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!

ItsaTIARA Sat 22-Dec-12 09:39:18

If your mathematical modelling is any good you could try "rocket scientist" jobs in the City - they're more than happy to employ PhDs.

notcitrus Sat 22-Dec-12 10:26:01

You need to show how the PhD has taught you transferable skills. Also why are you applying for 'low' level jobs like lab tech? They probably do see you as overqualified, whereas jobs such as middle management are more likely to rate skills of people and budget and time management gained from lab work.

Remember with job apps it's not so much showing how wonderful you are, but what you can do that they need. Good luck!

nickymanchester Sat 22-Dec-12 10:41:45

notcitrus Remember with job apps it's not so much showing how wonderful you are, but what you can do that they need.

This is SO important. You need to show how your skills/knowledge/experience make you the best round peg for the round hole.

You need to tailor what you say in your cv to the job that you're applying for.

If it is a technical role where your technical knowledge will be important then emphasise that. If it isn't a technical role, then they probably won't be bothered that you have a PhD or not - unless you would be seriously over qualified for the role you're applying for.

I would suggest setting up at least three or four different versions of your cv targeted at the different types of role that you are applying for. Each one emphasising the experience/skills you have that are relevant to that type of role. It is then relatively quick to tweak any one of these versions for a particular application that you are making to a particular employer.

But remember, read the job description/role profile carefully and make sure that your cv clearly demonstrates that you meet all the requirements.

LatterdaySaint Sat 22-Dec-12 11:31:13

I'm begging to think that having a PhD is as bad as having a paedo conviction when it comes to searching for jobs in the private sector.

LatterdaySaint Sat 22-Dec-12 11:32:05

Beginning...

LatterdaySaint Sat 22-Dec-12 11:35:21

You are right about tailoring one's CV to reflect the job spec. Recently been trying that, but it seems some employers still don't like PhDs.

PhD = too expensive, likely to jump ship for a better job, possibly challenge boss for his job etc.

lljkk Sat 22-Dec-12 11:52:46

The job market is just tough. I have a PhD in techie subject too, lots of employment history & I can't find a job (years off to raise a family & inability to work full time doesn't help). I believe that the folk who get the jobs I'm applying for are better qualified, though, have more relevant and recent work experience & the specific up-to-date necessary qualifications. By fluke chance I chatted with a lady who got a job I nearly applied for: she has all the qualifications & ample work experience; just as well I didn't waste my time. Yet she was only doing supply before that, was all she could find, too. It's very likely I'll have to look at retraining at a cost of hundreds or thousands. Real upfront cost to me, too, not just a loan that might never need to be paid off.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 22-Dec-12 12:08:28

DH is a director of an engineering company and employs people with PhDs. It's not something he looks for in an engineer, but it doesn't put him off. He's not even that bothered about relevant experience really. He wants a really sound technical understanding that can be applied to lots of different projects. Are you failing to sell yourself?

TheFallenMadonna Sat 22-Dec-12 12:09:47

Are you chartered?

amillionyears Sat 22-Dec-12 12:14:08

What job do you really really want to do
Are you passionate about it
Do you have the qualifications for it

In short are you focused on the job or sector you are applying to do?

BikeRunSki Sat 22-Dec-12 12:52:37

What type of engineering?
Have you considered public sector ? I have a PhD in Civil Eng (Newcastle, 2000) and have since worked for global consultants, mainly on public scheme, then turned gamekeeper and joined the Environment Agency 8 years ago.

I'd say that in engineering not being chartered is a big deal after about 30, far more of a negative than having a PhD.

LaCiccolina Sat 22-Dec-12 13:30:12

Are u sure that the issue is the qualification? Have you thought about obtaining some cv advice? I'm wondering if for private work ur cv doesn't sound right. Not intentional, obviously u are very intelligent but does it sell u? Are u using the buzz words to make ur skills a natural fit?

I'm also wondering why u are going for low level positions. It sounds off. U should be aiming above that. The best people for advice could be firms that specialise in returning redundancy people to work. This is because they specialise in people who have worked in x location for 5plus years and need to update for y position.

Try reposting in going back to work or employment issues. There are hr professionals there that could critique ur details for the positive.

Good luck. It's tough out there presently.

LaVolcan Sat 22-Dec-12 13:37:32

Network Rail were looking for engineers for their electrification projects, and were willing to train up engineers from disciplines other than electrical engineering, so you could try them.

LatterdaySaint Sat 22-Dec-12 14:56:48

My BEng is in electrical and electronic engineering and my PhD is in semiconductor technology. Seemed like a great career choice in the early 1990s.

I probably do need to get a professional to comment on my CV. Will do that after Christmas. I've seen the Network Rail website - will look at that again as well.

I'm not chartered. I did start half-heartedly working toward chartered status when I worked in industry, but I lost interest and stopped paying my subscription fees when I couldn't see any benefit. The large global company that I worked for at the time (STMicroelectronics) couldn't care less if I had a Ceng or not. I found that very few job advertisements require CEng status - certainly not relevant in academia.

I also have a PPL. Could train to become a CPL or ATPL, but that costs many thousands of GBP more. Besides, pilots are having a hard time finding jobs with airlines right now.

I do have my eyes on the NHS Scientist Training Programme. I expect the process with be fiercely competitive, but I'll give it a try.

Got quite down about not even getting an interview. Thought of using bribes to get a job. Don't know if it will work though. Idea I had this pm was to offer to take my future hiring manager on a 60 minute pleasure flight over the beautiful Gower Peninsula - perhaps even take him and his wife out for dinner as well. Would that even be legal, let alone moral? Suppose it might be seen for what it is: desperation!

lljkk Sat 22-Dec-12 15:09:39

DH has similar maybe same first degree, although no PhD. He was unemployed for a year before present job (which luckily he loves). Unemployed back in 2003 when jobs were supposed to be plentiful.

I wonder if passion is the key; I don't have any myself, either.

Are you a member of IEE? DH had a IEE mentor for a while, helped him with jobhunting.

nickymanchester Sat 22-Dec-12 20:29:14

LatterdaySaint

You are right about tailoring one's CV to reflect the job spec. Recently been trying that

Sorry, I don't mean to come across as getting at you, but this is something that you should have been doing since day one.

I've seen the Network Rail website - will look at that again as well.

OK, so I took a quick look at it and in the first 30 seconds found these comments:-

''you are credible, commercially astute, decisive and articulate.''

They then give a comment from a recent starter:-

”I’m now a distribution and plant engineer in Preston near where I live. I’m responsible for making sure maintenance is delivered on time, preparing next year’s plan, reviewing technical work, proposing new works and dealing with staff issues. It’s demanding – but I enjoy it.”

So, I would suggest that your cv needs to show that you are ''credible, commercially astute, decisive and articulate.''

and that you are used to dealing with a lot of planning, timely delivery of projects and staff issues.

You need to give specific examples in your cv of what you have achieved eg ''The changes in the manufacturing process that I proposed and saw through to implementation resulted in a saving of X million pounds per year''

You do need to demonstrate that your technical abilities are first class, but there are an awful lot of people out there who also have first class technical abilities as well. It's what they say in the job description that is important and how well you show that you match it that will differentiate you from the other candidates.

amillionyears Sat 22-Dec-12 20:52:54

Also research the particular company. Why do you want to work for them.

Waswondering Sat 22-Dec-12 21:00:14

What about the oil industry? Electrical engineers valued in the Aberdeen area, prospects are good and pay is very good. Look at professional hire sections of employers' websites.

Also if you're postdocing do use your careers service - they may have a Careers Advisor specifically for postdocs/staff.

Also have you looked at the www.vitae.ac.uk website for CV advice?

Good luck and sympathies - dh is a PhD and has been through the postdoc treadmill.

Ronaldo Sun 23-Dec-12 13:36:45

This is just my experience,but I have found there is a good deal of inverted snobbery and prejudice against Ph.D candidates outside of university departments and research posts.

I have found that state schools ( I was made redundant from a university a while back) Ph.D's are a mills tone round your neck in getting a job!

I got a post in an independent school where there doesnt seem to be quite so much anti - feeling. Thats probably because independent schools measure their worth and market themselves through their staff lists. The more Ph.D's the better it seems.

Even in the world of work (I have a top maths degree) its a negative if you have a Ph.D

btw, it is illegal to miss off your qualifications. If you wereto get a job as a result and later found out you could find yourself prosecuted for gaining employment fraudulently. Missing qualifications off is considered in law to be the same as adding them on or making them look better than they are.

Its called gaining pecunary advantage by fraudulent representation. Just thought you should know.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 23-Dec-12 13:44:44

Not my experience of state schools. I work in a challenging school, and they are much keener on the title than I. There are teachers with PhDs in the majority of the state school Science departments I'm familiar with. Maths not so much, mind you.

Ephiny Sun 23-Dec-12 13:47:15

I don't think it's a disadvantage as such. But if you're applying for jobs that don't require the PhD, you need to make a convincing case for why you want that particular job, and that you're enthusiastic and committed, as well as emphasising your skills and experience as well as the qualification.

I think often when people complain about being rejected for being 'overqualified', it's more that they see the job as being a bit beneath them, especially as a long-term prospect, and that comes across to the employer.

There are a lot of people with PhDs (in maths/engineering/physics/computing) in City finance type jobs, especially quantitative modelling and technology roles. However there are people now doing postgraduate degrees specifically in quantitative finance and similar, so you would have to show that you have the business knowledge to go along with your technical skills.

Have you asked for feedback on your unsuccessful attempts? (assuming you're getting to the interview stage)

Ephiny Sun 23-Dec-12 13:56:07

Oh, I see you've been struggling to get interviews recently. In that case it's obviously your CV and cover letter you need to look at in the first instance. Definitely do get some advice if you can, yes it's a difficult time for jobseekers, but if you're not even getting an interview for jobs you're qualified for and in areas you're experienced in, it's likely that there's something fixable you're doing wrong.

I'm not sure this obsession with 'employers don't like PhDs' is very helpful for you.

Nor is referring to 'low-level survival jobs'. If you have such a low opinion of the job, how are you going to convince an employer that you really want it? And if you don't really want it, why shouldn't they give it to someone who does? Also, while it might be obvious to you that 'clearly' you can do the job, you still need to spell out why you can do it, and do it better than the other applicants, backed up by evidence.

crazymum53 Sun 23-Dec-12 16:00:06

Yes it is possible to obtain a job with a PhD but you do need to look closely at the type of job you really want to do and also convince employers that you want to move away from academia into industry as this could be a stumbling block!
Have several versions of your CV for technical jobs, management jobs etc. so that your CV is geared to different sectors of the job market.
You could try asking a professional organisation such as AWISE (Association of women in Science and Engineering) provide help and advice for women in this sector as well as networking opportunities.
Are you tied to a particular location? If not have you considered working abroad, you may find a more positive attitude to PhDs in the US or Germany for example.
Finally does the university where you are doing your post-doc or your supervisor have any relevant contact with industry and have you let them know you are considering a move back to industry. This type of networking can be very successful as they may know about jobs coming up in this sector which would suit you! Many of my friends with PhDs found work this way rather than going through advertisements.

i'm afraid this reads a bit like, 'people don't like me because i'm beautiful'.

you have no real reason to think it's due to phd. lots and lots of people have been applying for jobs without even getting an interview - many of whom will have relevant recent work experience (whereas you've been working for uni's) and professional qualifications and still find themselves not getting invited to uni.

if you decide 'it's because they don't like phds' you leave yourself with nothing to work on.

not getting invited to interview i meant. sorry.

Bluestocking Sun 23-Dec-12 16:10:59

The sentence that stands out from your OP to me is "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.". If your application doesn't clearly demonstrate exactly how you meet all the essential (and most of the desirable) criteria in the person spec, you won't be shortlisted. I work in academia and it's amazing how often really well-qualified people just chuck in these lazy, arrogant bog-standard applications where they don't bother to tell us why we should shortlist them. Do you think you might be guilty of doing this?

amillionyears Sun 23-Dec-12 16:18:51

I think you need to go where you think you fit.

I also think that is a bit the problem with the labour market nowadays. It isnt so easy anymore, or cheap, to change careers, without having to do extra studying.

I dont think your heart is in a "low level" lab job, and probably employers know that too.

redskyatnight Sun 23-Dec-12 17:49:51

I have a PhD and haven't had any trouble getting interviews when I was job hunting recently. (in a field where a PhD would not be expected). I've found that interviewers seemed to be looking mainly for very relevant work experience so you should try to emphasise that in whatever job you apply for.

Also, I tended to apply for jobs that were at a slightly lower level than the one I've just left. My gut feeling at the moment is that there are a lot of good people about so if you are going for a job that you are "just" qualified for you may be beaten by better qualified people. But too low and you are not likely to be taken seriously unless you can come up with a good reason why you are focusing on it.

you may want to emphasise that you actually want to move into industry and out of academia, why it's the right time for you to do that and what you bring that is exceptional due to your time out in the academic world.

whatever you do don't assume experience and qualifications speak for themselves these days - sell, sell, sell.

if you think they're going to think you're over qualified or out of touch then address that and reassure them in your application.

SchoolFool Sun 23-Dec-12 19:18:07

A higher qualification is not a barrier but not having relevant experience in your chosen field is a problem after the usual age for a graduate entrant.

If we knew what field interested you, we could advise a bit more specifically.

tricot39 Mon 24-Dec-12 00:02:51

It might be more about your age than the phd. I know that this is illegal but with less jobs about employers will tend to go for more flexible malleable candidates. I have found (to my cost) that older is assumed to be more expensive, therefore interviews are more diffficult to get. The bottom line is that the economy is not as good as it was 10 years ago so employers play it safe.

lljkk Tue 25-Dec-12 17:38:55

Can't win, though, can I? I'd like to state "My previous salary level isn't so relevant because I'm quite happy to take a job with lower pay and less responsibility & prestige than I used to have because that's what would suit me now": but then it sounds like I'm lazy!

rathlin Tue 25-Dec-12 17:51:16

Falling over PhDs where I work (pharmaceutical company) and I believe my job description has PhD as desired so still a demand and this is for non-laboratory office based roles.

My DH has an electrical and electronic engineering PhD and a 1st BEng degree (1st in yr) but found it difficult to get a job in this area so now works in software development.

Xenia Tue 25-Dec-12 21:14:48

Depends on the job. I have done work with the pharma sector mentioned above and PhDs are often used. Law firms and patent attorneys doing very technical scientific work have often fell on requalifying people with PhDs with huge enthusiasm. Thirdly I have done a lot of work with the IT sector and know one company which only recruits programmers with Cambridge PhDs and even then only 1 in 100 is good enough at the programming but at least they do need PhDs.

SO yes there are jobs out there where a PhD helps.

However jobs are hard to find for anyone at present. Just keep trying.

Teachers is another example we have had children's teachers in schools our children were at with PhDs in their subject (private schools and presumably state too)

lljkk Wed 26-Dec-12 15:52:31

Can't get a teacher job in a state school without a PGCE or similar, though. Maybe if it's only for a minority subject, like workshop, music or sport.

Xenia Wed 26-Dec-12 17:04:41

I didn't mean the PhD teachers don't have PGCEs, of course they do but some have a PhD in their subject as well... obviously not the most lucrative use of a PhD of course.

Ronaldo Wed 26-Dec-12 17:14:52

I think jobs are very think on the ground unless you happen to be around London or perhaps Cambridge. Certainly where I live , jobs for highly qualified personnel are no longer appearing. Posts are not being vacated and people are not moving on and so the market is not freeing up for any coming in or transferring.

The reality for most is that they do have to look at "survival" jobs and I find it irksome when some posters cannot see that reality and chide others for admitting they are just "looking for work" - any work. The job centre require this so its no good looking down your nose at those who do what the job centre tells them" Its no use telling them they should apply for posts which are more within their qualification range.... and I dont buy the idea that employers do not want highly qualified personel becuase they see them as likely to move on once trained up because most employers are looking for cheap and chearful short term employees. Clearly some here have never heard of the times when Maggie told us " There are no jobs for life" ( whilst Tebbit told us all to " get on our bikes"!) Well its the same now as then, except maybe worse.

I would suspect being too expensive is a big issue. Ageism is a discrimination and most employes are a bit stupid in that they have not cottoned on to the fact that most older people are more reliable, less likely to have young families ( or females will not be doing child care or pregnancy) and are less likely to be ill ( or have duvet days). Of course, older workers do have a habit of thinking and so I guess that is what puts them off - employers dont want skilled or educated workers they want those who will take instructions without question and try to re invent the wheel , even though we have perfectly good ones rolling around already.

The fact is, thereis no work. Ph.D's are over qualified for most jobs and it may mean finding some plausible excuse to explain aplying for a job for which you are over qualified. Of course a lot of ladies use their babies as that excuse. I used my early retirement and I said I wished to persue other academic interests in my own time.

ViperInTheManger Wed 26-Dec-12 17:15:18

My DH is a senior manager and regularly recruits engineers for projects. He struggles to get good people and is appalled at the standard of some applications (most of them come through agencies). He would be happy to employ a PhD engineer if they were the right person for the job.

Ronaldo Wed 26-Dec-12 17:19:28

It is no longer a requirement for state schools ( acadamies especially) to employ staff who are qualified. Of course unqualified you wiull be cheaper
(and that may just be an inducement to an employer!) if you can show you have the skills and experience.

Independent schools have never required a teacher to be " teacher qualified". They have always asked for graduates.

In a world where so many graduates aretrained to teach anyway, it is not necessarily going to help to not be so qualified though.

You say your degree was pre 1977 - how much pre? Is your degree science based? If its pre 1989 and you have taught at all before that date ( in FE or university) you may be "qualified" anyway. There are some odd rules here.

happilyconfused Wed 26-Dec-12 19:53:30

There seems to be more PhD teachers in science and maths. You do need to have a PGCE or have been through in school training. Our head of physics reckons that within the next few years most chem/physics nuts will have a PhD. Teaching will be a tough job to get into. Good luck in your hunt. What about setting up own design company?

racingheart Thu 27-Dec-12 22:52:11

Sounds like you're aiming way too low. Apply for jobs you think are way above your experience level, that you don't have a cat in hell's chance of getting. Bet you have a higher success rate with them.

Are you interested in a career in academia? It's often assumed that anyone who has studied that long wants to stay in Higher Ed.

LatterdaySaint Fri 28-Dec-12 09:26:11

Good morning.

I've been working on my CV over Christmas, and I think it looks a lot better now. I've emphasised my achievements - my former PhD supervisor recently commented that I didn't talk/brag about my achievements enough when I was a postgrad student. I've also left my publications list off as it probably isn't relevant for non-academic jobs.

I decided to keep my PhD on my CV as I worked hard for it. Don't see why I should hide it. Instead, I mentioned that my PhD led, in part, to a £369k grant to continue investigations into my area of research. That might come across well in industry.

As for gaps in employment, I've dropped months and only have years listed, My current period of unemployment is filled with voluntary activities. As a private pilot, I'm in the process of joining a Volunteer Gliding Squadron as a Civilian Gliding Instructor (under training), so I mentioned that in 2012-present. Will see what happens in 2013.

yes that is it exactly in my opinion latterday - showing how your phd has meant something beyond 'i'm clever'. achieving that funding is great and will look good. don't assume they have imagination - say that having done a phd means you are excellent at self motivation, research, working at a high level of accuracy yada yada whatever it does mean that's relevant. sell it.

GrendelsMum Fri 28-Dec-12 10:23:16

I was just about to say that I thought your CV was a very large part of the problem, and then I saw your last message, saying that you'd put your publications on your previous CV when going for other jobs. Nothing says 'out of touch with a commercial environment' like a list of publications on your CV (ok, generalising a bit there, but I really don't want to see your publications when I hire someone with a PhD to do non-research work, which I do).

An academic CV is TOTALLY different from a CV that you will need for most other jobs. Have you been to the University careers office to talk through your CV in detail? Have you been to the library to get books with examples of how a non-academic CV should look?

Putting in your achievements is very important, and mentioning the grant sounds like good thinking. I was also recommended a book called, I think, 'Brag: the art of tooting your own horn' which is excellent about promoting yourself in a positive, non bragging way.

LurcioLovesFrankie Fri 28-Dec-12 10:56:04

Another PhD scientist here - I work in R&D, and would say that of 200 people in our R&D dept, probably at least 3/4 have PhDs. So I agree with other posters that you really need to tailor your application to the specific job. I've recently been promoted (single mum, and part time, so v. chuffed to discover that it can be done even in those circs), and I and my managers put a lot of time into my application - making sure that for every criterion on the list, we had evidence to show that we'd ticked that box.

Go through each application with a fine tooth comb. Make a list of each buzz word, and do two things - work out what from your past experience can be put down as evidence that you fit, and look through the company's website for the sort of project they do that makes this feature an important one for them, and try to show that you could be a useful addition working on projects of that sort. You have to do this separately for every job - you cannot have a generic, one-size-fits-all CV that you send out with a half-arsed covering letter.

To be honest, knowing what I do of academia, if I were a potential employer, the bit that would worry me is not the PhD, but the multiple post-docs. Anyone with any ambition knows you apply a "2 and you're out" rule - if you haven't landed a lectureship by the end of postdoc no. 2, you should move on to industry/public sector/an alternative career. When I see someone who's been post-doc-ing for 10 years, I think that either they're hopelessly unrealistic and can't give up on the dream of a lectureship, or I think that they're a bit of a drifter who lacks ambition and can't get their act together to find something longer term. If I read your posts right, you've pretty much admitted that you're in the latter category (not a bad thing - I err in that direction myself, and the world would grind to a halt if we were all massively ambitious), but you really need to be able to fake a suitable level of ambition and committment when circumstances demand.

Good luck - lot of useful advice here, I think.

Re the "survival" jobs, I am an academic scientist and would hire a PhD for an RA job if they were prepared to work for the salary. She or he would need to convince in the cover letter though that they were going to work hard and with enthusiasm, not see the job as beneath them. I would wonder about hiring a PhD for any academic job who didn't have ambitions to be a group leader though. I want to hire those who will work hard so they can move to a better post, not those who want to tread water, so if you continue to apply for these jobs, be careful how you present yourself.

lljkk Fri 28-Dec-12 14:48:03

GrendelsMum's statements are quite depressing: there is no industry for my PhD skills within an hour's drive; we're not moving house soon and never on earth would I want to be a lecturer.

I'm going to grovel to my old employer (university) to see if I can pick up some work at the bottom of the pay scale/casual rates. Anything that covers my costs and lets me juggle childcare.

Good luck, LdS.

lljkk Fri 28-Dec-12 14:51:10

oops, Lurcio's post is one that depressed me, GrendelsMum fine (sorry).

Funny none of the jobs I apply for call for CVs to be submitted. They ask for the same info, but in their own job app format. And since I'm applying online using their apps, there's no way to submit my CV or another doc as a supplement. The real clincher is in the personal statement, I think. Making sure it has all the buzzwords & says how I meet their reqs.

GrendelsMum Fri 28-Dec-12 15:42:12

Oh good, I didn't hope to depress you!

You might want to have a look over on the Employment sub-forum and see what people have said in the past. It might also help if you had a chat to someone who hires people to get their perspective (if poss, not from academia).

Essentially, when we hire, we have prepared a summary of the role, and a list of the requirements and experience needed to do the role. When we look at CVs, we're looking at them hoping that someone has just the right match of qualifications and experience to do the job. Now, someone that's been, say, an editor at a journal may have the skills to run an academic department, or they may not - I don't know what a journal editor does, but I do know what skills I'm looking for, because my colleagues and I have spent hours thinking about this. If the journal editor can show me on her application that she already has all the skills needed to match my job description, then I'm going to interview her (unless there are numerous other candidates who also have the skills I'm looking for and something else as well). Does that make sense?

It's not about buzzwords or management jargon - it's about me, as a responsible person who has to justify their decisions about hiring, showing that I chose to interview the people who best fitted the job description as we had formally agreed it.

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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