Should you leave your PhD off your CV?

A couple of weeks ago I shared some of the research I have been doing with my colleagues Associate Professor Hanna Suominen and Dr Will Grant about recruiter’s attitudes to PhD graduates.

I recommend you read the previous post on anti-PhD attitudes before this one, but briefly: our research concerns recruiters, who are important gate keepers in the non-academic employment process. A recruiter might be the first person to read your resume and most of them do not have PhDs. In fact, some have very little experience or knowledge of the PhD process. You need to account for this fact when you enter the non-academic employment market.

Model of professional skills required by non academic employers of researchers – from the research of Mewburn, Suominen and Grant (2018)

Recruiters are much more interested in your experience than your education and will not see the PhD as a reason to put you on a short list. While some recruiters see the PhD as clear evidence you are intelligent and dedicated, they might still actively exclude you from a short list on the grounds that the last PhD they hired did not turn out well. In my previous post I argued that a PhD positions you as a minority in the job market and you may face the kinds of discrimination that are routinely experienced by people of colour, older workers and those with disabilities.

After you read my previous post you might be tempted to leave your PhD off your CV altogether. Some people told me this strategy got them on the short list, but others said it made no difference. People who dropped the PhD had to account for the up to five year hole in their CV and usually did this by describing their PhD as a ‘large research project’ done inside the university. I think it’s important to bear in mind what I said in my previous post about what sort of activity counts as ‘work’ and how different experiences are valued. Recruiters think of the university as a very distinct kind of workplace and are often unconvinced that a PhD represents the right kind of experience.

If you want to minimise your status as a PhD holder, you don’t have to hide it completely; just move the education section further down so it’s not one of the first things recruiters read. As a research educator, it hurts my heart to think people have to actively hide their credentials and, to be honest, I’m not convinced it’s the right way to go. On the job market you still have many advantages over other people who do not have such highly developed skills in research and writing. The trick is to leverage the advantages of your PhD as best you can. Start by trying to understand what is going on in mind of the person reading your CV. Recognise and accept that some of the concerns recruiters and employers have are legitimate and make sure you address their concerns directly in your cover letter for the position.

Below I have listed some of the attitudes our research has uncovered and some ideas for how to counter these fears:

Employers are worried you can’t do the job that’s actually advertised

There’s a lot of talk about ‘transferable skills’, but I am not convinced there is such a thing. Take a deep breath and dwell for a moment with the idea that you have trained for a long time in a set of skills that are specific to academia and these skills – in their current form – might be of limited value outside of that context. Skills can’t directly be transferred, but they can be translated. You’ll need to demonstrate this translation has already occurred to any potential employer.

Writing is a good case in point. Just because you can write academic papers, or a 100,000 word dissertation, doesn’t mean you can do the kind of writing a non academic job requires. Recruiters know this and will not be impressed with the list of papers you sweated blood to produce. I have some sympathy with recruiters on this one. I recently advertised a job that did not require a PhD and people sent me CVs with reams of publications in areas like physics and biology. While I was impressed with the sheer number of papers, I did not ask for a research paper writer. I am well aware – as are most employers – that academic papers have very specific discipline conventions that may make them unreadable to the uninitiated. Looked at this way, a big list of research papers might make your considerable skills in writing look worse than they are!

Instead of a big list of publications, briefly tell your potential employer how many research papers you wrote and include a link to somewhere they can verify this information. Stop treating your CV as a kind of trophy cabinet and try to think about your writing skills from your potential employers point of view: what value add do your skills represent to them?

Have a look at the kind of writing on their website or publicly available company documents – and internal documents if you can get hold of them. Do you have evidence that you can do this kind of writing? If so, privilege this information over your list of research publications. If you can’t demonstrate you can write across genres, try unpacking the specialised PhD writing skill so your potential employer can understand how it applies to their needs. Don’t tell them you can do a literature review (a term not used outside of academia), explain that you are capable of ‘quickly distilling key information from a range of sources to inform others of the latest research developments’. Don’t tell them you can write compelling arguments, tell them you can use your writing skills ‘to influence key internal and external stakeholders’. Don’t tell them you can interpret data and develop theories, tell them you can ‘use evidence to explain a problem and convince others to take a specific course of action’.

I word of warning: don’t assume recruiters will  buy your attempts to repackage your skill set: it is always better to show than tell. If you are serious about working outside of academia, seek out opportunities to use your skills in other contexts. Finally and most importantly: remember every piece of writing you send to a potential employees is a demonstration of your expertise. If you can’t write a short, compelling email, format a word document or avoid egregious spelling mistakes, you are doing yourself damage from the very beginning. Your employer is going to read hundreds of emails from you, so start how you mean to go on.

Employers are worried that you will work too slowly

Speed is important in a business setting. Recently, a friend who works at one of the big four consulting firms complained over lunch that he had plenty of money to commission academic research, but that he was unable to find any academics who could deliver research within a reasonable timeframe. It turned out the academics he contacted proposed a 9 month research project, but he wanted it done in six weeks. I have sympathy for the academics in this case: if they had 6 weeks to do research and nothing else they probably could deliver. I explained to my friend that nine months is actually a pretty short turn around time considering how much teaching and other administrative work must be done. He was unimpressed: ‘speedy’ clearly means something different in academia than it does in business.

You’ll need to account for this different conception of speed in your communications with potential employers. Remember non-academics have no idea about what is normal in your discipline. If you wrote a lot of papers compared to others doing a PhD, tell them that you are ‘x% more productive’ than others in your field. If you completed your PhD without needing any extensions: congratulations! Tell the potential employer that only 20% of people manage this feat.

If it took more than three years to do your PhD full time, an employer might question your ability to get things done. This sucks for people who had terrible supervision or difficult experimental results that caused their projects to run over time. You’ll have to find a way to explain the situation without sounding bitter – no one wants to work with someone who blames other people for problems (even if it’s true). Trouble with finances is a good, neutral reason to explain longer time frames. Explain you had to go part time to support yourself and emphasise the time management skills you gained from juggling study and work.

Employers are worried you will be bored and run back to academia as soon as you have the chance.

Recruiters told us they were worried that PhD graduates would be a flight risk; liable to run back to the academy at the first opportunity. They know that some PhD graduates look at industry jobs as sloppy seconds. Now sit with this idea for a moment: are they entirely wrong?

You might tell yourself you are sick of academia – and there’s plenty not to like – but if that dream job came up, you applied and by some miracle got it … would you REALLY turn it down? If you can honestly answer yes, you are ready to leave. If not, you might need to see if you can follow your academic dream for a bit longer. Most recruiters are pretty good at their jobs and will sense if you are not committed to the idea of the ‘outside’.

You might be totally over academia, but convincing a non-academic employer – without sounding bitter – is easier said than done. I think the best strategy is to be honest and tell them why you applied for that job in particular. Be very specific: “I have done lots of interviews during my PhD and I’m interested in how these can be used to make products and services better”; “I prefer to work in teams and this job offers me opportunities that are not possible in academia” are both better answers than “there were no opportunities in academia for me”.

Employers think your expertise is too specialised

I did my PhD on hand gestures in architecture teaching. Clearly I don’t do anything like that now. A colleague of mine has a PhD in marsupial reproduction and is a now a really amazing business development manager. The idea that a PhD is destiny is a very outdated notion to us, but is it really? Let’s dwell with this idea for a moment and think about how the PhD process might force us to be too narrow.

Recruiters told me they prefer to see a masters degree on CVs as it suggests someone has research skills, but is not too specialised. There is some truth in this. I often talk to candidates in anthropology and social science who do not have any skills in quantitive analysis and are almost phobic of numbers. Likewise I talk to scientists who seem to lack basic skills in representing and talking about data, while displaying dazzling virtuosity in one specific, highly complex stochastic analysis types. The PhD does force you to specialise to the needs to your topic – which is ok if you are coming off an existing broad skill set, but many of us do not have this luxury.

During your PhD you could take short courses and broaden yourself out, but most people don’t even explore these options. I am no exception. I remember one of my PhD colleagues sweating over a course she took in statistics as an extra in her PhD, even though she didn’t need statistics for her topic. I thought this was a waste of time back then, now I think she was really smart. I struggled to learn statistics later because every job I’ve had in academia requires at least basic knowledge of how to process this kind of data. I often wish I took that stupid course with Paula.

Take a good look at your CV and ask yourself a hard question: are you too specialised? If so, do something about it – if you’re still inside the university, accessing extra courses is much cheaper than it will be when you finish. If not, what other jobs and experiences can you draw on to demonstrate a broader skill set? If every example of a skill set that you give an employer comes from your PhD, you make yourself look much more narrow than you are. You’ll need to think about how you are going to demonstrate important skills in team work too: our research shows this is one of the top priorities for employers. The PhD is the epitome of a solo pursuit, so you may not have anything you can point to in your university career that demonstrates teamwork, but what about before that?

All your work experience is potentially valid in the hiring process. When I went for my current job at ANU the interview panel asked me how I planned to be a manager when I listed no managerial experience on my resume. I realised I left out all the work I did managing both a book store and a record store (remember those?) in the 1990s when I took a break from study. I reached back into those experiences to explain to the panel the size of team I managed in those shops, the business processes I implemented when computers first appeared on site and the difficulties of managing employees who were dealing drugs under the counter… Jokingly I said “So if the police turn up, I’m your woman!”. The panel were much more interested in this experience than my PhD and to this day I wonder if those outrageous stories from retail are the real reason I got the job!

Employers think you will expect high wages

Most PhD students laugh out loud when I tell them this is a real employer fear. I’m sure you are more than ready to earn a proper salary. However, be careful not to over value yourself when you scan the available jobs. You are starting over in a new area and will need to go low and aim high. It’s a bit of a goldilocks dilemma though: too low and you look ‘over qualified’; too high and you look inexperienced. Judging by the discussions I’ve had with PhD graduates over the last couple of weeks, it can feel a bit ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’. If you go in too low, employers might think you will get bored.

I don’t know the way out of this catch-22 dilemma except to say that you’ll have to stick at it, perhaps longer than you would like. This is the time I should again highlight the value of doing some pro-bono work and networking. The idea of doing free work is to ‘get your feet wet’ and start to meet people who can speak for you being a bright spark who should be given a chance. For what it’s worth: this strategy has always worked for me. I have never once got a job by applying to a job advertisement ‘cold’. All my career success, as an architect and then an academic, has been the result of showing people what I am like to work with. People tend to love the way I work, so I have little trouble getting promoted internally, even if it’s a bit difficult getting my foot in the door – but this is a post for another time as I just hit triple my usual word limit… clearly I have a lot to say. Maybe it’s time to write that book!

I hope this post helps you start to think about positioning yourself and your CV. What do you think? Have you tried any of these techniques? Do you have any more advice to offer? Interested to hear about your experiences in the comments.

I have weaved in much that I learned from talking to PhD graduates on the blog, Facebook and Twitter into to my advice on hiding the PhD on your CV. I usually like to give direct credit for advice, but in this case I have chosen to leave off specific names because I don’t want to ‘out’ anyone for ‘devious’ behaviour. I sincerely appreciate these conversations: thank you. I am lucky the Thesis Whisperer is blessed with a highly intelligent and generous community!

Previous posts on our employability research

Academic on the inside

What do academic employers want?

I want to leave academia – what’s next?

What is this anti-PhD attitude all about?

Our research papers

“Academic superheroes: a critical analysis of academic job descriptions”

“A machine learning analysis of the demand for non academic  job opportunities for PhD graduates in Australia”.

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34 thoughts on “Should you leave your PhD off your CV?

  1. I agree with all your advice Inger!

    On the point about salary, I’d suggest not talking about wages until after you receive an offer. If pushed at interview, you can specify a range, say within a band of $10,000 AUD. If you feel it’s appropriate, depending on your level of experience (i.e. especially if you lack experience), you could say that gaining further experience in a certain area within the role is more important than salary. There are lots of sources online to find out approximate wages (e.g. Glassdoor.com.au), but even better is to ask people you know in that industry what’s reasonable.

    You might be shocked how low the wages are in some very large, prestigious organisations – I recently calculated that a highly qualified, very experienced and personable business consultant was earning the same per hour as a sales assistant in a large retail store.

    • Absolutely. I know people who went from PhD to management consulting in a Big 4 firm on a 60k salary – which is glorious after the thesis, but much less than the 80-95k they would have gotten if they’d gone into government instead (giving that bracket as it depends on the level of entry, but that’s a pretty likely bracket). Plus they do a 50-60 hour work week instead of 38.
      (Very keen not to give the impression government is a doddle though – I work with super smart and hardworking people.. we just have great conditions!)
      I do want to emphasise that you can absolutely negotiate for a higher level of pay based on previous paid work at the uni – including in government – for example, I lectured during my thesis and was paid up to about $138 per hour of teaching (it included all the prep, of course) – this was sufficient evidence to request a salary increase (I went for 5% and don’t recommend going higher in govt).

  2. Wow an absolutely fantastic post and at the perfect moment for me! I officially received my title in January, but have been applying for research, academia and government scientific and policy roles since August last year. I worked for eight years as a policy officer in natural resource management and ecology prior to completing my PhD. Even though I have tried actively to merge all of my experiences – I have been having a very hard time to get a job. I’m lucky that I am getting interviews (10 so far) but always missing out on getting the roles. Either I pitch myself as too policy or as too sciencey (every time the feedback is different and so each time I adjust I seem to get the balance wrong). It’s a real struggle and I am seeing the PhD as a huge disadvantage for these roles. I am so frustrated and down about the whole process. But I will try and implement some of the strategies you mention here. However, I would say that there is no guarantee. I used some of my older policy and stakeholder engagement experience in one interview and they told me it was too old and that I should have spoken about my PhD more. When I went to the next interview they asked me why I didn’t describe the policy work in more detail…..

    • I have had similar experiences – no matter what the job, I never quite fit their needs. From each interview feedback, I’m told there was nothing wrong with my interview, I just didn’t quite fit what they were looking for. Science types think I’m too artsy; Arts people think I’m too intellectual; academics think my work in vocational training means I’m not up to teaching postgrads; my empathy skills lost me a job running large workshops, cos they thought I wouldn’t translate to a larger audiences … And why didn’t I talk more about my PhD work in my interview?

      My problem isn’t that I’m too specialised; its that my work history shows I’ve worked in a wide range of industries and levels, partly because I worked p/t through my PhD at what I could get that suited my studies. One interested employer told me he’d never seen a CV like mine, with such a breadth of experience. And they just wanted someone who has just done the same position for years. To know they could fit in easily.

      And don’t let them know you’re creative! Woah! none of that innovative stuff here, thanks.

      • Thank you for writing this reply Dr. Rusty. Absolutely the same experience for me. I have not had bad feedback yet on an interview – I am just never quite the right fit!
        I also have a super diverse CV, similar to you, with a huge range of professional, research and scientific communication experience. I do feel that the PhD is considered some sort of ‘black hole’ for some jobs. I am applying for a wide range of roles, as I don’t have the flexibility to move cities.
        Heaven forbid you are creative, dynamic, intelligent and able to adapt to a wide range of contexts! Couldn’t commiserate more with your experience if I tried! Good luck with the search! Cheers 🙂

  3. Great post! I just want to emphasise what you’ve said about writing your application as I’ve just been on panels and this came up a lot.
    When it comes to providing evidence against selection criteria, a written application can be a tricky thing to use to judge stakeholder management or policy skills (for example). However, it is an excellent piece of evidence of writing ability (writing this now, it seems obvious, but it was something I hadn’t thought about before). Spelling errors, grammatical mistakes or overly florid writing can therefore get your application thrown out, where a not strong example against a different criterion might have the panel saying ‘we want more evidence, let’s get them in’.
    I have been on panels that cut people for having two spelling mistakes on the same page. Your application is considered to be a high stakes piece of writing you put a huge amount of effort into, and therefore a sample of your best work. If writing is important for the job, please take the time to proof your application properly!!!

  4. FABULOUS thread! And apologies in advance for the rather lengthy reply…
    A practical strategy to employ when writing your application is to use the language employers/industry values. For example, the Review of Australia’s Research Training System (Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA), 2016) identifies problem solving and formulation, communication, and leadership as abilities employers most value in graduate employees (there is a table that identifies the explicit areas on p.39 in the report). It also identifies that employers across all sectors value the same attributes; broadly, these are effective oral and written communication skills; in-depth knowledge of their field of study; and critical judgement and analytical skills. The Review further observes that the abilities valued by employers align with those mandated in the Australian Quality Framework (AQF, 2013) at Level 10 (PhD level), as detailed below.

    Graduates of a Doctoral Degree will have:
    • cognitive skills to demonstrate expert understanding of theoretical knowledge and to reflect critically on 
that theory and practice 

    • cognitive skills and use of intellectual independence to think critically, evaluate existing knowledge and 
ideas, undertake systematic investigation and reflect on theory and practice to generate original 
knowledge 

    • expert technical and creative skills applicable to the field of work or learning 

    • communication skills to explain and critique theoretical propositions, methodologies and conclusions 

    • communication skills to present cogently a complex investigation of originality or original research for 
external examination against international standards and to communicate results to peers and the 
community 

    • expert skills to design, implement, analyse, theorise and communicate research that makes a significant 
and original contribution to knowledge and/or professional practice (AQF, 2013, p.64).

    Elaborating on your broader capacities* of problem solving and formulation, communication, and leadership using the language industry/employers value and are familiar with is often effective in bridging the academic workplace gap.

    *abilites and capacities rather than ‘training’ more accurately conveys the complexity of learning that occurs during the PhD but that’s a whole other subject!

    • > Graduates of a Doctoral Degree will have:
      • cognitive skills to demonstrate expert understanding of theoretical knowledge and to reflect critically on 
that theory and practice 

      • cognitive skills and use of intellectual independence to think critically, evaluate existing knowledge and 
ideas, undertake systematic investigation and reflect on theory and practice to generate original 
knowledge 

      • expert technical and creative skills applicable to the field of work or learning 

      • communication skills to explain and critique theoretical propositions, methodologies and conclusions 

      • communication skills to present cogently a complex investigation of originality or original research for 
external examination against international standards and to communicate results to peers and the 
community 

      • expert skills to design, implement, analyse, theorise and communicate research that makes a significant 
and original contribution to knowledge and/or professional practice (AQF, 2013, p.64).

      That’s a list of features – it’s not a series of quantifiable benefits or measurable outcomes.

  5. I really need to comment here on your suggestion that ‘a PhD positions you as a minority in the job market and you may face the kinds of discrimination that are routinely experienced by people of colour, older workers and those with disabilities’ – I find this position incredibly insensitive to the very real and ongoing discrimination these groups experience. Unlike a PhD, which people willingly pursue, the groups you have mentioned have had no choice in their circumstances and have very limited ability to ‘disguise’ or ‘reframe’ the things that make them discriminated against. It is a very different type of discrimination and grossly inappropriate to make this type of connection.

    • From a social-psychological perspective, I suspect the process of discrimination will be very similar (in this very specific instance, I’m not suggesting that this comparison should be extended…). As the post suggests, people have certain stereotypes (read: prejudice) which they use to judge people that hold PhDs. And to be very honest, I don’t think the “disguising” and “reframing” suggested above really works, because most HR people will look through the ruse. Why should they employ someone with no ACTUAL experience, if they could hire someone who has done the same job before? Again, experience and not qualifications matter, to the extent that I think that most employers basically see a 3-4 year PhD as equalling unemployment.

    • Yes, this, absolutely. In 2014 in the US, the unemployment rate for people with PhDs was 2.1%, compared with 7.5% overall (https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2016/05/employment-crisis-new-phds-illusion). The US Census Bureau has data on median salaries for scientists with undergrad, MSc, and PhD degrees in a bunch of subjects for 2009-2011, and those with PhDs consistently earn 20-30k USD more than those with just bachelors degrees (https://grad.msu.edu/phdcareers/career-support/phdsalaries). And all of those numbers were substantially higher than the overall median US salary in _2019_, which was about $44k.

      On the other hand, in the US in 2017, women made 80 cents for every dollar a man made. For black women this is 62 cents; for Hispanic women it was 54 cents. The US federal minimum wage in 2018 was $7.25 per hour, unless you’re disabled, in which case the minimum wage was $1 per hour.

      Someone in a wheelchair physically cannot enter the building I work in, whereas almost everyone who works here either has a PhD or is a postgraduate student.

      And that’s not even getting into things like access to education (or to healthcare) (or the probability of being shot by police while walking down the street) (or …).

      These are not comparable.

    • I agree it’s grossly inappropriate – and having experienced very real and persistent gender-based discrimination over many years, I find it personally offensive.
      Also, the recommendation to do “pro bono”, free work is deeply concerning. Is there any evidence showing that unpaid internships for highly skilled workers lead to either employment or higher salaries? An unpaid role that really did “get your feet wet”, and involved using high level skills and knowledge, would potentially be unlawful: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/unpaid-work

      • People with jobs do pro-bono, if you are unemployed it’s free labour – let’s call it what it is.

        I am not convinced that it is of much benefit either (well except to the moocher).

        • I just went back and re-read that section. Pro-bono work for a private company or for-profit organisation certainly is illegal. But my interpretation was that the suggestion was to volunteer to gain experience legally – for example, coordinating events for a professional association or managing the budget/finances for a community organisation. I’m aware there are quite a number of students and grads providing free labour in the form of ‘internships’, mainly to law firms and private companies, which we shouldn’t condone. This form of work disadvantages everyone else in general, as it reinforces the idea that free labour is ok (so companies keep doing it), and further disadvantages those from low-SES families in particular, who often don’t have the resources to take time off from their part-time jobs to work for free.

          • I think we are quibbling about language – pro-bono is generally used to talk about when salaries employees or business owners do something out as part of their professional development or provide resources.

            An unemployed person or student cannot do pro-bono work because there is nothing to pro-bono.

            As an academic, I do 60 odd hours of pro-bono work a year (what many academics give away for free comes out of this sixty hours – I never work for free).

            I do this because I’m salaried 365 days a year and want to give something back.

          • I had in mind paid internships – where you are on a subsidised wage for a short amount of time. The government are doing quite a bit of this now, through programs like APR intern. I am not proposing people do free labour, although that seems to have become the expectation in some quarters.

            • The words in the post were quite clear – “pro bono” and “free work”. A reader familiar with Fair Work Australia’s definitions of internships would not interpret “pro bono” or “free work” as an internship (done as part of a formal course of study), and certainly not as a *paid* internship described in the response.

      • I should clarify that I don’t mean a lot of work, but sometimes – yes, it helps. I did do a bit of free work at the start of my architecture career and it certainly did help me get a start – I was below the poverty line at the time, so it was really hard and I wouldn’t recommend doing it for very long. Sometimes, sadly, this is the best way to break into an industry. I wish the world was better for graduates I really do. I think schemes like APR intern, where people are paid a wage to do a short research project in a company is a better scheme. All Australian PhD students should have some access to this scheme or similar. Take up rates are still low, which I think is a pity.

        • Doing “free work” may have been historically usual or acceptable, but nowadays it’s less so and potentially exploitative. As a potential employee, offering to do “free work” outside a recognised training scheme or legitimate volunteering capacity, does little more than devalue one’s knowledge, skills, and experience. An employer or potential employer willing to accept “free work” should be reported.

    • I take your point – what might be a better way to describe what I am seeing in this data though? If you read my previous post, I outline my reasons for making this comparison. It is true that PhD holders are so rare in the workforce that they technically are a minority. By this stage they cannot ‘undo’ their PhD status either. ‘Minority’ is a loaded word, I agree, but I struggle to find another way to put it. I’d welcome suggestions.

      • I did read the previous post and found the explanation similarly odd. Yes, PhDs are statistically a minority in the workforce. The loaded term though is “discrimination”. A PhD is not a personal characteristic, and it’s not an attribute that requires legal protection against discrimination in the way that age, disability, race, sex, intersex status, gender identity and sexual orientation are. The findings (from 8 recruiters?) could suggest bias, however it’s very a small sample, and there seems to be little little detail around many other potentially contributing factors such as the position being recruited for, application materials (cv/resume, cover letter, etc), other decision makers (e.g. the hiring manager or team), decision points where the candidate was rejected, strength of other candidates, etc.

      • I think you’re right to say that in this specific context, PhD holders are experiencing a particular bias commonly experimenting by minority groups. If recruiters/panel members can’t readily think of members of their group performing the job well, applicants essentially need to demonstrate that ‘people like them’ have the capacity to do the job rather than simply demonstrating that they, personally, are qualified for the position. This bias comes through in the comparison to masters students, who apparently can simply list their qualification and it is automatically considered a good thing. The net result is that PhD students/other minorities need to put in an absolutely brilliant application and interview to be offered a job, whereas masters students/non-minorities need only be very good.

        I think the issue with your wording is that this is only one of the many, many, many forms of discrimination experienced by other minority groups. The phrase “you may face the kinds of discrimination that are routinely experienced by people of colour, older workers and those with disabilities.” to me suggests that PhD holders are similarly experiencing multiple forms of discrimination (particularly due to using kinds as a plural). This as clearly not true and doesn’t recognise the difference between experiencing discrimination on a daily basis and infrequently in specific circumstances.

  6. Great and informative post. i think one of the problems is that PhD holders continue to be unsure how to market their degree as more than an academic right of passage.

    A big part of the issue is that PhD holders see that degree time as experience and employers do not.

  7. If someone invests many years in their doctorate, and then in professional life to hide the doctorate, is absurdity so hard to beat. A doctoral thesis is an outstanding achievement and for this the person should not have to hide!

    • Putting the education section later in your resume isn’t “hiding it” – it’s following a common industry-focused format that puts emphasis on experience and skills, not qualifications. Having said that, there’s no reason a PhD can’t list the project in the experience section (on the first page) with details of the project.

    • I agree – ideally this is the case. Sadly, our research suggests this is not the case – in Australia at least. I take it from your email address that you are in Germany, where there is a lot more of an enlightened attitude to the PhD than in places like Australia.

  8. Somebody help me please. I am going bananas over whether I should do a PhD or not. I am a professional with experience in fashion and luxury mostly. About 2 years ago I received a job offer and started lecturing in Marketing and various business related courses at a Chinese university. I was looking for other opportunities overseas just to understand what the possibilities are but almost every other opening leads to a PhD requirement. I don’t even know where to begin with if I am to do a PhD. The biggest question is what value will I create by completing a PhD? What’s the good in me joining a group of people who have done a PhD. The reason I love lecturing is that I can get a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day because I have work experience and skills I can transfer to my students. I am a cultured, well travelled and well educated polyglot and I can truly feel like I am contributing a lot in class and making a difference here. I love teaching. But if I want to continue doing the same elsewhere my chances are very slim because most universities demand lecturers to hold a PhD degree. I am completely lost. Please share your thoughts and experiences. I would be grateful forever

  9. I think we should not. It depends on the job we are applying and competences that we need to show while we process the application. If a particular job needs doctorate level of education i.e. research, journal editors etc, we must write and highlight the experiences related to our doctorate degree program.

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