Pitfalls to avoid when looking for work after a PhD in the Netherlands
As a start, when looking for job opportunities after a PhD, there are some pitfalls you would rather avoid.
Have you ever tried searching vacancy websites using words like PhD or PhD and your field of study. Did that yield many results? In my case, it didn’t. Historians with PhDs are not asked for explicitly. So Pitfall # 1 is to think that nobody is waiting for you because you don’t exactly see your profile reflected in job ads. Just because your PhD degree is not literally asked for does not mean that employers cannot appreciate your qualities or that a job does not suit you.
You naturally want work that you enjoy doing. Pitfall # 2 is to only look for jobs without thinking about who you are, what you are good at and what you want. To get a complete picture of your possibilities and desires in the job market, it is smart to look beyond your PhD subject or discipline. What are your qualities? Which values are important to you? What activities give you energy? In what kind of environment do you flourish?
- Maybe you are someone who understands students’ perceptions very well and are sure you want to work with this target group?
- Perhaps, you are someone who wants to improve the world and you want your work to have real impact?
- Or, possibly you have a love for writing, and you want be creative every day?
- Maybe you are someone who gets a lot of energy from cleaning datasets and you would actually like to spend your whole days doing that?
- Or, perhaps you are someone who revives when she goes to conferences and would like to be surrounded by people in the future?
In short, so many PhDs, so many angles from which to start your job search. What I want to say is that you yourself are always the most important starting point, because the work that makes one PhD happy may not suit another.
Image: Jonas Jacobson
Starting points for your job search
Finally, would you like inspiration for your job search?
- Start with yourself: become aware of what you find important in work. Ask someone to help you who does not know your research and who may even have studied something completely different. Let the other person ask many questions. What did you do during your PhD (in your research and in everyday work)? What do you get energy from? Stop only when the other person can really imagine what your strengths are and what makes you happy. This exercise helps to find words for what is so obvious to you or what, until now, you could only express in jargon.
- Get started with this values exercise.
- See what jobs others took after a PhD. LinkedIn’s search function lends itself perfectly to this. For example, go to your research school and see what alumni have listed there as their current job description.
- Do you find it difficult to imagine the jobs you see mentioned? Put on your brave shoes and conduct an interview. Set the bar low for yourself in doing so: you want to know what it is like to do this work. You don’t need to land a job right away.