Let's Begin

Yes, scarcity mindset is real. Here's how it impacts your #postac job search

#careerchange #jobsearch May 15, 2022
Pink peg board that spells out Don't Panic in white letters

Is this you?  You do a search for jobs you're interested in on LinkedIn and Indeed, and you panic when you get a list of open jobs.  You should be applying for these jobs now, today, right away, but you don't feel ready.  But if you don't apply now, those jobs will be gone.  And so you rush to upload your resume and feel a brief sense of satisfaction when you hit Apply. Then doubt sets in as you hear nothing or you receive an automated rejection email.  And the cycle continues the next time you check the job boards.

Sound familiar?  If so, you're not alone.  Most of my clients go through this cycle.  In fact, the exhaustion of applying for jobs and getting no responses is what prompts them to hire me.  My clients want to stop the cycle of reactive job searching.  They see that their spouses, friends, and family members seem to be able to land new jobs with much less stress and effort.  They wonder:  "What's wrong with me?"

If you're an academic struggling with the postac job search, nothing is wrong with you.  You, like most of my academic clients, are grappling with the impact of scarcity mindset on your job search.  The good news is that once you recognize how scarcity mindset is impacting how you search for postac jobs, you can adjust your expectations and strategies to approach your job search more proactively and productively.

Scarcity Mindset is real and part of the academic experience

Scarcity mindset occurs when someone perceives that there are finite resources available. Whether it is jobs, money, time, or love, people who have scarcity mindset fear that there will not be enough of a resource to go around.  At its worst, scarcity mindset can be very debilitating. Let's acknowledge that scarcity mindset is real.  In fact, it's baked into the doctoral student experience and academic job search.  If you have been a doctoral student, you've heard and seen that there are many more candidates than tenure-track jobs available. If you work in a STEM-discipline, you've experienced having to compete for grant money and other sources of funding to support your research.  When academic jobs are posted in your field, there may be a handful to a few dozen openings.  If there are 20 openings (and, in some disciplines, that's a lot!), every time someone lands one of those jobs, there is one less job available for the remaining candidates on the market.  And given the nature of tenure-track hiring, it means that once the supply of open jobs is filled, there won't be any more open jobs available for 6-8 months.  So, scarcity mindset is a feature of the academic job search, and something you need to deal with if you go on the market.

How does this impact your postac job search?

Scarcity mindset can make you feel overwhelmed, guilty, or that you just want to settle for the job you have now.  Hey, at least it's a job, right? Here are some beliefs about the job search my clients have shared with me:

  • They feel pressure to land a new job.  They feel like they're never working hard enough or fast enough to land one
  • They think the job search will take a long time and so it's very difficult to get started.
  • They hear that friends or colleagues have landed new jobs in other industries, and they worry that it's too late for them to land a new job.
  • Their choices seem limited, and they're afraid they won't be able to find a job in their preferred geographic location, their preferred industry, or desired modality (in-person; hybrid; fully remote).

However, these beliefs are just that:  beliefs.  They don't necessarily reflect the reality of the postac job search for many people.  My clients have landed jobs in other industries even if they've had to work through scarcity mindset first. 

How to handle scarcity mindset

Scarcity mindset is a belief or set of beliefs you have about the postac job search.  You can change your beliefs and build a more effective search that helps you get what you want.  Here are some ways to address scarcity mindset:

  • Do research to see how many people with PhDs are working outside of academia.  On LinkedIn, search profiles using these search parameters:  "Job title" and "PhD." These parameters should help you see profiles of people with PhDs.
  • Talk with people who have made the pivot.  Connect with people who have left academia on LinkedIn and through groups on social media.  Ask for an informational interview (20-30 minutes of their time where you ask questions about their careers). This will give you realistic information about what it will take to make a pivot.
  • When you feel panicked or that jobs will be gone soon, resist the urge to reactively apply to jobs. Disable your search alerts or have them sent to a specific email folder. 
  •  Remind yourself that there will be new jobs every day and that you are not a failure if you worked on your resume instead of applying to jobs today.
  • If you're feeling stuck or unmotivated to begin because you're afraid that the job search will take forever, start small. Join social media groups for PhDs leaving academia to find others.  Begin researching industries or jobs.  Build your LinkedIn profile and connect with people on the platform.


I've worked with many clients who have successfully navigated the scarcity mindset and their job searches to land new jobs.  You can do it too!


Let me know if I can help with your job search!  Set up a time to chat with me about how scarcity mindset is holding you back.

Do you have questions about your job search and how I might help you?  Schedule your free 15-minute appointment today!

Ready To Talk?

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.