Posts Tagged ‘demographics’

PhD’s at the Crossroads: Career Counseling and Coaching for a New Direction

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

MCDA Newsletter – April, 2019

Universities are producing PhDs in record numbers in all disciplines. It’s exciting to have all this brain power!  We have phenomenal technologies and research coming from university labs, while our PhDs are being groomed to continue their research and teaching. Yet, according to Nature, while the number of academic PhDs has jumped by 150%, the number of tenured and other full-time faculty positions has declined. Full-time professorship positions are being replaced with much cheaper part-time, adjunct, and contract professorship positions. (Yes, Universities are businesses, too.)

What’s happening to our most highly educated people?

In the US, many end up with entry-level jobs and never catch-up to their potential earnings. Others tap their independence and courage to start their own businesses. Yet others land lucrative roles in business, non-profits and public service.

  • For PhDs in the field of English there are more teaching jobs overseas. Across the entire discipline, creative writing is the only field in which aggregate job postings has doubled over the past 20 years.
  • Many in the STEM fields complete their degree in the US and return to their home countries.
  • In 13 European countries PhDs in social sciences and humanities increase their wages by moving to a different country.  “The long way to professorship in Germany and the relatively low income of German academic staff makes leaving the university after the PhD a good option,” says Thorsten Wilhelmy, who studies doctoral education for the German Council of Science and Humanities in Cologne..

So what’s a newly minted PhD to do?

How many post docs can they afford? When they cannot find another academic job how do they handle the ‘disloyalty’ to their mentors/professors?  Some of these clients have invested in their PhD as their second career; others have never been outside of academia.

My interest in this population has come from working with clients in a variety of fields from astrophysics to psychology to theater. Working with this population has taken me back to my grad school roots in career counseling and career development theories. Several years ago I co-authored CareerScope for American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and worked with of several cohorts of up to 70 non-tenured PhDs who were hungry for a sense of direction.

Typically a client comes to me wanting help with a CV or wanting some guidance on job search. (Sound familiar?) As you have already deduced, a major part of helping these clients lies in helping them translate their highest academic qualification in American education into transferable skills that are valued by employers. Our role as career counselors and coaches is to help them see that a PhD is not just as the mastery of a discipline, but also training of the mind.

A key question about a resume or CV is, “Who is the intended audience?” This starts the critical conversation about their job search and career goals. A simple question or two that probe their reasons for their academic research can illuminate a whole new way of thinking for them. When I help them explore their original reasons for pursuing their studies, there’s often a “mission” deeply embedded that can drive their career direction.

With these clients we see the gap between the academic and the business mindset. To be able to speak the language of business on their resume and in their next job, they need an overview of how basic business works. They don’t need another degree, but often prefer the comfort of taking online courses. Using this knowledge we can help them map their expertise and related skill into how they can be problem solvers for an organization. (The initiative to learn the business is a plus when interviewing). We can explore their desire to continue (or not) to grow their bench skills.

Many of my PhD clients aren’t familiar with the world of work and thus, spend entirely too much time looking at job boards. We can help them use their analytical skills and natural curiosity to explore the world of work. I love to hear, “You’ve changed my entire way of thinking!” “I never would have considered these options!” We look at five different role options and determine which one(s) are best for them now and in the future. This helps in re-inventing their professional identity that builds upon their academic achievements.

To address the demand of jobs for grads, universities are filling their career portals with interviews of alums telling their stories and advice for other PhD job seekers. Many portals offer a structured approach (aka protocol) for job search activities. Similar portals are found with professional associations, federal agencies, and large non-profits. CareerOnestop has professional association links.

A number of enterprising PhDs have used their own experiences to form membership communities to help PhDs find lucrative work outside of academia. They not only offer job search skills, but also connections and introductions to the variety of career paths others are on.

I invite you to join in this discussion on May 16th 2019 at 12:00pm EDT in the webinar; PhD’s at the Crossroads: Career Counseling and Coaching for a New Direction. My goal is to validate what you are doing well with your PhD clients, provide a different lens for working with this population and to share resources for both you and your clients. (NCBB CEUs eligible). Register today while there are still spots left! A recording will be available afterwards.

What’s Your Professional Development Strategy?

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Fall treesThe most frequent responses I get to this question is #1 Strategy: keep getting a paycheck and hope to get promoted;#2 Strategy for Free Agents: Keep current contract(s) or get new clients.

I consider these non-strategies. Too many people approach learning something work-related as a task they have to do to keep their jobs or maintain a profession credential. They need an external incentive and are not motivated by curiosity or a desire to improve processes, services or products.

For those that enjoy keeping up with trends and new thinking for the sake of contributing to making their work better, they often:

  • Surf the net for bright shiny topics
  • Read blogs, take webinars that look interesting
  • Join professional associations, attend occasional gatherings
  • Actually participate in professional associations by not only attending, but also volunteering for projects or committees.

OR…

You COULD spend a few minutes to think about your long term work/career goals and what professional credentials or skills and competencies you need to keep up-to-date. Do you need to create or update your brand? Using this as a foundation, you can select and focus on those activities and opportunities that will give you the best bang for your buck.

“My profession doesn’t outline specific continuing education requirements. How do I do that?”  There are a couple of options:

Pay attention to the issues and trends that are driving business decisions for your organization and department. Cost-cutting will always be a factor, so look at how you and others could achieve organizational objectives faster, better, cheaper? New laws, regulations and technology changes tend to change the way things get done. What could you become the go-to person for? What interpersonal skills could you develop to improve your professional relationships in an increasingly diverse workforce? Check both the internal and external websites to see what your organization values. Many organizations have resources that outline career competencies and for creating your personal development plan to contribute to their highly competitive knowledge bank.

If you want to make a career change, map your steps to making that change and set up your support system to achieve it. Updating your resume will be a part of it, but first, you might have to do some research beyond surfing job boards. Identify required credentials or knowledge through job descriptions and taking with people in the roles. Use your social media to connect with others in that line of work for a reality check and advice and to stay on their radar when opportunities come up. Build your experience by volunteering.

Is time that you invest in yourself to enjoy a more rewarding career?

New Course for Career Professionals Working with Mature Job Seekers

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Marvin Adams and I have teamed up to create a professional development course for career professionals, “Winning Strategies for the Mature Job Seeker,” at CEUOnestop.  This self-paced, online course looks at the unique issues that older clients face as more and more people are looking for work. Career professionals will find information, resources and links to websites that provide insight and tips for dealing with the perceptions, myths and realities of being over 50 and looking for work today. ( 4 CEUs)

Many people feel that age is just a state of mind, so there really aren’t any new challenges for the older job seeker.  And Age discrimination is illegal. So what’s the problem?  For most people, of any age, a well-defined job search strategy is the key to finding a great job.  Yet, people who have lost jobs after 20+ years or working are quite lost when it comes to present-day job search tools and strategies.  Fold in the assumptions and biases that both older and younger workers hold about people nearing retirement and you have a recipe for conflict and angst.

Career professionals can look at these assumptions and the research that provides facts and data to create their own strategies for coaching older clients.  Remembering that “perceptions are real,” too many people operate on their own limited knowledge, experience or relationships with older people.  Several reputable organizations have published research dispelling assumptions about low energy, poor health, technology averse or out-of-date skills, to name a few. We can help our clients leverage the benefits of a long work experience by reframing them in terms that meet employer’s needs today.  We can probe for the transferable skills of unpaid activities that employers now crave.  We can coach them to counter age discriminatory beliefs by developing examples of their work ethic, dependability, problem-solving and their results-oriented focus. Through understanding this generation cohorts’ resiliency, we can help them overcome self-limiting beliefs, create tenacious job seeking strategies and become valuable assets of the workforce.                    

Learn to Learn

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

When I keep doing what I always do, why do I think it will have a different result?

This bit of insanity applies to  many aspects of our lives. But let’s look at just one. We do our jobs well and manage the constant winds of change. Like a sailing a boat we know how to stay upright and navigate the personalities and glitches of the day.  But we often don’t see the storm clouds on the horizon until it’s too late.   A common competency found in most public and private sector organizations involves being able to see what knowledge and skills will be needed to handle the future storms of opportunity.  If we don’t learn new skills (not only technology, but those related to your organization’s work and mission) then we’re not ready to step up to the new challenges.  I worked with several organizations that  are shifting from mechanical to digital arenas.  This means that the skill sets of  people working with machines and parts will need to include computer skills. Look at automobile maintenance that now requires a computer read-out.  Even our money is now being printed digitally now.

Don’t wait until your next performance assessment to have a conversation with your boss.  Tell her what types of interests or aspirations you have for moving up or around in your organization.  Ask her what she sees as the most valuable skills your organization needs. If your boss isn’t available to have this conversation, step back and take a look at the hot issues impacting your organization or profession. For example, if the demographics of your customer base changing, you could learn a second (or third) language. Take a course or seminar; get some training to contribute solving these issues.  Volunteer for committees or task forces to practice your skills and knowledge so you don’t lose what you just learned.  Technology has made a lot or resources available to us that we just have to tickle the keyboard to find. And many are free or low cost.  Your organization may have a training or tuition reimbursement budget you can tap.

Derrick Dortch talks to federal workers encouraging them to get some training in order to advance in their careers and offering some places to start.

 

A Peek Into Your Crystal Ball

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Our Future Selves is an interactive look into the crystal ball of our future.  From the Columbia University Grad School of Journalism, you can see at what your future will look like for the next 50 or so years.  This is an easy to use graphic depiction of ethnicity, health and wealth data to see how we may fare in our part of the world.

Few changes will have as seismic an effect on the United States as the rate at which it’s growing old. The unprecedented proportion of older adults means change in every corner of our lives: our families, our workplaces, our communities. Columbia News21’s Brave Old World site, going live on August 15, looks at our collective future.

So what does this mean to me? It says I really do need to learn Spanish, stop eating those wonderful salty oatmeal cookies, and add some more walking and yoga practice. With further thought, I can see opportunities for working with the people around me in my future based on their demographic needs.

Enter your data and see what’s in store for you.  Thanks, Jason Alcorn, Michael Keller and Emily Liedel, fellows at Columbia University.