Take action

Once you've spent time reflecting, exploring, networking, and gaining experience to prepare for your future career, you'll be ready to take action and make decisions about your post-PhD professional life. Career Services is here to support you throughout this process.  

What's On This Page?

What's Next? | Action Steps Checklist | FAQs

What's Next?

As you navigate the application, interviewing, and negotiating processes, take advantage of Career Services to help you achieve your career goals. Check out our webpage devoted to your preparation for both faculty careers and careers beyond academia. 

Searching, Applying, Interviewing & Negotating

Action Steps Checklist

Below are suggested steps to follow as you get ready to search for and applying to jobs. Make an appointment with a Career Advisor via Handshake to discuss your job search plan. 

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Make appointments with Career Advisor via Handshake to discuss your job search, review your written job materials, and prepare for interviews and negotiations. 

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Search through relevant job ads to see what skills are commonly associated with each role you are interested in.

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Understand all of the terminology and language used in the job descriptions and be able to use them appropriately to describe your experiences.

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Connect the key skills and requirements listed in the job description with similar language used in your application materials to describe your experiences.

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Be prepared to answer the "tell me about yourself" question in a positive way that is relevant to a potential employer.

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Practice commonly asked interview questions by setting up your free InterviewStream account.

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Set up a mock interview at Career Services to practice behavioral-based questions.

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Understand what is appropriate to negotiate for in career fields that interest you.

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Know where to find salary information for jobs you are applying to, in order to be prepared to negotiate.

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Practice negotiating and making requests out loud and in a confident, professional tone of voice.

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Be confident in turning down a job if it turns out not to be the best fit for you, and doing so professionally and respectfully.

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Accept a job offer and complete Career Services' post-graduation career plans survey!

FAQs

Q: I am interested in many different careers and will be applying to jobs soon. How many
different kinds of roles should I focus on during my job search?
A: A job search where you're applying to anything and everything will certainly be difficult to manage. Depending on how similar the roles you're applying for are, we'd recommend that you apply to only a few to several distinct kinds of positions or career fields. This will allow you to focus on tailoring your application materials for each role. Different experiences are valued by different types of employers, and you may need to invest time gaining skills, experiences, and knowledge for one path that are very different to the other paths you might consider.
Q: How long can I expect my job search to take?
A: It's hard to predict, but generally the process from a job posting to hire date can range from a full year for academic positions to a few months for jobs beyond academia. The more time that you spend exploring your career options, networking, and gaining experience early in your PhD or postdoc, the more ready you'll be when it's time to take action.
Q: How do I make sure that I don't make the wrong decisions for my career?
A: For the most part, there aren't wrong decisions for your career, just different decisions. If you have multiple job offers, or even if you just need to make a decision on a job offer at hand, it's helpful to think through many factors, including whether the opportunity allows you to meet your overall career goals and your current needs. Meet with a Career Advisor, and we can help talk you through your decisions. The first job you take after leaving Penn will not be the only job you have, but it will be the start of your professional career path. This path can take many directions!
Q: What other resources are available to help me think about my career both in the short and
long term?
A: We recommend reading Carpe Careers, a weekly column in Inside Higher Education focused on career development for Ph.D. students and postdocs. Written by graduate career advisers, the Carpe Careers blog is an excellent source of information on the career exploration and planning process with over 140 posts on topics. Each post offers personal, optimistic, and actionable career advice for graduate students and postdocs.