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Job Hunting Tips

Glassdoor for PhD students.

Glassdoor is another great search engine to help you find the exact career you’re looking for. Additional insights such as company reviews, salaries, additional benefits, and the interview process can further inform you in your post-PhD job search.

When it comes to job hunting at the end of your PhD there’s a lot of different approaches and strategies to take. Should you network, should you use LinkedIn, how do you manage the job search stress, the list continues. Ultimately, the best way to maximise your post-PhD career success is to use as many tools as possible. The goal is about adopting a growth mindset and identifying as many opportunities as possible, the more platforms and tools you use the higher chance that you’ll find a job that you love. In a previous post on this blog, we’ve already covered LinkedIn – this is probably the most common and familiar tool you want to use. LinkedIn is the most widely used tool by recruiters, so if you want to be ‘found’, it’s integral to have a digital space on LinkedIn. Another platform that you find useful is Glassdoor.

Glassdoor isn’t as widely known as LinkedIn, but it’s still big and popular. Glassdoor boasts 50million monthly visitors, 70million reviews of companies, and a user base of 1.3million employers. Furthermore, Glassdoor has pretty good coverage, operating across Northern America, Europe, India, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Argentina.

To put it simply, Glassdoor’s mission is to help people find a job and company they love. They achieve this by providing a platform (that’s free) where employees can rate and review their current jobs. Taking this into consideration, if you’re coming from an academic background with limited experience in industry or you have fears about picking the wrong job post-PhD, Glassdoor can help mitigate some of these concerns. When registering for a free Glassdoor account you’re asked to provide information about where you currently work, such as salary and how fond you are of the position or company CEO. As they’ve acquired such a large user base, this provides a significant amount of insight into almost every company – particularly the larger ones.

If you’ve got thoughts about going into consultancy after your PhD and have looked at a few consultancy firms, but at the same time are a bit hesitant because it’s a world you’re not familiar with or you’ve heard horror stories, Glassdoor can give you a more detailed insight. Glassdoor provides a summary of how likely someone working for a particular company would recommend them to a friend (e.g., at time of writing, 81% would recommend JP Morgan to a friend). It also provides a summary of how much someone approves of the CEO (e.g., at time of writing, 86% of people approve of Elon Musk as the CEO of Tesla). These are useful insights to help provide a quick overview of where you want to apply for.

In addition to the overview of the company as a whole, you’re also able to see individual reviews (similar to the ones you have to fill out when registering an account) for any company of interest. What’s great is that Glassdoor then provides a summary of the pros and cons of the reviews. So, if terms like ‘long hours’ or ‘no work-life balance’ appear frequently in the reviews it will collate these, so you don’t have to check out every review individually. It also does the same for pros, so if things like ‘great benefits’ and ‘good working environment’ come up a lot you’ll be sure to see it. This is probably the best information to leverage when deciding if you should or shouldn’t apply or take a job at a particular company. Essentially, more information can help you make a more informed decision. Glassdoor also provides information on the salaries for positions.

If you’re applying for a role that doesn’t have a salary advertised, consider checking on Glassdoor first. Glassdoor provides a breakdown of the salaries for each job, across each company, which have been provided by Glassdoor account users (again it collates that information you fill out when registering). This can help to make sure you’re applying for careers that align with your post-PhD salary goals, or at least prepare you for salary negotiations during the interview process.

Other great features Glassdoor provides is more detailed information about the interview process and any additional benefits the company provides to their staff. This might include flexible working, sick pay, private healthcare, paternity/maternity leave and so on. Again, useful to think about if you want to ensure you’re picking a career that aligns with your life values. Glassdoor even have their own posts on how to find the perfect company for you.

Outside of the review set-up Glassdoor provides, it can also operate similar to LinkedIn. Here you can upload a CV, a list of your skills, and even let employers know you’re open to opportunities. As mentioned at the start of the post, you want to make sure you leverage as many tools to assist you as possible. Glassdoor also provide support on how to put a great CV together. If you’ve already put a LinkedIn profile together, it wouldn’t do any harm to also do the same on Glassdoor – just to spread yourself across as many platforms as possible.

Glassdoor also has job opportunities listed and advertised. You can simply search for ‘PhD student’ or ‘PhD in [your subject area]’ and it will return a list of jobs that list that in the title or job description. This can give you a really good idea of what your PhD directly translates into. Please take this with a pinch of salt, especially if you’re coming from a non-STEM background or want to career change away from your PhD field. Most jobs that you’re more than capable of doing won’t require or specify a particular PhD, which means you’re likely to overlook these roles if you don’t tailor your searches properly. This blog is all about your transferable skills and mapping them to different careers. If you haven’t already, it’s recommended to identify your transferable skills first and try searching those within Glassdoor or Google instead. Similarly, you want to use terms that are more readily used within industry. If you know you have great project management skills, you’re better off searching for jobs that have ‘project management’ in them somewhere. If you know you love problem-solving, try searching for job titles that require a lot of problem-solving, like consultant. If you know you have good data skills, try searching for titles like ‘data analyst’ or ‘data scientist’. You get the idea. Use the language employers would use.  

Keep it simple and use everyday language.

The final point to mention when using Glassdoor is to be mindful of the data you’re looking at. For smaller companies and start-ups, they may not exist on Glassdoor. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply, but you might need to do some extra digging to get more information you need. If a small company does show up on Glassdoor, be mindful that with a smaller number of reviews it’s easy for the reviews to get skewed – both positively and negatively. If a smaller company looks slightly worse than the average or what you’d expect, still consider it. People are more likely to talk about their negative experiences than the good ones, which means all the reviews are likely to be negatively biased to some degree. For medium size to big size companies, be mindful of how they get the reviews. Although it happens rarely, some companies get interview candidates or recent new hires who are starting training to complete a Glassdoor review. Of course, Glassdoor prevents companies from deleting reviews, but some may deliberately try and engineer good reviews. With most things, if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is, and so you should be cautious. Pay slightly more attention to the reviews, usually things get mentioned but it can be hard to spot them when there’s thousands of them.

Finally, remember that Glassdoor is just a tool to support your decision making, not dictate your future for you. Use it as a rough guide, or to eliminate some options if you have to many. With all this extra information it can put you in a state of analysis paralysis and procrastination – it’s always better to apply, throw your hat in the ring and decide whether you want the job after or not. Happy job hunting!


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