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Transitioning from research into corporate -

lessons learned from the 2getthere application training


Fewer than 15 seconds is the average time a recruiter looks at a resume. Researchers who seek corporate jobs must switch from touting their publications, awards and citations to stressing the value they bring to a team effort. In the framework of its 2getthere mentoring programme, EURAXESS Luxembourg organised a workshop dedicated to young researchers on how to achieve a successful move from academia to corporate.

Christian Walter, Team Leader Recruitment at the University of Luxembourg, shared his experience on the importance of networking, how to translate a research topic into plain terms, and how to write a compelling CV and cover letter during the second workshop organised for mentees in the framework of our mentoring programme 2getthere.


Networking is the number-one thing for getting any job

Have you ever considered connecting with your recruiter on LinkedIn ahead of an interview? It's worth investing some time to do some online research to find out more about your recruiter. This includes the companies they've worked for and how long they've been in their current position.

When you approach a hiring manager before an interview, not only do you show your sense of initiative but also your interest. Moreover, it is an excellent opportunity to express your communication skills. Assuming that the conversation flows naturally, the recruiter is likely to positively remember you when reading your application. This is your first step in getting your CV to the top of the pile.

Generally speaking, networking is a great opportunity to make a new contact, which simultaneously gives you access to all the contacts that a person has made. Your skills or expertise may be relevant to someone your contact knows.


Highlighting transferable skills can make all the difference

Doctoral researchers who consider working in corporate need to translate what they have learned during their PhD journey into skills and expertise that will be attractive to a company. They should also identify their professional strengths and talents, such as communication and management skills that go beyond laboratory proficiency and scientific skills.

Transitioning from academia to corporate often entails a cultural change or even a shock. But PhDs have it all! Christian Walter, Team Leader Recruitment at the University of Luxembourg

Most employers have a misconception of what a researcher can perform, e.g. they are believed to have poor communication skills, low business awareness, limited interpersonal and teamwork skills. Therefore, it is crucial for PhD students to convert their academic achievements into concrete qualities for a company on paper and during the job interview.

The STAR method is a useful tool to respond to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing. Find e.g. more explanations about this method here.


Experience may count more than education in a resume

An academic CV and a non-academic resume are two distinctly different working documents. While an academic CV highlights your expertise in your field and your academic achievements, a resume is a bespoke document that focuses on results rather than achievements. What you aim to when writing your resume is to show how you fit into a specific role. It’s all about selling the benefits of hiring you.

In short:

  • Make your resume readable by breaking up the content with subheadings

  • Give a clear overview of relevant work experience - list the relevant experience / activities / projects using bullet points and indicating the main responsibilities and skills related to the requirements of the job description

  • Exclude experience not related to the vacancy

  • Be selective in your list of courses

  • Give a clear overview of your training by putting it in reverse chronological order (last one first) and using clear time periods (month/year)

  • Convert your lists of publications, posters and presentations into your soft skills

  • Cut abbreviations and scientific terms

Employers want people who are able to identify problems accurately, decide which problem needs to be solved first and actually solve the problem. As a PhD, you are qualified to do all this! Now, it’s just a matter of how you’ll communicate it...