7 Ways Your PhD Propels Your Career
Published: Jul 23, 2015
You may have heard that having a PhD will prevent you from getting a number of jobs. The theory is that highly educated people are too independent and overqualified for jobs, so they are overlooked. This, however, is a myth.
If you have a PhD, you have a big advantage over those with lower levels of education. Despite the common theory that you are overqualified, PhDs are being hired over a wide range of industries. Don’t hold yourself back by believing the all too common myth. There are quite a few advantages to having a higher education.
1. You Can Problem Solve
Problem solving is something that PhDs can do in their sleep. You’ve spent years learning to identify issues, select the right problem from a list of problems and then resolve it. This is an essential skill for businesses and as a highly trained researcher; you can find work by promoting this particular skill.
With your education, you can trace information and do the research to find more in depth information than the average person. In nearly any industry, this is a skill that is in high demand. Don’t just assume that employers will know you possess the ability to problem solve, however. Add it to your CV and bring up specific examples during your interview.
2. You Learn from Failure
No one reaches your level of education without failing multiple times, but that’s a good thing. When you spent days, weeks or even months trying to solve a problem from one angle and then another, you overcame quite a few failures. This is something that every PhD has in common. Even without monetary motivation, you continued to experiment in order to find answers and you learned something from each and every time you didn’t get the result you desired.
The vast majority of people will simply give up when faced with opposition or failure. Since you’ve already proven that you are willing to do what it takes to succeed, you are immediately more employable than most others applying for the same jobs.
3. You Can Handle Difficult People
The vast majority of PhD students have had to deal with difficult academic advisors. While it’s unpleasant to be yelled at and belittled on a regular basis, dealing with an unpleasant advisor prepared you for the real world . . . and for difficult bosses.
The main reason so many students have such terrible experiences is because professors aren’t required to have great social skills. They aren’t always equipped to handle multiple students, creating a negative environment. Even those with unpleasant attitudes can help you learn to overcome the odds, however, so it’s not always a bad thing to study with someone like this.
Chances are, you’ll never run into someone quite as badly mannered as your academic advisor. The worst bosses are rarely this bad, plus you can always find another job.
4. You Handle Uncertainty with Ease
The workplace of today is uncertain. There’s no guarantee that you’ll have a place to work for the next five years, much less the next 40. This makes many people uncomfortable and can affect their work habits. Since you’ve spent much of your adult life trying to get papers published and waiting for a chance to defend your thesis, you’re already accustomed to uncertainty.
In fact, if you have a PhD, chances are you are already pretty used to tackling problems and questions that may or may not have a solution. In the workplace, this translates to taking risks when others aren’t willing to try. You could easily land a job simply because you dared to apply for it when others were afraid to.
5. You Create Your Own Information
All too often, people understand a subject and can present the information they have learned, but they are not able to create or investigate new information. This limits them in all areas of life. For those who have a PhD, coming up with new information is part of the game. This gives you an expertise in your field that no one else can rival.
A Masters degree tends to mean you’ve mastered the particular field you are studying, while those with a PhD will actually contribute to it. If you’ve helped to grow a specific field, you’ve taken things to the next level and this makes you much more valuable than the average person. Since anyone can repeat information they have already learned, which is readily available for research, it is a very common skill. Your ability to create brand new information is something that just 2% of the population can do, which makes you someone in high demand throughout your chosen industry.
6. You Work Well With Others . . . and Against Them
Some people are team players. Some are more competitive. In order to be successful enough to get your PhD, you have to be both. You’ve probably worked with other students quite a bit. Not only have you competed for attention for your work and resources, you’ve spent time collaborating with others. This qualifies you to both work on your own and with a team.
It’s true that PhDs tend to be classified as people who are more likely to work independently, but you can let potential employers know that you are a team player. The simplest method of doing this is to ask plenty of questions during the interview, to determine if you will be working with a group of people. Questions like this indicate to the employer that you are interested and willing to work with your co-workers and helps dispel the lone wolf theory.
Be sure to add your group work to your CV, as well. This can help you land an interview in the first place. Once you have your foot in the door, it’s possible to present yourself in a manner that assures future employers you can be as competitive as needed for the task at hand, while also getting along with and working well with people you are teamed up with. The trick is to be confident and present yourself as such.
7. You Can Work In Any Industry Position
With a PhD under your belt, you are expressly qualified for any job in any industry. If someone says you are overqualified, it generally means you aren’t as social as they’d like or you haven’t represented yourself well enough to convince them of your usefulness in the position.
You have studied more than most people, this is true, but there is no such thing as being too qualified for something. You can’t know too much about a subject. It’s just not possible. If you are rejected for this reason, you’ll need to take a closer look at why you were really rejected. Then change the way you approach jobs and make sure you give the company a good reason to choose you over other applicants. This may require redoing your resume or changing the way you respond to interview questions, but this is easy enough to change.
When in doubt as to why you’re being rejected for jobs, have a friend interview you and give you an honest critique. Once you have a better idea of what you’re doing wrong, you can begin to adjust the way you do interviews and this can make all the difference in getting a job.
You can land a position in the industry you’re interested in. As a PhD, you’re certainly qualified, so all that remains is to ensure that your future employers understand this. Make sure your resume reflects your abilities and strengths and show that you’re a team player. While you may not be a good fit personality-wise with all positions, your education ensures that you are academically ideal for any job you apply for.