When people with PhD training go on the non-academic job market, they sometimes carry with them expectations from the academic job market that unnecessarily complicate or limit their job search, and keeps them from applying for jobs they could enjoy and learn from and where they could contribute a lot. Here are some of those expectations and how they influence job searches.
People who have been targeting a tenure-track position at an institution where they hope to spend much or all of their career may look for a similarly long-lived position outside academics. Mostly, however, people don’t stay at a single employer for as long as previous generations of academics often did. It’s much more likely that you will change employers at least a few times over the course of your career, so you need not fear that, once you accept a job, you’ll be there for decades. Thinking like that can lead to paralysis, as people justifiably worry about making decisions that last so long. Don’t worry: you can take a job, learn from it and from that organization, and then move on, and no one will think the worse of you. You need not look for “the” job or the “forever: job: look for your next good job. You should certainly look for a job lasting longer than the average adjunct contract.
Similarly, people who have been targeting a tenure-track job may believe that is the only kind of job for them, or the only kind of job that is any good, perhaps having heard this from faculty advisors. People who think that sometimes spend a long time searching for a perfect job, however they define it: one as like academics as possible, perhaps one that explicitly calls for a PhD in the job description (vanishingly rare). But if you find a job with some aspects that interest you, and some that are new to you, you can learn about them, decide whether you like them or not, move on if you do not, and explore them further if you do. You don’t need a perfect job: you need your next good job.
Sometimes people who have been targeting a particular institution or type of institution – research institutions, undergraduate teaching-focused colleges, whatever – also restrict their non-academic search to particular types of organizations, often believing those will be most similar to the academic job they were looking for. So they only look at non-profit institutions, or only at governmental jobs with an outreach component, or something. In my experience, however, non-profit, for-profit, and public-sector organizations differ so substantially among themselves that it isn’t wise to restrict your search in that way: you can be happy at a good job with a good boss in the for-profit sector, just as you can be in a bad job with a terrible boss in the non-profit sector. You don’t need the “best” environment (it doesn’t exist): you need a job in a good environment for you.
When people have a lot of time and resources invested in their PhD, they often look for a job that explicitly values their PhD as much as they do. Sometimes that leads them to look for job descriptions that require or desire a PhD (outside some science and medical research jobs, vanishingly rare), and sometimes they look there for words they associate with their PhD, like “research” and “teaching.” In your next good job, the fact of your degree will may not be required or valued as such, but the skills the PhD has given you will be. Bonus: the other skills you bring from the rest of your experience will likely be valued more than they would in academics. You don’t need a job that defines and values you as a PhD; you need a good job that defines your skills as something that can help solve their problems and values you as someone who can use those skills at that job.
If you define your job search as leading to your next good job, which will teach you something as you contribute and provide some new ways for you to think about your career, you will be much happier and more successful sooner than if you look for a job whose parameters you transfer in from an unrelated workplace.