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Three Better Ways to Find Your Future Career | Issue 298

Summary: Find your future dream job in as little as one hour per week by applying your internet skills. Let us show you how. 

Estimated read time: 5 minutes that can calm your career anxiety by focusing your efforts on real opportunities.


By Susan Martin, Ed.D.

Are you wondering what you will do after you finish your doctorate? Feeling puzzled or anxious about how to leverage your hard-earned degree for a satisfying career? 

What if you could do it painlessly in fifteen minutes a day? You can—and we'll show you how to figure it out by leveraging the internet, artificial intelligence, and your connections. 

Landing a great post-graduation job does not need to be an all-consuming project. We've broken it down into three sequential phases: (1) know yourself, (2) research potential careers, and (3) apply for positions. 

If you missed our article on Phase One, "Know Yourself," you might benefit from a quick look now. In it you will find tools for clarifying your assets and aspirations to help you pinpoint areas of best fit and avoiding costly detours. Once you have identified fields that resonate with you, it's time to move to the next step, detailed below. 

"When you know yourself, you are empowered. When you accept yourself, you are invincible." ~ Tina Lifford  |  Tweet this

How to avoid regret.

No matter how clear your current career goal is, you can benefit from career research. Whether aiming at an academic job, the private sector, or a government post—or have no idea—you should follow the same process spelled out below. 


Are you already committed to a specific career path? Avoid the temptation to skip this. Omitting this step will deprive you of in-depth knowledge needed to launch a successful and focused job search. You will also likely be less effective in translating your skills and experiences to non-academic employers, who will thus pass over your resume. 


You can sidestep all these pitfalls by investigating your possibilities now. Consider it an investment that will save you time and frustration in the long run by building a strong foundation for a successful search. 


You'll be relieved to discover that researching your future direction turns out to be much easier than doing a dissertation. Furthermore, it can be accomplished in small manageable chunks that will build your knowledge, confidence, and motivation. 


You can get a search underway right now with nothing more than an internet connection. As we will explain, in addition to traditional online searches, you can also harness the power of artificial intelligence and professional groups to speed you on your way. 

Use the funnel approach to web browsing.

Never underestimate the value of a simple online search. Beginning an online search resembles starting a new literature review. What a great opportunity for you to apply your well-honed scholarly skills on your own behalf. 

I recommend adopting a funnel approach: Start broadly to get an overview, narrowing as you proceed. As you explore, you'll gain familiarity with terminology. You'll start making connections. You'll also be able to identify themes and credible information sources. 


You might begin with a broad search terms such as "Top careers for PhDs" or "most in-demand careers" or and "fastest growing industries for the future." Or you could ask, "What are the best careers in industry for PhDs?" Tweak as you wish and explore the results. 


You'll find that certain careers get frequent mention, e.g., data science, researcher, statistician, cyber security, grant writers, web developers, project managers, editors. Pause and notice what grabs your interest; pursue a deeper understanding of those particular career paths. Keep an open and curious mind. 


"What if none of the search results resonate with my area of study or discipline?" you may ask. While you can start with a broad term, e.g., Humanities or Biological Science, you can now redefine your search with more specific terms related to your field. Then keep sharpening your searches to dig deeper into one or more career areas of interest or industries, e.g., program managers in non-profit organizations. 


Your web searches will produce links to association websites, free online guides, and recent articles discussing professional trends. Take advantage of these information sources to increase your general knowledge about types of positions in the career path, typical career progression in the field, training and skills requirements and salary ranges. 

Let artificial intelligence do some preliminary searching.

Now more popular than TikTok, ChatGPT claims the title of fastest growing app of all time. An artificial intelligence platform based on natural language, it answers user queries by scraping the internet for information, providing neatly organized information in seconds. 


While you may find it useful in researching jobs, be aware that using ChatGPT to produce academic work may be restricted or prohibited at your institution. To avoid serious consequences (e.g., failure and/or expulsion), consult relevant policies and guidelines at your university and adhere to them. (For a discussion of ChatGPT's perceived impact on higher education, including its perils and potentials, see this recent article in The Hill.) 


With that caveat, now feel free to leverage AI to investigate career paths. In this sense, it resembles a web search, and thus does not violate academic ethics. You can access ChatGPT by registering for free at Then ask it questions like the following to get a preliminary perspective on your career areas of interest: 

  • What does a [insert career] do? 

  • What are the current trends in [insert industry or career]? 

  • What careers are related to my interest in [insert interest]? 

  • What is the salary range for [insert career]? 

As with web browsing, stay curious and continue to refine your questions. Also check the answers as ChatGPT has been known to invent information. You can even ask Siri or Alexa for career facts. 

The website ImaginePhD also offers additional powerful tools for identifying and researching potential career paths that align with your interests and skills. The goal is to discover career leads that engage and inspire you. 

"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it." ~ Maya Angelou  |  Tweet this

Get connected and informed if you want to get hired.

Finally, search LinkedIn for groups associated with careers you are considering. For example a search for "educational leadership" or "climate change groups" reveals over one thousand groups. Choose a few with a geographic or topical focus that resonates with you and actively follow the conversation. Notice any themes in the discussion and review the profiles of those who post regularly. 

If you do not already have a LinkedIn account, this is an opportune time to do so. Go to the LinkedIn home page at, click on the "join now" button" in the center of the page and follow the instructions. Later you might want to create a full profile and expand your network in order to take full advantage of LinkedIn as a job search tool, but for now, it's fine to just follow a few groups.

Networking Heads' Up

When you finish your online research, LinkedIn and other networking channels will matter greatly. While your web work provides a solid foundation, it cannot give you a complete picture of what it is really like to work in a particular job. To fully understand the nuances of any career, you need to talk with professionals already in the field by conducting a series of "informational interviews" using best practices. You will need some kind of network to find them. 

What will you do today?

Remember, taking small steps now will provide clarity, inspiration, and possibly inner peace regarding your post-graduation trajectory. Which of the following will you take today? 

  • (5 minutes) Get a blank journal to dedicate to your career research. Paper is recommended so you can write, doodle. Make it enjoyable with colored markers or pencils. Use your journal to record questions, notes, reflections, insights, future action items and track your research progress. 

  • (15-30 minutes) Do your own quick online search or use ChatGPT to begin learning about top jobs for PhDs, fast growing industries and in demand careers. Note any insights in your journal. 

  • (20 minutes) Do a quick search for LinkedIn groups related to one career area you are considering. Join at least one and turn on the notifications so you can follow the activity in the group and review the profiles of those who are posting. 


In our next installment, we'll share our best tips on how to apply for positions. Meanwhile, harness your curiosity and love of learning to make the most of this exploratory stage. 


"Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will." ~ Suzy Kassem  |  Tweet this


Discover how positive psychology dissertation coaching can facilitate your dissertation completion and career design. Request your free consultation here


Susan Martin, Ed.D. provides specialized career, dissertation, and life coaching to people with or pursuing doctoral degrees. She has supported thousands of diverse graduate, undergraduate, and adult learners to achieve their educational and career goals. Dr. Martin also designed and delivered career services for doctoral students in 80 academic programs at the University of Maryland. View her LinkedIn profile or visit her website at Smart Career Design, LLC, for additional resources. You may contact her at



If you are considering whether to get your own coach to help you reach your academic goals, fill out this brief application for a free consultation with a dissertation coach.

An accomplished coach, workshop leader, keynote speaker, and educator, Gayle earned her doctorate in social psychology from the University of New Hampshire. Her deep expertise in positive psychology allows her to help clients build their personal strengths, positive habits, and confidence to overcome procrastination, self-doubts and other blocks in order to reach vital academic and personal goals. In addition to editing the ABD Survival Guide, she contributed two chapters to the positive psychology anthology, Women's Paths to Happiness. Contact her at for coaching, presentations, and workshops on thriving in graduate school and beyond, and find free resources

BEN DEAN, Publisher, ABDSG
Ben holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He began writing the ABDSG in 1997. Over the years, the ABDSG has published hundreds of articles and provided thousands of hours of pro bono coaching and teleworkshops to ABDs all over the world. Ben is also the founder of MentorCoach (, a virtual university focused on training accomplished professionals to become part-time or full-time coaches. You may wish to subscribe to the Coaching Toward Happiness eNewsletter! It's on applying the science of Positive Psychology to your work and life (131,000 readers). Ben lives in suburban Maryland with his wife, Janice, their two children, and Dusty, their Norwegian dwarf bunny.



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