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Any success when leaving PhD off resume?

by nickyrtr
Tags: leaving, resume, success
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ParticleGrl
#37
Mar12-12, 03:28 PM
P: 685
Interesting, which of these resumes finally got you an interview and a job, or did that happen through some other avenue?
I've had interviews in probably a dozen different fields. Programming, finance and insurance interviews went best, engineering went worst, in general. In the end though, I got a job because I was bartending at a tourist resort, and on a slow day was chatting with a customer who turned out to be in charge of a small modeling group at a health insurance company. He gave me his card, I called the next day, and had a job offer by the end of that week.

Waiting tables or bartending has crossed my mind. I make enough to get by adjunct teaching at community colleges, and have a gainfully employed spouse, but I really hate being an unequal contributor to the household.
When I was adjuncting, it was about 2-3k per 4 credit class. If you can find a high-end restaurant with good volume, you can make 50k+ a year waiting tables. Its not a long term solution, but as a stop-gap measure its not bad.
twofish-quant
#38
Mar12-12, 09:28 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by Locrian View Post
2) Do not say anything negative about your past education, jobs etc. Nothing. You loved your work and think highly of your education and educators. Appearing even slightly jaded in an interview is a near guarantee fail. I know when we hire we look for it carefully.
There are also some "code words" to use in interviews for "I hate my former boss." One useful expression, is "It was a truly educational experience which I value." and "I prefer to talk about the future rather than the past." What ever you say, say it with a smile, and figuring out how to say something positive with a smile is part of the interview process.

One way of thinking about this is that "corporate-speak" is just a different language, and there is a *reason* for this language. The reason for this is that if you go negative, it's easy to get everyone depressed so that nothing gets done, so part of the art of mastering "corporate-speak" is to say something negative without sounding negative. Also the work-place is a place with lots of intense emotions, and sometimes you have two people that smile at each other and essentially say to each other "I hate your guts", and it's important to be able to do this without getting into a fist fight.

There are code words for "he is a great guy" and "he is a jerk." If you say "what do you think about person A" and someone replies by not talking about A, that tells you something. If you are close to someone, they will drop the corporate-language, but you aren't close to the person on the other side of the table.

There's also plausible deniability. If you are trying to hint that you hate A, and it later turns out that you will get into trouble for hating A, then you can say that it was all a miscommunication, and you never said that you hated A. Then again, maybe you *don't* really hate A, and it really was a miscommunication. This can be important when A is the CEO of your company.

If I senior manager asks you want you really think about a situation. Maybe they are sincere that really want to know that they are being an idiot. Maybe they don't. How to deal with that situation can be really challenging, so you can start "hinting", and then based on the response figure out what to say next.

If this looks obscure and baroque, it is, and part of the purpose of corporate-speak is to have sensitive conversations without outsiders having a clue what people are talking about.

Sort of like academic papers.

And here’s the kicker: it might turn out to be true.
And "I'm excited about new opportunities" is sometimes a way of saying "I hate my old job, and I'm desperate to look for anything different."

Part of the reason I like my job is that I'm fascinated by human communications and I like figuring things out. The same bit of my brain that gets excited when you give me an set of greek letters and symbols and is trying to figure out what that means, is also the same bit of my brain that gets used when you get a memo from the head office, and you are trying to figure out what they are *really* telling you.

I also like puzzles. Trying to figure how to say what I want to say with a smile is sometimes quite challenging. Trying to figure how to say something without going insane is also quite challenging.
twofish-quant
#39
Mar12-12, 09:41 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by nickyrtr View Post
The problem is that I just don't get interviews, period, after sending out hundreds of resumes.
Where are you sending resumes to?

I've found that sending resumes to HR is a waste of time. It goes into a big black hole that no one every sees. The places that I've found to be useful is sending resumes to HH's. You can get a list of recruiting companies with www.dice.com and www.efinancialcareers.com, www.phds.org focusing on jobs in "Ph.D-friendly" cities (NYC, Silicon Valley, Austin). Talk to Dominic Connor on www.wilmott.com

Find alumni. One common misconception is that having a friend in a company will help you to pull strings. That's not true, but having a friend in a company will let you know the secret e-mail address that resumes need to go to to get read. You can also politely ask people that are posting on chat groups what those e-mail addresses are.

One other thing that kills Ph.D. resumes is work status information. If you are a US citizen or permanent residency, that information absolutely must be on the resume or else it is dead.

This never happened before I had a PhD, though of course I am also a few years older, a few years out of the job market and in a vastly worse economy.
1) You are not older, you are more experienced
2) You weren't outside of the job market, you were gainfully employed as a research assistant.
nickyrtr
#40
Mar13-12, 05:05 AM
P: 89
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
Where are you sending resumes to?
I send my resume along with online job applications, and a cover letter when possible, in response to advertisements found via job search sites like dice, indeed, craig's list or usajobs.gov, or by looking up specific employers and going to their jobs page.

One other thing that kills Ph.D. resumes is work status information. If you are a US citizen or permanent residency, that information absolutely must be on the resume or else it is dead.
Good idea, I'll make sure that's in order.
twofish-quant
#41
Mar13-12, 10:03 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by nickyrtr View Post
I send my resume along with online job applications, and a cover letter when possible, in response to advertisements found via job search sites like dice, indeed, craig's list or usajobs.gov, or by looking up specific employers and going to their jobs page.
One dirty secret is that the resumes that get submitted through a jobs page for most companies get sent into a black hole. The trouble is that the company gets spammed, and no one has any incentive to go through the resumes. The other thing is that companies web pages lie. Even when a company is firing everyone, they won't update the careers web page (since they likely just fired the people in charge of keeping the web pages updated).

Online job applications also go nowhere. If you go through a web frontend, that means that someone is trying to automate the process, which means that the people that would read your resume have either been fired or are worried enough about their jobs so they don't care about you.

The ways of getting a resume into the system

* networking through friends and alumni or anyone else you might randomly meet
* campus recruiting
* head hunters

The problem with HR, is that they don't care about you or your resume. If you submit a resume and nothing happens, no one is going to get into any trouble, so no one cares. Head hunters get a commission based on hires, so they care.
SophusLies
#42
Mar13-12, 10:08 PM
P: 222
This thread just seems so strange to me. How on earth can someone possibly justify having a 5-6 or even 7 year gap with no job or no school? That's an extremely large gap. I can see a year maybe 2 but that long has to throw up a red flag to someone.
ParticleGrl
#43
Mar13-12, 10:17 PM
P: 685
This thread just seems so strange to me. How on earth can someone possibly justify having a 5-6 or even 7 year gap with no job or no school? That's an extremely large gap. I can see a year maybe 2 but that long has to throw up a red flag to someone.
You leave your employment as "researcher for University X", with descriptions of relevant work you did. You leave OFF the phd in your education section (or just push the education section to a later page where its less likely to be noticed). No gap in employment, and no phd on the resume.
SophusLies
#44
Mar13-12, 10:19 PM
P: 222
Quote Quote by ParticleGrl View Post
You leave your employment as "researcher for University X", with descriptions of relevant work you did. You leave OFF the phd in your education section. No gap in employment, and no phd on the resume.
Ahh, I see. Slick trick.
nickyrtr
#45
Mar13-12, 10:54 PM
P: 89
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
One dirty secret is that the resumes that get submitted through a jobs page for most companies get sent into a black hole.
You could be right; that is certainly how it seems lately. It wasn't always that way ... my two last jobs before grad school were both obtained via online applications, and I got a third job offer the same way. This was during the period from 2001-2005 or so.

As you said, the web-based job application process is probably broken now because of resume spam, which must have significantly increased since that time.

Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
The ways of getting a resume into the system

* networking through friends and alumni or anyone else you might randomly meet
* campus recruiting
* head hunters
Good suggestion, I'll take a second look for head hunters. I never heard of any PhD students at my grad school getting assistance from campus recruiting, but that's worth a bit of investigation too. As for friends and other random contacts, I guess that's up to fate
twofish-quant
#46
Mar13-12, 11:24 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by nickyrtr View Post
I never heard of any PhD students at my grad school getting assistance from campus recruiting, but that's worth a bit of investigation too.
At UT Austin, the McCombs school has some excellent career services that are totally off limits for natural science students. The excuse was that MBA students had to pay an extra fee, but when asked for a quote for how much I'd have to pay in order to get access, I got blank looks.

From a policy stand point, fixing campus recruiting systems is one big thing that schools could do.

As for friends and other random contacts, I guess that's up to fate
Yes and no. There is a statistical issue in that the odds of getting a lead in a particular situation is random and quite low, but if you contact a ton of people, then the chance of getting any hit goes up and the process becomes a lot less stochastic.

One thing I did to keep myself busy was to try to mathematically model the job market, and there is all sorts of interesting effects. Your probability of getting a job is P(job|contact)*N(contacts), and since P is low, one tries to crank up the number of N.

The other thing is why you want a contact. Most people have the mistaken notion that contacts are useful because they pull strings or try to sell you in the company. This isn't why they are useful. Contacts are useful because they get your resume into the system by telling you who to send your resume to, and getting feedback as to whether that resume is being processed, so you don't need close contacts. Some random person that you've met at a conference with a business card is good enough. Also it's important to get people at the right level. If I have the business card of a CEO of a major Fortune 500 corporation, that is totally useless to me, because he won't be able to help me get a job.

Getting people to *talk* to you is an incredibly difficult challenge, so if you know someone well enough so that they'll at least reply to your e-mail, you are already doing great.
nickyrtr
#47
Mar14-12, 05:53 AM
P: 89
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
One thing I did to keep myself busy was to try to mathematically model the job market, and there is all sorts of interesting effects. Your probability of getting a job is P(job|contact)*N(contacts), and since P is low, one tries to crank up the number of N.
P(job|contact) is also very nonuniform, though. You don't just want lots of contacts, you want the right ones, and ironically contacts that you make for the explicit purpose of getting a job may not have the best probability.

In my opinion, part of the problem is that the job market isn't much of a market, in the modern sense; it is woefully lacking in transparency and efficiency. Compare the process of selling a house to selling your work (i.e., applying for jobs). Before listing the house, I can check the quantity and prices of comparable properties in the area, and if it doesn't sell I can drop the price to attract more buyers.

In contrast, I can't view a list of the people competing with me for jobs in my area and the salaries they demand. Dropping my price isn't really an option either. Offering to work for less would make employers think something is wrong with you. Also, a large volume of jobs are traded "off the books" through informal networks of personal contacts.
twofish-quant
#48
Mar14-12, 06:27 AM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by nickyrtr View Post
You don't just want lots of contacts, you want the right ones, and ironically contacts that you make for the explicit purpose of getting a job may not have the best probability.
I've found that you do want lots of contacts because 99% of contacts won't be useful to you and there is no way in advance to know what the 1% of useful contacts are. But that's no different from selling custom software. One thing that was useful in looking for work is to see how telemarketers work. When a telemarketer calls someone there is an extremely, extremely high probability that they won't make a sale, so they end up going through a ton of leads to make any sales.

In my opinion, part of the problem is that the job market isn't much of a market, in the modern sense; it is woefully lacking in transparency and efficiency.
I don't think that the job market is that much worse than most other markets.

Before listing the house, I can check the quantity and prices of comparable properties in the area, and if it doesn't sell I can drop the price to attract more buyers.
Real estate is a bad example. There are a lot of games involved in listing houses, and there are a huge number of inefficiencies in the system that aren't obvious. Also real estate markets are notorious for being non-clearing markets. Once a market has slowed it's hard to sell a house at any price.

One cute trick is to provide the "illusion" of transparency and efficiency. Real estate is notorious for this. So are cars.

In contrast, I can't view a list of the people competing with me for jobs in my area and the salaries they demand.
www.Glassdoor.com is useful for this. Also *you* can't see this information, but any halfway competent HR department or HH will have this information at their fingertips. They will not tell you because their job is to use any information asymmetry they have against you.

One job tip. Never quote a salary. Make the company quote a salary, and then say yes or no.

Dropping my price isn't really an option either. Offering to work for less would make employers think something is wrong with you.
One problem is that if your first reaction to not getting sales is to lower your price, this is going to be bad if you are selling the products of the employer.

Also, a large volume of jobs are traded "off the books" through informal networks of personal contacts.
There is no "on the book."

Practically all jobs that I know of in programming are traded through informal networks of personal contacts. Some of these personal contacts aren't necessarily "social" contacts, but companies tend to have close personal relationships with their recruiters, and the recruiters will have relationships with you. Also companies also have lots of social relationships with schools.
nickyrtr
#49
Mar14-12, 12:46 PM
P: 89
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
One job tip. Never quote a salary. Make the company quote a salary, and then say yes or no.
Absolutely, but if you are at the point where you're being offered a salary, you already have the job.

Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
One problem is that if your first reaction to not getting sales is to lower your price, this is going to be bad if you are selling the products of the employer.
Depends what the product is, but my first reaction is not to lower price but to improve the product. In the job market, that means acquiring education and experience that better fit employer demand. Experience is a bit of a catch-22, since you mostly get that from already having a job, though I suppose an unpaid internship is an option. As for education, I'm actually pondering a BS or MS in some sort of engineering; it's a bit weird to go back for that after already finishing a physics PhD, but who knows it might help.

A second option is to repackage the product, since a purchasing decision is often based more on the package than the substance of what's inside. That's the general thrust of de-emphasizing or even omitting the PhD from my resume. I admit that I am bad at these kinds of marketing games and find them distasteful, which is likely a big reason I don't have a job yet.

Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
Practically all jobs that I know of in programming are traded through informal networks of personal contacts. Some of these personal contacts aren't necessarily "social" contacts, but companies tend to have close personal relationships with their recruiters, and the recruiters will have relationships with you. Also companies also have lots of social relationships with schools.
My experience was very different, though not recently. Over the years I was hired for many good programming jobs by going in through the "front door" so to speak, i.e. responding to a help wanted advertisement. Perhaps times have changed.
twofish-quant
#50
Mar14-12, 10:11 PM
P: 6,863
Quote Quote by nickyrtr View Post
Depends what the product is, but my first reaction is not to lower price but to improve the product.
One other gotcha is that while there are programming jobs in which the employer cares about price, those get shipped off to India. An entry level programmer in Mumbai will cost the company one fifth what a programmer in the US will cost, and jobs which are price sensitive are just not going to be done in the United States.

In the job market, that means acquiring education and experience that better fit employer demand.
That's also tricky, because you can hit the "overqualified" landmine. Also sometimes
the employer really doesn't want someone that is "too smart." I've been in situations where
I figured out that in order to survive I had to "act stupid" which I was able to do for a few months while I was looking for another job. I've also had some "Anakin Skywalker" moments in which it was clear that the person I was talking with was trying to turn me into Darth Vader.

Something to remember is that there is some inherent tension in the employer/employee relationship. What the employer wants (someone that works for free and makes the company a ton of money which the employer keeps) is fundamentally at odds with what the employee wants.

There are also tensions between the interviewer and the company. One reason supervisors hate to lower salaries is that if the people you supervise get their paychecks cut, guess what's going to happen to your paycheck.

Experience is a bit of a catch-22, since you mostly get that from already having a job, though I suppose an unpaid internship is an option.
It's a bad option. If they don't have enough money now to give you even a nominal salary, then the odds are that you aren't going to be getting any money in the future, and if they can get people to do work for free, that's going to turn into something more permanent.

A second option is to repackage the product, since a purchasing decision is often based more on the package than the substance of what's inside.
In business, the packaging is part of the substance. There are some very interesting information, sociology, psychology, and neuroscience issues here. A lot of the issue with marketing is how you can very quickly and efficiently provide relevant information to the buyer in order to provoke an emotional response.

For example, I can *say* that I know radiation hydrodynamics, but how do I *prove* that. If I just write "I know radiation hydrodynamics" then anyone can do that. You can do challenge-response, but that's hard to set up. So what do I say on a resume that proves that I can do radiation hydrodynamics?

That's the general thrust of de-emphasizing or even omitting the PhD from my resume. I admit that I am bad at these kinds of marketing games and find them distasteful, which is likely a big reason I don't have a job yet.
Like everything else it comes with practice and watching other people. One reason I've had a lot of appreciation about marketing comes from watching salesmen in action. The other thing that I've found is that marketing is socially essential. Vacuum cleaners and software doesn't sell itself, and you have to someone involves in selling the product. In one of my old companies, I had a CEO that pushed the point "Everyone is in sales."

The other thing is that marketing is a two way conversation. One thing that I learned from watching salesmen in action is how *quiet* they were. When you had a situation in which you were with a client, they'd shut up and listen. If the customer doesn't like your product, then you just sit down, have them vent, and then figure out to do.
nickyrtr
#51
Mar15-12, 07:24 AM
P: 89
[unpaid internship is] a bad option. If they don't have enough money now to give you even a nominal salary, then the odds are that you aren't going to be getting any money in the future, and if they can get people to do work for free, that's going to turn into something more permanent.
The idea is to intern at one place, then use that experience to apply for a paying job in the same field at another place. I don't know if it really works though.
ThinkToday
#52
Mar16-12, 09:14 AM
P: 172
Quote Quote by nickyrtr View Post
While searching for a job, a number of people have suggested that I leave the PhD off my resume when applying for positions that don't require it. I haven't tried that yet, but am considering it. The alleged benefit is that fewer employers will be scared off by the "overqualified" PhD label. The down side is, it's hard to explain what I did for a few years in graduate school without mentioning the PhD, and of course the emotional downer of hiding an achievement I'm proud of.

Has anyone tried leaving the PhD off their resume and had successful results? I'm wondering if the benefits are real, or just an urban legend.
Failure to be completely truthful and accurate on your resume is a termination offense at EVERY place I've ever worked. Rather than hide or deminish the PhD, pump up the things you'd like to do with a company. If not directly related to the work at hand, perhaps, push the budget, teamwork, supervisory, time management, etc. aspects (value) of the PhD experience. IMO, all those things would be important for jobs that carry responsibility.
Choppy
#53
Mar16-12, 02:15 PM
Sci Advisor
P: 2,726
Quote Quote by ThinkToday View Post
Failure to be completely truthful and accurate on your resume is a termination offense at EVERY place I've ever worked.
To be fair, the thread is talking about omission of potentially irrelevant information and not direct misrepresentation.

I've obtained the rank of shodan (black belt) in Kodokan Judo. This is an accomplishment that took many years of training and dedication. I don't generally include this on my CV because it's not relevant to my profession, it's not something that employers generally look for in my field, and it would take up extra space that I use to convey far more relevant information.

My employer would not have grounds to terminate me for this.

On the other hand, misrepresentation (such as clamining that I have a certification when I do not) or omission of relevant information (such as deliberatly hiding a criminal history) is grounds for termination.
feathermoon
#54
Mar17-12, 04:11 AM
P: 60
Quote Quote by twofish-quant View Post
Geography is a pain, but it turned out that what worked for me was to work in NYC Monday to Friday and then fly to Texas on the weekends. The scary thing was that lots of people were doing that.
Seriously!?!


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