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Moving from academia to industry: the ‘great resignation’

Published on: 12 Feb 2024

The 'great resignation' from academiaIn 2021, the hashtag #leavingacademia became a digital rallying cry on social media.

Nature asked whether the 'great resignation' — the international wave of worker resignations that began in the wake of COVID-19, including a record 47 million US residents and 2 million UK adults — had hit academia. It was one of the most-read articles of 2022.

Naomi Tyrrell, founder of a Facebook support group called AltAc Careers UK, says the trend continues, fuelled in part by social media making it easy to share stories. "Academia is not changing in terms of prejudice or discrimination. Change isn’t happening fast enough.”

Karen Kelsky, founder of Facebook group The Professor is Out, agrees. “The job isn’t what it was,” says Kelsky. She says the story used to be, “I can’t get an academic job, so I have to leave academia.” Now, academics — including established ones walking away from tenure — think, “I have a job and have to leave because I can’t stand it.”

Nature recently spoke to five scientists who swapped academia for industry in the past two years; to learn what motivated their move, which skills they found most sought after, and what life is like on the other side.

Nature's jobs website, Nature Careers, aims to support both scientists looking for their next role and scientific recruiters seeking talented candidates. 

If you're an academic considering a move to industry, you can browse industry opportunities and sign up for industry job alerts on the site.

Or if you're recruiting for industry vacancies, you can start generating job applications immediately with a 60-day job listing.

And, for ongoing industry recruitment, the Nature Careers recruitment subscriptions offer 12 months of unlimited hires and employer branding.