Are PhDs unemployable?

(53 Posts)
LatterdaySaint Sat 22-Dec-12 09:27:17

Some prety good discussions on this forum.

Anyway, I'm a PhD (Engineering, Edinburgh Univ, 1999). Worked in industry for 3 years immediately after graudation when employment prospects were good. Then made redunant, so went back to university as a postdoc. Did a string of postdoc jobs even though I have never had any intention of becoming a lecturer or running my own lab - I just enjoyed the work. Now out of work for the 2nd time in 3 years. Postdocing is becoming increasinly competitive, what with the global depression, so I thought I'd better start looking for jobs outside academia. Problem is that I have had 0 interviews in 6 months. I've read lots of blogs and posts on the internet regarding PhD unemployment and it is becoming clear that employers don't generally like PhD qualified workers. What are your experiences?

I'm seriously considering dropping my PhD from my CV, even though it leaves a big hole. It's really depressing when I apply for low level 'survival' jobs that I can clearly do (such as working as a operative or technician in a lab related to work that I've done at postdoc level), but get a negative response.

I read a recent news article in which Dyson complained that Britain doesn't produce enough engineers and scientists. I thought I'd give his company a try. PhD from Edinburgh and a good, pre-1997 BEng degree from a pre-1992 university, but my application was rejected. So much for his claim.

Do you think the expansion of HE is a giant scam? It seems that people need additional masters degrees if they want to change career - at a cost of several £k of course!

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 28-Dec-12 18:24:31

Sorry Lljkk, didn't mean to depress you. Re. the personal statement box, it sounds like this is really crucial - it's your only chance on a very restrictive online form to try to get across why you would be the ideal person for the job. GrendelsMum is right - from the other end of the process, when doing a paper sift in order to draw up an interview short list, the employer has to be able to show that they've picked the most appropriately qualified people otherwise they leave themself wide open to legal action for unfair discrimination. So when you're filling in an application form you can't think "well, I'm brilliant at 5 out of 6 things mentioned and the 6th I can pick up on the job", because the person doing the paper sift won't see it that way - they'll pick "good at all 6" over "brilliant at 5 but can't do the other" every time.

Regarding retraining, I've had to do the re-training after redundancy thing in the past, it's tough. Part of my decision process did revolve round which options were easier/possible to fund. Good luck with it.

GrendelsMum Fri 28-Dec-12 20:12:26

As Lurcio says, you do risk legal action for unfair discrimination, which is why we take this box ticking seriously, in addition to actually wanting someone who can do the job that needs doing. You may think that it's unlikely, but a close family member was personally accused of discrimination in recruiting for an academic post, and it was that clear record of how the process was gone through which allowed her to demonstrate that no discrimination had taken place.

alanyoung Thu 17-Jan-13 11:28:53

Mine's a Pizza Hut Delivery! I've found that very useful!

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