Searching for a Non-Academic Job

As a graduate student you have developed and demonstrated entrepreneurial skills: taking the initiative to research resources, pursuing a particular topic, and making a commitment of time and energy to a project. Use these skills to take charge of your job search.

Four Stages of the Job Search

  1. Identify trends in the marketplace
  2. Know your product (you)
  3. Identify market niches for your product
  4. Target market strategies

Identify Trends in the Marketplace

  • What are the current trends of the market place?
  • What are the "hot" careers?
  • What skills are employers are looking for?

Read articles involving job trends and the future of the job market. The Career Services Library has books on job trends as well as up-to-date magazine articles.

Know and Develop Your Product

Taking time to look at who you are is an important step in the job search process. It is necessary to understand who you are so that you can make appropriate decisions in finding a career that is a good "fit" for you. In addition, knowing yourself helps you better sell yourself to employers.

  • What are your values, priorities, and goals?
  • What are your interests?
  • What are your skills?
  • Which skills are transferable?

There are several good books in the Career Services Library to guide you through self-assessment exercises.

  • What Color is Your Parachute? Richard Bolles
  • In Transition: Harvard Business School Career Management Seminar — Mary Burton and Richard Wedemeyer
  • Outside the Ivory Tower: Guide for Academics Considering Alternative Careers — Margaret Newhouse

Skills of a graduate student:

  • Ability to implement, manage, and complete complex research projects
  • Ability to frame the problem and thus problem solve
  • Analytical and research skills
  • Take initiative
  • Teamwork
  • Ability to motivate and counsel
  • Deal with complex material and make it understandable
  • Resourceful, determined, and persistent
  • Teaching/presenting
  • Hard working

Identify Market Niches for Your Product

Once you have identified the product "you," the next step is to identify markets for the product. What career fields would value what your product has to offer? Where is there a good fit for you? This takes time to research several different career fields. How do you go about finding about career fields? Talk to as many people as possible, read books on the professions, if possible get some experience through an internship. 

  • Alumni Career Advisors — A listing of graduate and undergraduate alums in various career fields who are willing to talk to students about their professions.
  • Books — Read about different fields.
  • Internships — Get some practical experience in a field to know if it is a good fit. This also makes you a stronger candidate with employers who see you have some relevant work experience.

Target Market Design: Job Search Strategies

The actual job search requires you to rely on your entrepreneurial skills. Be resourceful, scan for opportunities, and make an investment with your time and energy. You are in charge of creating your own self-marketing campaign.

Where to Start

  • Networking — Talk with family, friends, faculty, staff, and alumni. Let everyone know you are job searching and always have a current resume available. The Department of labor reports 48% of jobs are found through networking.
  • Job listings for Dartmouth students advertised in Dartmouth Career Services.
  • Internet — Many jobs are posted on the Internet. Start with the Graduate Office of Career Services.
  • Professional Organizations — Most professional journals and organizations announce position openings.

In order to present yourself effectively through a resume, cover letter, and interview it is necessary to acknowledge the stereotypes that exist between academic and business people (outside world). If you are aware of the stereotypes, it will better prepare you to prove you have the skills to make the transition to the outside the academic world.

Product Presentation

  • Resume — Your resume should make it obvious that you have the skills or transferable skills for the job you are applying for and you can adapt to the business world.
  • Cover letter — Find a name to write to, show that you have researched the organization and what you can do for them. Describe how your skills can "add value" to the organization.


Interviewers want to know three things:

  • Can you do the job?
  • Will you do the job?
  • Fit (Could I last three hours on a plane with this person?)
  • The fourth question for academics would be, can you make the transition?

Before your interview research the organization, read the company literature, look up their website, read related industry articles, and talk with Dartmouth alumni who work at the organization.


Always follow up with a typed thank-you letter. It gives you one last chance to market yourself and shows you have social skills.