/lib-works

Learn, Imagine, Build
Geoff Messier's Projects & Ideas

How to Land an Industry Job

When you go through an MSc or PhD program, you acquire a lot of skills that are very useful in industry. However, it’s important to “sell” those skills properly since some industry employers don’t always appreciate the benefits of hiring someone with an advanced degree. This page contains some advice on how to do this.

NOTE: The advice is useful when applying for a ‘regular’ industry job only. If you are applying for an advanced research position or an academic research job, the way you create your CV and market yourself is totally different than what is described on this page.

The Problems

Industry employers sometimes hesitate to hire an MSc or PhD grad. They may say things like:

In order to be attractive to an industry employer, you need to intentionally counter each of these sentiments.

Overcoming those Hurdles

Concentrate on Your Skills

While publications are extremely valuable in the research community, they are not well understood or used in industry. You need to make sure your CV promotes the skills you have that are valuable to an industry employer, not simply list your publications.

Do graduate students have skills that are useful in industry? Of course! Graduate degrees are challenging and very technical. While completing one, you will have gained the following skills:

This is a general list of skills. You need to create one for yourself. In addition to these general skills, you should also be able to come up with a number of specific technical things. Things like:

When listing your skills, always try to state specifically what you did. Statements like “Proficient in C/C++.” are not useful.

Be Aware of Your Limitations

While a graduate degree is overall very valuable, it is possible to pick up some bad habits that will turn off a potential industry employer.

Learn About Your Employer

Before you apply for any job, you need must research both the company and the position. Ask yourself:

If you get an interview, it always makes a good impression on your employer to be able to ask questions about the company.

Focus Your CV

Academic CV’s are many pages long (often 30 or 40 if you’re a professor). If you are applying for an industry position, your CV should be a maximum of 2 pages. Even this short, a busy employer may not read your CV in detail. You need to put your most important points in front so that a busy reader will see them first.

What is an employer looking for in a CV? Things like:

Remember, a clear CV that is focused on what the employer is looking for demonstrates that you are able to understand they key things important to the employers business.

General Tips

Resources

On Campus

Career Services

Workshops such as mock interviews are very helpful to gain feedback and confidence. There is also helpful material under the above link, including YouTube videos of the workshop presentations. Be sure to sign up well in advance as workshops can fill up quickly.

The Science and Engineering Career Fair happens every September and the Career Expo happens every February. Be sure to target companies beforehand to use your time efficiently and be able to ask intelligent questions.

Websites

Ask the Headhunter

APEGA Salary Survey