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Leaving my PhD off resume

PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:01 am
by M. Hart
Hi Everyone,

I feel like this topic is something that has probably been discussed quite often, but let me explain my situation.

I got my Bachelors in 2011 (chemical engineering), and immediately followed it up with a PhD in the same field. Now, I never wanted to go into academia. My Phd project was actually something that was industry sponsored and very relevant to them at the time, so I thought "hey if I can get a PhD at the same time why not?"

I didnt realise at the time how a PhD could possibly be a bad thing for my career, but now that I have finished my studies and applied over 300 jobs without a single interview I am wondering whether to leave it off my resume.

I actually really dislike working in academia, not that there are many jobs there either. Anyways, here are my questions.

Is a good idea to remove the PhD from my resume and try my luck? I only apply to industry and commercial labs.

I havent actually graduated yet, and while my thesis has been examined and approved, I havent received an actual graduation date as of yet. Can i refuse to graduate so I can legally remove the PhD from my resume?

In my work experience section, initially I wrote PhD student and changed it to research scientist-postgraduate. Can i just delete the postgraduate part?

Thanks for reading this guys. Appreciate it

Re: Leaving my PhD off resume

PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 2:47 pm
by Dave Jensen
Hi M,

That's a nutty idea, really bonkers. Let's pass on that!

The PhD ChE job is in demand in many industries. I'm not certain what the situation is for you, but after all the effort, perhaps you need to sit back and do some analysis of your approach, instead of concocting a CV that will be seen by others (including Human Resources and Hiring Managers) as "lying."

How have you approached this massive job search? Sounds to me like you are really pumping out a lot of CV's, perhaps to unsolicited web application pages and so forth. Most of what happens in PhD-level employment is focused on who you know, and whether you are "liked" as a possible candidate.

If you were an expert tennis player, and you wanted to join the best tennis club in town, what would you do -- send unsolicited letters to their membership director? Of course not . . . you would take a few members out for a coffee and (most importantly) impress them with your game! Same thing here.

Spend a few minutes more to put up a post that tells our experienced readers and advisors what you are doing with your search, and how you have differentiated yourself to the employers. Also, perhaps you did a very academic-sounding dissertation . . .

Dave

Re: Leaving my PhD off resume

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 12:20 pm
by Ana
Hi M. Hart,

What makes you think that the one thing preventing you from getting interviewed to any of those 300 jobs is your upcoming PhD defence?

Re: Leaving my PhD off resume

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 6:30 pm
by Yandorio
300 is a very high number of applications with no response.
I thought I was the world record holder with 220 or so last year.
Sure, you could leave the PhD off your resume but does any
self-respecting PhD want to live a phony existence?
Get in your car and visit some departments--eye contact is a lot
more emotionally bonding than another email application.
Also write why the specific job is ideal for you--you're the perfect
match for the job. Also try to be the first to respond to a job ad.
Also, I would advise you go off the beaten path--I scoffed when
my friend hooked up with JP Morgan after grad school. Now she's making much more than I ever did.

Re: Leaving my PhD off resume

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2016 7:28 pm
by Rich Lemert
Yandorio wrote:Also write why the specific job is ideal for you--you're the perfect match for the job. Also try to be the first to respond to a job ad.


The first sentence is spot on. Last week a attended a job hunting workshop where the presenter had everyone write a summary of their "perfect" job. This forced the audience to think about what was really important to them, and what was just a "nice to have." It also gives you a target against which to compare the jobs you're applying to. If the job has 80% of what you want - go for it. If it has 20%, why are you wasting your time going after something you're going to be leaving in a couple of years anyway.

The second sentence is fine, but doesn't really go far enough. You don't want to be the first to respond to an ad - you want to get your application in front of the hiring manager before she even thinks about posting the ad. You want to get your name out there so that when an opening comes up, the hiring manager says "you know, I think M. Hart would be a good candidate for this position." That's the goal behind all our recommendations on this forum about networking.

Re: Leaving my PhD off resume

PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 12:19 pm
by Steven Z.
This is similar to what I ended up doing. I was in year 3 of a PhD program and started to get a firm grasp of the realities of life. I was looking around at the people graduating and their job search and noticed that from all the trouble they were having finding employment you'd have thought they spent 5 years in prison rather than a PhD.

I ended up going for the MSc as it just seemed to be a waste of time busting my rear for an educational credential that closed far more doors than it opened.

I saw a joke article a while back about someone starting a PhD expunging service where the PhD years are masked by a fake job at a biotech startup which I think might actually be a viable idea.

At this stage I'd get the PhD but if you end up applying for jobs where the PhD will likely close the door in your face you can definitely try leaving it off. You don't have to disclose information that is deleterious to you. I'd give it a try.

Re: Leaving my PhD off resume

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:48 am
by PG
If anyone finds out that you are lying regardless what the cause is this will not only cost you the job opportunity that you are looking at but also hurt your network. Biotech / Pharma is a relatively small world even if yo look globally and the number of companies active in a certain niche is limited. Companies hire from the same pool of applicants (some of which may have been at the department were you did your PhD studies) and people talk to each other.
Also lying in your application may cost you your job if anyone finds out at a later time point. Leaving your PhD off your CV might not but if you put in a fake job that is likely to cost you your job which is probably an even worse scenario since it will make it difficult to find a new position with that luggage.

Never lie and I would recommend including your PhD in your applications. Otherwise what would you do if another position comes up at the same company that actually requires a PhD? There are plenty of companies that hire PhDs for positions that shouldnt require a PhD (which leads to other problems) so as other posters have also said I think that there are other things that you should change first. The priority probably being how you approach your job search.

Re: Leaving my PhD off resume

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:06 am
by Steven Z.
I wouldn't call it lying your are not divulging deleterious information. The OP is applying to companies and his resume is closing doors because it screams overqualified too expensive etc.

The OP can either start playing smart or keep banging into the same wall over and over. This is why I am so glad I did not get a PhD. I'd be stuck in the glut with the rest of the suckers toiling as a post-doc or unemployed.

Even if you have to lie I would definitely endorse it if you have no other options. This expectation that candidates need to be 100% honest and ethical is entirely one sided. Companies are pulling every dirty trick they can get away with and I've certainly be lied to at interviews or otherwise treated badly more times than I can count. Also the hiring process is the most illogical, unfair, and dysfunctional process I have ever seen in my life.

Lies are a risk that needs to be managed. Do it if you need to but minimize it and be aware what the risks are. For most jobs companies send the background check to a third party company who will verify degrees, work history, references, and criminal background. Once you are past that you are probably home free. As for if the PhD will show up on the check and cause them to fire you I would tend to doubt it. It is not like you faked a degree you don't have.

Re: Leaving my PhD off resume

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:22 am
by Dave Jensen
Steven Z. wrote:I wouldn't call it lying your are not divulging deleterious information. The OP is applying to companies and his resume is closing doors because it screams overqualified too expensive etc.

The OP can either start playing smart or keep banging into the same wall over and over. This is why I am so glad I did not get a PhD. I'd be stuck in the glut with the rest of the suckers toiling as a post-doc or unemployed.

Even if you have to lie I would definitely endorse it if you have no other options. This expectation that candidates need to be 100% honest and ethical is entirely one sided. Companies are pulling every dirty trick they can get away with and I've certainly be lied to at interviews or otherwise treated badly more times than I can count. Also the hiring process is the most illogical, unfair, and dysfunctional process I have ever seen in my life.

Lies are a risk that needs to be managed. Do it if you need to but minimize it and be aware what the risks are. For most jobs companies send the background check to a third party company who will verify degrees, work history, references, and criminal background. Once you are past that you are probably home free. As for if the PhD will show up on the check and cause them to fire you I would tend to doubt it. It is not like you faked a degree you don't have.


I want to caution readers that the advice expressed above by Steven Z. is completely unorthodox. We have no connection to this poster, and it is likely that no one with experience in companies would agree with his comments. Omission is lying, and lying is cause for firing, and there are many examples of this, some spoken of in this forum in the past. It's a sad state of affairs when people can get on a public forum (thank Goodness for anonymity, eh Steven?) and post encouraging comments to others about the value of cheating, lying, or being completely artificial in your relationships with employers.

Regards, Dave Jensen, Moderator

Re: Leaving my PhD off resume

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 12:36 pm
by Steven Z.
And your advice is what? Go to the interview and reveal every deleterious piece of information from your past? I was fired from Target when I was 19, my greatest weakness is I am disorganized and distrustful of authority, I was arrested for drunk and disorderly when I was 25 but no record exists of it because the charges were dropped but I thought I should reveal it anyways and by the way your tie is ugly and the reason I want this job is because I need a job, you pay more than minimum wage, and are close to where I live, my previous salary was 30% below market, and I am seeking a new job because I am bored and my last boss was an [expletive]. Yep you will definitely go far being completely honest and revealing everything.

There is a place that HR has for honest candidates. It is called the rejection bin.