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Adam S. Lerner
What does a non-academic job search look like for a rhet/comp PhD student? I put compiled some numbers to illustrate my experience over the last 3 months.
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Adam S. Lerner 23 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
Below are all of the unique job titles I applied to. Figuring out how PhD experience translated into private-sector job titles takes some experimenting. I had the most luck with proposal writing and technical writing positions.
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Adam S. Lerner 23 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
The most important tool I used? Google job alerts. Search for "jobs" in google and a box with a blue header should appear. Click "100+ more jobs" at the bottom of this box, and you'll get to the job search area.
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Adam S. Lerner 23 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
Adjust the options to your preferences, then click "Turn on email alerts for this search" in the bottom left of your screen. It casts a wide net across multiple job boards. This was invaluable to getting the jump on jobs quickly.
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Adam S. Lerner 23 Apr 18
Replying to @lourdesfndz
It did! I framed my research experience as project management experience. Many employers were impressed by juggling 3+ projects at once and meeting tight deadlines.
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Adam S. Lerner 23 Apr 18
Replying to @lourdesfndz
Absolutely. The extensive writing and editing experience alone was vital to getting interviews. Same thing with teaching experience.
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Adam S. Lerner 24 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
What about LinkedIn? My job search was restricted to one city, where I had few contacts and no professional network. I used LinkedIn to apply to jobs, but its value was limited.
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Adam S. Lerner 24 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
What about networking? I went to multiple conferences and events in my area. While they were fun and I met cool people, no job prospects emerged from these events.
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Adam S. Lerner 24 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
So what helped? Talking to old colleagues and tapping my academic network was key. I had awesome conversations with 3-4 former academics. It boosted my confidence, and one of them tapped me for freelance work, which was key.
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Adam S. Lerner 24 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
What else helped? Creating an online portfolio. I bought a domain and hosting, booted up WordPress, and showcased my work there. I put my portfolio URL on my resume, and then used Google Analytics to track visitors.
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Adam S. Lerner 24 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
I also posted up a generic resume on Monster, and at peak hiring season, recruiters were contacting me regularly every other day or so. Nothing there panned out, but it did make me feel like I was on the right track.
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Adam S. Lerner 24 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
Making the shift to non-academic jobs is tricky. It took a lot of patience, and there were many days I felt totally lost. Academia has a pretty clear career path. The uncertainty of leaving that path was stressful.
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Adam S. Lerner 24 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
I tried to take it one day at a time. I set a goal to apply to 3 jobs a day, minimum. Sometimes I had to take a break and work on other things, but even then, at night I would scour job boards and save positions so I could apply to them the next day.
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Adam S. Lerner 24 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
By the end, I had two very good offers on the table and a third prospect in the works. All that came after a mountain of rejection, tinkering, and frustration.
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Adam S. Lerner 24 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
If you are or know a rhet/comp, technical writing, or communications grad student trying to make the jump to non-academic careers, let me know! I want to pay forward the help and encouragement I received.
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Adam S. Lerner 24 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
For those curious about how I tracked everything, below is a portion of my spreadsheet. Greyed-out entries are rejections. Lots of early rejections! Tracking my progress like this was a good motivator and kept me organized.
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Erica M. Stone 24 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
This is so informative and strangely encouraging in its own right. I really appreciate you sharing your process.
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Wesley Raabe 25 Apr 18
Replying to @as_lerner
As a former tech writer who became an academic, I wonder if you considered not listing PhD on your resume. When a tech writer, I was advised that PhD had lots of potential to scare hiring managers.
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