A guideline to move from academia to industry – part 2
Leadership, development skills and the rest.
This is the second part of the guideline describing personal and professional aspects of the career moving process for academics that will to explore other career options.
In addition to the three groups of factors influencing hiring decisions described in the first part of the guide (available at the NLPpeople.com website), there are many more aspects that make your candidacy look better or worse for employers.
In many situations, the final decision on your job application is not dependent only on your knowledge and ability to integrate into the company workflow, but is also triggered by many subjective components that you can try to focus on in your CV or during job interview.
Leadership and team player skills. In today’s world, the majority of professionals balance between integration (i.e. to be a leader) and differentiation (to be a team player). Speaking from my experience as a person involved in academic research for many years, team playing is one of the most significant problems that people coming from academia can meet. Many headhunters and HRs know about this potential issue and one of your primary goals should be to convince them that you are able to find equilibrium between being ambitious and being a team player.
One way to do it is to list and describe collaborative projects you participated in and projects, which were driven by you in a balanced way. It is essential to remember that your skills and knowledge will not only benefit your own career but the ones of your colleagues too. Your capability to motivate people and to infect them with enthusiasm can be core for your new company or institution. But at the same time, nobody who intends to be effective leader can reach outstanding results operating independently of team.
Be a self-starter. The candidate’s ability to quickly find elegant and fortunately comprehensive approach to solve strategic or technical problems in your field is very much demanded for many of the positions you will be probably applying for. Passion for global solutions is based on your in-domain knowledge, erudition, intuition and speed of thinking. Do not hesitate to demonstrate to the employer your self-starter characteristics along with a proven record of personal motivation.
Decision making. Depending on the position you are applying for, a requirement for solid decision making skills can vary from optional to essential. As a manager, executive or a lead you will have to make regular difficult decisions about work and its progress that you don’t have to make in an entry-level position. Usually, decision making is linked with problem solving, negotiating solutions and information extraction. A good way to reflect your solid decision making skills, if necessary, is not to focus on demonstrating that you are innovative in your approach, but to clearly show that you are able to apply your valuable skills to make informative decisions of different levels of importance.
Development skills. I don’t think I will be wrong ranking your ability to efficiently implement your ideas as the second most important characteristic for the majority of tech professional and researcher positions. Normally, recent graduates are interested in entry-level jobs that require convincing your potential employers that you have transferable skills to be an asset to your new company. Development skills, especially programming, is one of these skills that you can employ on a daily basis in order to succeed in your chosen career. The tools and techniques that you know how to apply help you to find out how to deal with the challenges you’ll face at work in an effort-cheap way.
Professional network. By the end of your PhD or master program your network is usually quite large, it is internationally spread and not overlapping with the network that your future boss (probably spent many years in industry) has. People you know and people who know you is an important consideration that you should not underestimate.
Presentation. Don’t forget the emotional component that drives the decision making process of your application processing. Presentation of your career history is very important. You should demonstrate you are able (1) to clearly communicate detailed information both verbally and a well-written document and (2) you possess high-level interpersonal and communication skills with the capacity to build constructive and positive relationships with your future colleagues.
Keep in mind that you have a lot to offer your new company. Remember that job hunting is a long and sometimes tiring process. This is a time when you have to be smart, fast, disciplined and persistent towards your goals.
Good luck to everyone who opts for a life in fast lane. We are at your service to help you to find new opportunities at our website.
Maxim Khalilov, PhD is the R&D manager at TAUS B.V and the co-founder of NLPpeople.com. He is a former post-doctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, intern at Macquarie University (Australia) and a PhD student at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain).