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How would you define a "PhD level" job?

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How would you define a "PhD level" job?

Postby Kaylee » Tue Sep 27, 2016 4:56 pm

Looking through the archives and articles here, I've found some discussions about PhDs being considered "overqualified" for certain jobs, or having a hard time getting their careers back on track if they do take a job that's not PhD level.

What do you think are the important characteristics of a job that determine whether it's "PhD level" or "not PhD level"?
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Re: How would you define a "PhD level" job?

Postby Rich Lemert » Tue Sep 27, 2016 8:19 pm

For most of the audience here, the distinction would be based on the current and/or potential level to conduct and direct a significant research effort. The PhD is, after all, a research degree. I would say, though, that I believe this definition applies mainly to those in one of the sciences.

Personally, I take a more expansive view - which probably reflects my engineering background. In my field, accepting a job that doesn't require a PhD isn't necessarily a career-limiting action. All it means is that you're starting your career at a more advanced stage if you have a PhD than if you don't. I agree it may be limiting if you're desire is for a research career, but we have other options available to us that also lead to a fulfilling and meaningful career.
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Re: How would you define a "PhD level" job?

Postby D.X. » Wed Sep 28, 2016 2:32 am

I agree with Rich - PhD Level Job based on the distinction to conduct and direct a Research effort with independence.

This goes back to what the goal of graduate and post-graduate Training is first and foremost about: Train to become independent investigators of science with attention to ethical conduct of Research. It does not define where and how then accredited individual can decide to leverage that training in the spirit of that Goal, which then leaves the door wide open to exploration and pursuit of career options.

So that would be expectation, for those Jobs that are defined as PhD Level, some level of "documented" ability to excute in fairly Independent Level sufficient to be deemed or appointed an "owner" of some scientifc effort, it a Project or a Program.

Don't get too lost on the myth of being over-qualified. For someone at the Interface of academia looking to move beyond academia, this term does not apply. It can't apply, because this type of Person has no Hands on experience to where they are looking to go, the knowledge gap is pretty wide subject matter wise and Job conduct wise and one usually builds a Story on a potential value Proposition founded on tranlational and portable skill sets (where this Forum spends alot of time discussing).

If you do hear of such term being used, usually this is linked to some Folks being a bit unwise and applying for non-PhD Level Jobs (here the employer is looking for a follow and operational excuter, not an Independent and creative optimizer, which is what PhD Level experience gives right?) and thus gets this Response. And sometimes and employer, sadly will use this as an easy excuse to say "no". During the let down, or a decision of no go, they take an easy route to make you feel good (woo hoo, I'm over qualified), while letting you take the the bad News better (I have no Job offer), and haveing them feel better as well because most likely the candidate will accept that excuse without further inquiry.

That latter part is very rare and doesn't mean anything, it just a way for employers to tell you the more relevant truth, i.e. you are just NOT qualified.

And thay's why this myth you hear about being "overqualified" perpetuates. So my advice, think no further on this term. Do not dwell on it, you have an answer so let it go. You are not over qualified. I would advise the the Forum stops such discussion on over-qualification,

And to be through, here is an example of over-qualified: You are a tenured team leader with strategy ownership with direct reports and apply for a lower Position in the same function with no career trajectory alignment, with no reports, where you will be delivering operational tactics - that's an example overqualification (and yes this happens in very competitive Environments with few Job ops). Most of the benifactors of this forum do not have this issue or not in this Situation.

Good luck,

Dx
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Re: How would you define a "PhD level" job?

Postby Dave Walker » Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:44 am

In the life sciences, there is a somewhat rigid hierarchy of entry-level R&D positions. The problem can start with the position title: the non-PhD jobs are sometimes clear, like Research Associate, but others are vague (Scientist I). The distinction is clear on the other side however: the Associate-type jobs are more focused on following others, and do not need a PhD. They are more like lab technicians. The other side (Scientist II, Senior Scientist, etc.) are responsible for a whole project or part of one. They are much more like postdocs and junior faculty, and can be promoted as such.

On the non-research side of things it can be more fluid. There are tracks for PhD-holding employees in some divisions like Regulatory Affairs and Patent Reviewing. On the business side, some companies and products really like having a PhD working in Sales, Technical Support or Field Support. In those cases, even though the job can be done without a PhD and many employees don't have one, the degree can command a higher salary and respect. It can also be a good case for leadership opportunities in the future.
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Re: How would you define a "PhD level" job?

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:56 pm

This is a topic where you can find all kinds of different advice, and Dave Walker is correct that most of this stems from the fact that the life sciences research career track is very rigid and defined. And if a PhD takes a non-PhD job, it's career-labeling and it's something you are asked about for a decade in every job search you take on. ("I see you didn't stay long in that Associate job at XYZ. I'm assuming that was a BS level job -- what were your reasons for taking it? Did you think it would take you somewhere that it didn't?").

Engineering jobs, sales/marketing, applications scientist roles, etc. are much more forgiving, and Rich's advice and DX's advice comes into play. You've just started your career in those roles at a bit more advanced level than others without the PhD. I would expect, for example, that a PhD selling life sciences reagents is told by some "you are overqualified" but in reality, you're just planting yourself on some new terra firma, and there's no problem with that. Three years later that PhD selling reagents with his or her colleagues who have a BS degree goes on to the Director role -- perhaps significantly faster than others. Or, moves to head Technical Support and Applications Science, etc.

Just watch out for jobs like "Research Associate" where you are clearly overqualified if you're simply doing the same work day after day, where some other PhD is calling the shots and you are simply a pair of hands.

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Re: How would you define a "PhD level" job?

Postby RGM » Thu Sep 29, 2016 1:33 pm

Kaylee wrote:What do you think are the important characteristics of a job that determine whether it's "PhD level" or "not PhD level"?


If the company advertising the job requires the candidate have a PhD or not.


There's a lot of jobs that I'd like to do, but due to my PhD people think I will become bored, and look for another job. Unfortunately for me, they are quite wrong.

In fact, I was told in an interview by the manager "You'd be great, exactly what we are looking for, I could hire you. But given your background, you'd become bored after a few months and look for something else. You should go into sales". Right, because sales requires a PhD? It doesn't.
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Re: How would you define a "PhD level" job?

Postby Dave Walker » Thu Sep 29, 2016 2:58 pm

RGM wrote:In fact, I was told in an interview by the manager "You'd be great, exactly what we are looking for, I could hire you. But given your background, you'd become bored after a few months and look for something else. You should go into sales". Right, because sales requires a PhD? It doesn't.


Ouch, RGM, way to hit me where it hurts :(

Stepping aside whether or not the manager you spoke to was just trying to be polite, there are indeed places in sales where a PhD is almost necessary. Or, put another way, a place where you "won't get bored" because of the complexity of the product/service and of the sale.

If the board readership is at all interested, I could talk about this further in another thread. For more reading, I always recommend the SciCareers classic, "His Mother Cried When he went into Sales" http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/1997/ ... went-sales.
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Re: How would you define a "PhD level" job?

Postby RGM » Thu Sep 29, 2016 3:37 pm

Dave Walker wrote:
RGM wrote:In fact, I was told in an interview by the manager "You'd be great, exactly what we are looking for, I could hire you. But given your background, you'd become bored after a few months and look for something else. You should go into sales". Right, because sales requires a PhD? It doesn't.


Ouch, RGM, way to hit me where it hurts :(

Stepping aside whether or not the manager you spoke to was just trying to be polite, there are indeed places in sales where a PhD is almost necessary. Or, put another way, a place where you "won't get bored" because of the complexity of the product/service and of the sale.

If the board readership is at all interested, I could talk about this further in another thread. For more reading, I always recommend the SciCareers classic, "His Mother Cried When he went into Sales" http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/1997/ ... went-sales.


Not sure what you mean by your first sentence.

Who knows what that manager meant. I'll never know, so I don't care. However, knowing the job position and speaking with other managers at companies I worked for, his comment was no different than other managers. He wasn't looking for the easy way out, instead of saying "I can't hire you because you aren't qualified" etc etc etc

As for my statement re: the necessity of a PhD in sales. I've grown tired of qualifying my forum replies on the various forums I frequent. There is almost always an exception to something somebody says. Forums weren't always like that in my opinion, but I digress.
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Re: How would you define a "PhD level" job?

Postby D.X. » Fri Sep 30, 2016 2:39 am

RGM wrote:
Kaylee wrote:
There's a lot of jobs that I'd like to do, but due to my PhD people think I will become bored, and look for another job. Unfortunately for me, they are quite wrong.

In fact, I was told in an interview by the manager "You'd be great, exactly what we are looking for, I could hire you. But given your background, you'd become bored after a few months and look for something else. You should go into sales". Right, because sales requires a PhD? It doesn't.


Hi RGM,

Whereas I can't oppose your view as it is based on your experiences, I do recommnend that you and others on the Forum don't relegate a decision/feedback by a hiring Manager due directly and only to the PhD degree and experience itself - especially after an interview! Remember you got called in to an interview with the hiring Manager fully knowing you had that.

Becareful on that Interpretation of the word "Background" as well as often many Folks including myself are not so good at choosing words or being fully clear. Background can also mean the full experience you're carrying and linked to your perceived outward personality.

I've been in your shoes before, and there are elements on of my personality and experience that would probably yield that same advice (Sales) if I were to apply for some highly process-driven operational roles with an element of routine work behind them. Guess maybe that's why i ended up on my career path. Nothing to do with a Phd.


So Sales..hmm...now if I could only get some experience!! I once sold a Refrigerator to an Eskimo - does that Count?

DX
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Re: How would you define a "PhD level" job?

Postby RGM » Fri Sep 30, 2016 2:58 pm

D.X. wrote:
RGM wrote:
Kaylee wrote:
There's a lot of jobs that I'd like to do, but due to my PhD people think I will become bored, and look for another job. Unfortunately for me, they are quite wrong.

In fact, I was told in an interview by the manager "You'd be great, exactly what we are looking for, I could hire you. But given your background, you'd become bored after a few months and look for something else. You should go into sales". Right, because sales requires a PhD? It doesn't.


Hi RGM,

Whereas I can't oppose your view as it is based on your experiences, I do recommnend that you and others on the Forum don't relegate a decision/feedback by a hiring Manager due directly and only to the PhD degree and experience itself - especially after an interview! Remember you got called in to an interview with the hiring Manager fully knowing you had that.

Becareful on that Interpretation of the word "Background" as well as often many Folks including myself are not so good at choosing words or being fully clear. Background can also mean the full experience you're carrying and linked to your perceived outward personality.

I've been in your shoes before, and there are elements on of my personality and experience that would probably yield that same advice (Sales) if I were to apply for some highly process-driven operational roles with an element of routine work behind them. Guess maybe that's why i ended up on my career path. Nothing to do with a Phd.


So Sales..hmm...now if I could only get some experience!! I once sold a Refrigerator to an Eskimo - does that Count?

DX


Trust me on this one, without going into all the details, it was due to my PhD. If I had a BS, he would have hired me. He told me so.
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