Silencing self-criticism & redefining ‘success’: maintaining mental health in your post-PhD job hunt

Silencing self-criticism & redefining ‘success’: maintaining mental health in your post-PhD job hunt

By: phdcareersholly, February 27 2023

  • Why would employers outside of academia ever want to hire me?
  • Why does trying to navigate the application process make me feel… stupid?
  • Should I feel like a failure?!?

Found yourself contemplating these questions when looking to job hunt beyond academia? Then read on…

We thought about this for a while, and how approaching the job market beyond academia is like going from a world where details and definitions really matter, to a confusing world of grey areas, where ‘essential requirements’ may not be so ‘essential’ after all. Here are some of the ways we found this mindset might impact mental health in the post-PhD job hunt:

  • Difficulties filling in applications, and working out what the questions ‘really mean.’ Fawzi recalled one example: a form asked me to ‘describe my latest employment.’ Technically I didn’t have a job at the time, and I agonised for so long over whether I could describe my PREVIOUS employment instead. Of course now I know that using your most recent experience is totally fine – all they want to know is that you have relevant skills – but I didn’t know that at the time. It’s a great point… academia demands that we define our terms precisely, so when the meaning of even one word is unclear, this can cause anxiety.
  • ‘Essential and desirable’ criteria. We can feel really disparaged if we don’t tick all the essential and desirable criteria for a job. Back then, I didn’t realise that this was a ‘wish-list’ rather than a set of absolutes, Fawzi explains. And in fairness… why would we realise this…? Essential means essential, right? Well… not necessarily. This really made me think… perhaps on this blog I should look at putting together a glossary maybe, demystifying the language of the job hunt…?!

Read the full article here for learning the conclusion as well as steps you can take in your job search process.

By David Cota-Buckhout
David Cota-Buckhout Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement and Career Support