If you’re currently associated with a subscribing institution, and you want to learn how to network outside of your academic circles, you can and should use two Versatile PhD features: Hiring Success Stories, and Power Search.
Hiring Success Stories are complete dossiers of winning application documents that got real PhDs real nonacademic jobs. You’ve probably seen them on the right side of all of the pages in the PhD Career Finder:
Each one consists of all the key documents (resume, cover letter, etc.), and importantly, a first-person narrative analysis explaining exactly how the person got hired. If networking played a role in the hire, the narrative will describe how.
(If you’re signed in but are blocked from accessing a Hiring Success Story or the Power Search feature, it means you need to pass through your institution’s authentication portal to reinstate your access upgrade. Find your institution’s portal on this list and authenticate yourself as directed. Word of warning: not all of our partner institutions subscribe to both the Humanities/Social Science content and the STEM content. The list at that link shows what’s available to you.)
Many of the hiring successes described in the VPhD collection involved networking at some level. As you review them, you’ll find many examples that hinge on networking. You will be amazed at the variety of people and relationships that can play into a hire: friends, neighbors, fellow students, even random guests at birthday parties. In some cases, the successful applicant was lucky and succeeded despite not having a conscious plan for networking; in other cases, the person was extremely strategic about it, choosing which events to attend and which people to informational interview.
In addition to the content, there is a feature on VPhD that can be extremely helpful where networking is concerned: Power Search. For users who have validated their connection to a subscribing institution, in the Member Directory there is a yellow Power Search button prominently placed near the top of the page.Click on Power Search and you will see a search form that allows you to search for VPhD members meeting multiple criteria at once. For example, historians working in the nonprofit sector in Chicago, or life scientists working in industry in San Francisco.
Why is that so great? Because those people make excellent informational interviewees! The folks who pop up in Power Search results are all Versatile PhD members, meaning they have all gone through the same transition you’re going through (or are thinking about), and would probably be glad to connect with you. Don’t be concerned about whether the person attended your institution. It doesn’t matter. VPhD members are generally happy to help regardless of institutional affiliation. The most important factor: is the person in a field you want to enter? If so, definitely contact them. Members can be contacted by private message on VPhD. And the same applies to Hiring Success Story authors, Career Autobiography authors, and Panel Discussion members!
Bottom line: The narratives in the Hiring Success Stories contain a treasure trove of specific networking examples and can be very inspiring, and the Power Search feature provides instant access to fantastic people who can help you.