In my previous post on searching for a job outside of higher education, I recommended that you use sector-specific keywords to find suitable vacancies on job websites. My rationale is that a good job that a ‘professional X’ like you can apply for will rarely be advertised as specifically requiring a candidate with a PhD. Employers just want professional applicants who can do the job.
That said, there is a second search technique that I’d like to introduce as it’s worth knowing about for completeness. This is to run a search for non-academic jobs that ARE specifically advertised directly at PhDs. The benefit of this approach is obviously that you do find any jobs aimed at PhDs. The downsides of this approach, in my opinion, are:
1. You are limiting yourself to positions where the employer wants to recruit a PhD, which is a very small subset of all the jobs you are qualified for. Remember you are a ‘professional X’ and therefore you should be looking at a much wider range of positions.
2. Within the total pool of PhD jobs advertised, your specialism may or may not come up very often. This is especially the case for humanities PhDs. So if you solely used this technique for job hunting, the risk is that there may not appear to be any jobs for someone with your qualifications, when actually we know that there are many jobs you can do!
Still, used judiciously, this technique can flush out some interesting prospects and help you get to know who’s recruiting. If nothing else, by running a couple of these searches, it can help to convince even the most hardened sceptic that there are actually positions out there for PhDs!
To illustrate this technique, I used the keyword ‘PhD’ and filtered for UK-only positions on the job site glassdoor.com on 22 December 2012. The search returned 4,795 results. Looking at the results, a large proportion were either for software developers who have a PhD, or for PhD programmes. Ignoring these two categories, I’ve selected 2 vacancies that I want to explore in more detail in this post (I’m assuming that if you’re a software programmer with a PhD, you can look after yourself!).
Vacancy 1: Goldman Sachs – Strats Division, Full Time Analyst/Associate
It does annoy me when people say ‘Ah but a PhD doesn’t equip you with skills for the real world’, because an advert like this one shows that a global financial services company like Goldman Sachs obviously thinks that a PhD does! (I might keep a copy of this advert in my pocket for such occasions in the future). The advert says that ‘we are interested in bright individuals who have advanced mathematical and computational backgrounds and a willingness to learn about finance’ and specifically that ‘successful members of our team hold Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees in Physics, Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Science and many other fields.’ So if you have an academic background and skills in Maths, Technology and Finance, this could be a good opportunity for you to make the transition out of academia and into a financial services career in London.
Judging from the advert, they have vacancies within 3 departments: Securities, Investment Banking and Investment Management. Read the text of the advert to find which department one would appeal to you more – depending on whether you would like to be building mathematical models, developing strategies and analyses, or working on electronic trading tools for example. You can think about how your PhD and/or other interests relate to one of these areas, and remember that ‘although the work performed by Strats is financial in nature, applicants need not have specific financial knowledge or experience to apply’.
Clicking on the ‘Apply Now’ button takes you to the job advert on the Goldman Sachs website, from where you can apply online. This could be a great opportunity if you fit the bill and fancy taking your skills to a whole new level in financial services.
Vacancy 2: Edissero – Training Consultant / Trainer
In this advert Edissero is looking for a candidate who can develop and deliver training and who has a life sciences background, specifically ‘a PhD, MSc or BSc in a biological science, chemistry, biotechnology, bioinformatics, cheminformatics or similar scientific discipline’. So this could be an ideal first post if you have a qualification in one of these areas and you are interested in working as a trainer in industry. My first two roles after academia were training roles and I think it’s a great way to make a transition into a business career, using all the skills you’ve gained through your PhD. Reading through the skills and experience required in the advert, you should be able to tick all the boxes if you’ve given lectures and tutorials and used e-learning systems during your doctoral research.
By googling ‘Edissero’ I found that as a company they are ‘a specialist supplier of technical authors, documentation managers and other information development staff to clients in the UK, Europe and North America’ (edissero.com). So it sounds like you would be going straight into working for one of Edissero’s clients, potentially with some overseas travel. If you’re interested in this role the contact details for Michelle Northcott, the recruiter are available, so give Michelle a ring and talk through the job details and your suitability for it.
Edissero are based in Godalming in Surrey. You can apply online after clicking through glassdoor.com and then adzuna.co.uk. to reach the advert on totaljobs.com.
In conclusion, in this post I’ve shown you a technique which you can use to identify a selection of jobs that are advertised specifically at postgrads and PhDs. It’s a useful technique to have in reserve, but it shouldn’t be your primary approach, for the reasons outlined above. If you want to try this search yourself, just click the link to open the job search engine glassdoor.com with PhD jobs already selected, and filter by country, state and city.
Finally, just to say that I’ve reproduced these adverts for illustrative purposes only. I don’t guarantee that the jobs are still available by the time you read this post!
Further reading – choosing your profession
Life after the PhD: 8 inspiring post-PhD interview websites, by Chris
Your job options after a PhD – in a diagram, by Chris
How to search for your ideal job outside academia, by Chris
How to research your target job sector, by Chris
How to get help and advice when applying for jobs outside academia, by Chris
‘But I don’t really know what I want to do!’, by Chris
Deciding who to work for after the PhD, by Chris
Project Management as a career path for PhDs, by Chris