I wish you all the best and good luck with your personal inventory!