It started with a good idea that became a testable hypothesis and a research plan. Now all the data has been recorded and analyzed, and you’ve got a research article to write and submit for publication. You know the structure. It’s not quite a recipe, but the ingredients are clear cut. There’s the first page, which includes a title–and sometimes a running or short title–authors, and affiliations, i.e. where the work was done, followed by an abstract and keywords.
Over the past several years, the federal government has been moving toward greater collaboration within and between federal programs, departments and agencies as well as with those outside of government from industry, the private sector, academia and nonprofit organizations.
Congratulations! Your resume has landed you an interview. But to authenticate your work history, prospective employers ask for professional references. They want to know the person behind the resume. To help them do this, they either contact the references directly, or they enlist the services of Professional Reference/Background Checking agencies. Some organizations do both. Regardless of who checks your references, your hope is to have your references support your candidacy for the job.
As you are going through a job search, you inevitably come across a position description for a company that you’d really like to work for. But the position description isn’t a 100% fit. Or even a 70% fit. Maybe (gasp!) not even a 50% fit. So, should you apply? What’s the worst that could happen if you do? It’s pretty likely that if you managed to survive graduate school, you are not a delicate flower. You can handle rejection, or even worse, silence.
References are a critical part of the hiring process, and I have seen the strength (or weakness) of professional references influence the ultimate hiring decision. You don’t want to scramble last-minute to collect your references when you’re in a job search. First of all, it takes time to track people down and if you wait till you’re in late stages with a company you’ll look disorganized (or worse, be disqualified) if you take too long to submit your references.
The idea that getting a PhD is going to hurt your chances of getting a non-academic job is a misconception. In fact, most PhDs go on to get non-academic jobs and most get paid more than non-PhDs in the same position.
You can make yourself marketable. Really, you have to, especially if you’re considering a career change. There are a few things I’ve done or currently do that continue to add to my resume. And yes I know – you have a family. You volunteer. You have a full-time job. You’re a part-time super-hero and spend your evenings fighting crime. Don’t we all? My first pearl of wisdom is, if it’s important to you, you’ll find the time. Give up a Netflix night. It won’t kill you.
Have you ever wondered what you would’ve done if you hadn’t gone into science and gotten a PhD? When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a vet or an interior designer. More recently, I wondered if I’d have made a good urban planner or human resources manager! Over the past year, I’ve been pondering my next career move and, while I always planned to go back to industry after my postdoc, lately I’ve been considering whether I could steer myself in a new direction.