It has been months of looking for roles you thought you qualified for.

In fact, some of those roles have downright been the kind where you know you’re overqualified for.

Yet, you’re still hearing nothing.

For PhDs, this can be especially challenging because your mind begins to tell you that perhaps all the time you put into your education was a waste of your time. Perhaps you might feel betrayed. Betrayed by the fact that nobody told you that the job search process for PhDS could be demoralizing.

I know this feeling because a few years ago, I was right in that place.

In this post, I want to acknowledge your pain and disappointment.

However, the fact that you are reading this post is evidence that it is possible to get on the other side of the PhD unemployment hole.

So how exactly do you continue your job search when you’re exhausted?

The main thing is to focus on what you can control.

Focusing on what you can control

You can’t control the ghosting from HR professionals.

You can’t control the fact that companies post jobs on Indeed and LinkedIn sometimes as a condition that they “advertised” the role when in fact they’ve already filled it.

We can’t control the economy or hiring cycles.

But this doesn’t mean we don’t wield any control at all.

Here is what you can control.

Your skills

No this is not a tired cliche. We are living in a world where skills, not necessarily your education, matter more than ever.

Yes, your PhD dissertation matters in the academic setting but for people looking outside academia, it is important that you align the skills you’ve acquired over the course of your PhD with what the market is looking for.

In this video below, I talk about what some of those skills are.

Yes, you will have to dig deep.

Yes, in some instances, you may even need to learn new skills.

But remember that as a PhD, you are the BOSS of learning.

So even if you think you know a particular skill based on a job description, dig deeper. Find out what they’re really looking for. And then work on incorporating the right skills-related phrases into your resume.

Your network

You have power to still build your network.

I always remember this: I am just one person away from landing a life-changing opportunity.

This is a mindset that has served me well and helped me to keep relationships going for a long time.

Also realize that, in the 21st century, people move between companies regularly. An opening at their new company could be a great fit for you if you’ve built a relationship with this person.

In addition to this, contract opportunities come up within companies and from what I’ve seen, people are always eager to give those opportunities to folks they know.

So be intentional and talk to people in career paths you want to pursue.

Not only will you learn from them, you could have an opportunity passed on to you simply because you’re in someone’s network.

Interview preparation

Another thing you can control is preparing for interviews.

I know this can be discouraging especially if you’ve been looking for jobs for a while.

But again, you cannot control everything; but here’s something you can.

Before you go into interviews, make sure you’re aware of what this job requires. Don’t be the person that goes to the interview and is not sure what the role truly entails. If you’ve built relationships with people within the company, this would be a great time to ask them what to expect during your interview.

Read the job description again.

Find and follow any employees of the company on LinkedIn.

Look at their social media feeds. What is new with them?

And when you go into the interview, don’t forget to ask the interviewer questions too.

Fortune typically favors the prepared.

Being on a job hunt for months with nothing to show for it is frustrating.

Focusing on what you can control and thorough preparation can help you break that barrier however.

All the best to you!

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