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Why does name of the university matter so much in job search

  1. Dec 7, 2014 #1
    I am a bit frustrated with my current job search and I was wondering if people at PF could give some guidance. I am a doctoral graduate in Electrical Engineering from a low ranked university (~ 180 US News overall ranking). Although a EE doctorate most of my work was in materials science/nanotechnology. My dissertation was on nanoscale morphology of organic photovoltaic materials and its effect on solar cells performance. During my PhD I learnt a plethora of deposition and characterization techniques. I have strong expertise in AFM, SEM, Raman, XRD, PVD, nanofabrication, device physics etc. I have published more than 25 journal papers as a first or co author. Being a small university we do not have any semiconductor companies that come for campus recruitment on campus. I have good communication and interpersonal skills. I have a feeling that since we do not have a strong alumni and not known university , my online job applications receive no response. Or is the online job application a sham? Is linkedin a better way to connect ? Are industries looking for other skills that a material scientist should have like CVD, ALD etc? Any tips are helpful.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 8, 2014 #2
    (1) The name MIGHT be important if your goal is research. Then the cachet of having the name of a prestigious university seems to be important. And double IMHO: it seems to be important to over-educated under-experienced chowderheads who don't know any better and have no other criteria by which to judge. Otherwise...accomplishments & personality define "value" in a candidate.
    (2) Online submissions: I hate this method and avoid it at all costs. Younger people think this is all there is, and it isn't. Two real-life examples to illustrate my point.

    (A) While in a period of unemployment, I was free-lancing and teaching Engineering as an Adjunct. I arranged a plant tour for my students. While on tour, I was schmoozing the Engineering Manager, trying to inquire about possible job openings. He described his recruitment method thus: (a) post opening to Monster, (b) receive 1000's of electronic resumes, (c) resumes filtered by Human Resources Department to approximately 200 candidates, (d) He opens each electronic MSWord resume document and hits the F7 Spellcheck key, (e) if ANY "misspelling" pops up he immediately deletes the resume. Idiot. I asked him if he knew that MSWord Spellcheck dictionary usually flags common engineering terms as misspellings. He just stared.

    (B) While at Company X, I hosted a couple of engineers from Company Y who wanted to informally evaluate production equipment I had. A couple years later, I was job hunting. I saw Company Y had an opening that looked like a good fit. I applied using their online submission form. No response. Job pops back up 3 weeks later, submit again. Within a couple hours I got a call from the 2 engineers. They told me they were so happy that I submitted again. Their online system garbled my resume. I was the perfect candidate, they remembered me, and had no way to contact me.

    And for good measure, I've had a Recruiter completely restructure my electronic resume before. I did not discover this until I arrived for the interview and saw a resume that was not mine. Sleaze-bag.

    My preferred method is to investigate, make the phone calls, stalk, do whatever to discern the name of the decision maker. Then put a hard-copy resume in front of that person somehow, someway. All of the online submission stuff is very convenient for the end-user, but terrible for the job-seeker and is fraught with problems.
  4. Dec 9, 2014 #3
    You should create a linkedin account regardless as you never know and it doesn't take much time, plus it's nice to have a professional looking page that you control show up first on google, before any facebook business from 5 years ago you forgot to hide, but that will not change the fact that online stuff works with programs that look for buzzwords and like tyqer says, they don't always work out for people.
    Recruiters who use linkedin use an advanced search function and in the end it boils down to buzzwords, yet again.

    The university name matters somewhat, but mostly it matters because of exactly what you said: companies have recruiting agreements with the most known ones and will know what to expect from people coming from those universities they're used to work with. I guess you could make up for it by networking with people from these companies, but it doesn't sound easy considering the number of companies and the quantity of open positions for such levels of specialization...
  5. Dec 9, 2014 #4


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    In my experience people are rarely hired based on online applications alone. Usually the short-listed candidates have contacted those in charge of hiring in some way - delivered a resume in person, worked through an internship, spoken on the telephone, etc. That's not always the case, but when you do nothing more than submit an electronic application, there's no way to know if you're really serious about the position, or if you just clicked on "apply" on a whim.
  6. Dec 10, 2014 #5


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    How do you have 25 papers at this point in your career?
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