Resources for PhDs seeking jobs outside of academia

In between bouts of sorting, de-cluttering, and apartment hunting, I’ve also been working on my job search. Here’s some helpful links I’ve found during my search.

How to avoid hassle during an out-of-state job search.

I might sign up for freelance editing work on  things like oDesk or eLance (any tips, readers?).  I don’t want to freelance forever, probably, but a little cash here and there might help.  Mostly I’m looking for an office job.

PhDs at Work looks interesting, but I haven’t spent a lot of time on there.  Does anyone want to investigate and report back in the comments?

Miriam Posner discusses what alt-ac (alternative-academic) jobs can and can’t provide.

There is a LinkedIn group called PhD Careers Outside of Academia, which is where I found this huge collection of links and articles for scientists transitioning to industry.  (I’ve also been checking out Ask A Manager but mostly for giggles.)


Do you have any recommendations for resources for PhDs seeking jobs outside of academia?  Specifically for social scientists or scientists who have some data skills and good writing skills, but only tiny amounts of programming skills, and nothing in biotech/pharma?  Thanks!

8 Responses to “Resources for PhDs seeking jobs outside of academia”

  1. Linda Says:

    I’m not a former academic, but I work for one of the big business consulting/accounting/tax firms and I know we hire PhDs. I never thought I’d like working in a “corporate” setting, but the work has the same hassles as a my old non-profit days (mostly having to do with people and “politics”), with much better compensation and perks. These days, “analytics” are HOT and all the consulting firms are building up their services and competencies in it. A social scientist that has experience working with data and data modeling can show a lot of value in this area.

  2. Cloud Says:

    A friend recommended this site to me when I was doing research for my book:
    I have not checked it out extensively, though.

    I know a few people who transitioned from computational chemist to what is now called a “data scientist” in Silicon Valley. As far as I can tell, that job primarily requires knowing stats and knowing how to do some programming.If you haven’t already considered it, it might be worth a look. It seems to be a hot job right now. I would think a social science background would be a plus there, since they’re usually doing stats on how tweaks to a website change results. Of course, you’d have to be careful to end up at a place with ethics, given the recent high profile “WTF???” moments from Facebook and OK Cupid.

    • Cloud Says:

      This comment suffered from being made before I had any caffeine this morning. What I meant to say about the data scientist jobs and programming is that they require some programming, but are the sort of job where I think relevant domain knowledge can counter-balance weak programming skills. I.e., if I were hiring for this sort of job, I’d take a social scientist who really understands the limits of stats and ethics of social experiments but has so-so programming skills over a kickass programmer. As opposed to jobs developing software other people use, for which I want a kickass programmer more than any domain knowledge (assuming I get an analyst/product manager with domain knowledge).

      That was probably more than you wanted to know!

  3. plantingourpennies Says:

    Where do doctoral candidates looking to leave academia look? Have you spoken with a head hunter yet?
    With election season starting the 2 year ramp up to presidential, this might be a time when polling analysts are in higher demand and I know at least on sociology PhD who has gone that track working for a research firm that does survey and market analysis for a variety of corporate and political purposes.
    Or perhaps you should just start writing for =)

  4. Funny about Money Says:

    The Chronicle used to have a whole section of job ads for escaping academics. Seems to me there was a link to some group or site for academics looking for real-world jobs, too. Might want to check into that.

    For editorial work, I would NOT go to one of those online job-boardsy things. People there work for peanuts. With a Ph.D., you should get no less than $60/hour from business clients and $45/hour from academics and non-profits. That sixty bucks/hour is low, BTW. Ninety to $120 is more like it.

    Instead, check out the Council of Science Editors, the Society for Technical Communication, and the Society for Scholarly Publishing. Also, you might find this article of interest:

    I get most of my business by word of mouth, through academic connections, and by networking in business groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, organizations for local businesses, and a spinoff from BNI. There’s a large networking organization for women that has a lot of very active local chapters; I’ve never been into gender-oriented networking, myself, but some find it useful. But if you set up your business as an S-corp or even as a sole proprietorship, you can register yourself with local, state, and federal agencies as a woman-owned business. And if you’re willing to put up with the hassle, by the way, contracting to government agencies can be a good way to go.

    Also, approach the managing editors of the first- and second-tier journals in your discipline (assuming you’re not peer-reviewing for them) and suggest that you could help ESL authors with a little editing…for a fee. Look for the journals that will attract mid-career scholars who can afford you and upward-bound junior scholars who are desperate enough for p&t to pay even if they can’t afford you. ;-)

  5. Debbie M Says:

    A friend of mine teaches statistics to employees of companies that make electronic stuff–they test whether the thingies in the current batch are close enough to spec to accept. This seemed fun when she was working for Dell. It was even sort of fun after they laid her off and hired her back on as a contractor in several locations. Now that she has a job that keeps sending her to The Philippines, China, and other places that don’t allow me to complain about public restrooms to her, it’s less fun. She travels at least 50%, maybe 75%. Sometimes with no warning they make her leave for a trip directly from her vacation. They did, finally, start letting her fly business class once some of them had to fly internationally in coach.

  6. Ask the grumpies: Do I stay or do I go now, and if I go… then what? | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] felt that way if I’d left pre-tenure.  I also have financial luxury to faff about until I figure out a new career.  And I might hate my next job, too!  (But at least it will PAY […]

  7. Ask the Grumpies: Questions about leaving academia | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] person wondering if ze should stay or go.  With links!  This post has resources for people leaving academia (see comments for more […]

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