Career opportunities after PhDUncategorized

Career opportunities after PhD: Tips for a successful job search

Career opportunities after PhD

Challenges with employment and career opportunities after PhD

The current academic job market has become increasingly competitive for PhD graduates, which has made it important for them to explore the available options and careers after PhD. PhD holders exceed the limited tenure positions and are often forced to move to non-academic positions or remain underemployed in career paths after PhD that often require lesser degrees. Graduates of some fields may better navigate non-academic labor markets than others. 

For example, STEM, business, and economics graduates are more likely to obtain industry-specific technical and applied skills. But others wondering how to get into industry after a PhD may not recognize the extent to which their problem-solving, analytical, and critical-thinking skills may be used outside academia.

Non-academic careers after a PhD are not simply a preference but have become a necessity for many PhD holders, especially when academic jobs are limited. It could also be related to your personal values, family situation, instability/insecurities while working on a contract, preferences, or available career options after a PhD. Doctoral students also perceive limited support and a lack of resources to address their diverse career development needs during their training as reasons for this shift.  Most often, PhD scholars don’t know how to get into industry after their PhD, as they feel they are misfits here. The extent of the mismatch could be in terms of skills, the field of study, or over-qualification. This article can help you overcome some challenges in finding suitable career opportunities after your PhD.

Career options after PhD

The following are just some of the PhD career options you have upon achieving your doctorate:

In academia,

  • Post-doc
  • Teaching
  • Adjunct faculty position

In industry,

  • Policymakers/Adviser to policymakers
  • Consultant
  • Entrepreneur
  • Publishing
  • Public speaker

Optimizing your job search for great careers after PhD

As a PhD student, you might find it hard to decide the next step in your career after your PhD. Not everyone completing a PhD will find full-time tenure positions at higher education institutions. You would naturally want a lucrative and rewarding career after your PhD that makes all the hardships worthwhile. But choosing between academic/non-academic jobs or private/public sector jobs can be challenging, especially if you are unfamiliar with the job-hunting game inside/outside of academia. The following steps can help you with your job search process and steer your career path after your PhD.

Reflect: Look back on your experiences to identify what aspects of your research you enjoyed most. It could be experimental or fieldwork, creative writing, connecting with other researchers, or managing your project. There are many career options for PhD holders on the market, and some reflection will help you identify the direction in which you want to go.

Decide location: Your preferred location can influence your job search. Think about where you’d like to live and the job opportunities and career options for PhD holders available there. Often, you might find that you want to go back to your home country to pursue a career after your PhD and would have to adjust your job search depending on the types of jobs available locally. Therefore, looking for the right job in the right place can reduce your search time.

Network: Many PhDs underestimate the importance of networking effectively and having a good communication strategy in determining their careers after their PhD. Jobs received through university networks tend to align with your education and offer better career opportunities after PhD. So find some time to attend events and network with stakeholders in top companies and other universities. Speaking to senior colleagues about your job search can also help you understand their experiences and learn how to get into industry after PhD. Finally, make sure to have a LinkedIn profile to connect with people with similar interests and careers after your PhD.

Career centers: Your university career center can also offer guidance on possible careers after PhD, especially finding a good position upon graduating. They can also help you familiarize yourself with institutions that award research grants and their requirements.

Websites: You may find career opportunities for PhDs on university websites or other relevant platforms, such as:

  • Nature careers
  • New scientist jobs
  • Science Careers
  • Technojobs-PhD jobs

Strong resume: When applying for non-academic jobs, focus on enhancing the many transferable skills from your PhD, such as Communication skills, Creative thinking, Management, Problem-solving skills.

Use the following strategies to enhance the quality of your CV or resume:

Highlight achievements: Your CV should include sufficient detail to show a selection committee that you are the perfect candidate for the job. Update your CV regularly to include recent achievements and skills gained that are relevant in careers after PhD.

Tailor-made for the job: Fine-tune your CV to meet the job requirements. An academic CV should be different from a non-academic one to match the needs of that particular opportunity. A 1-2 page summary of your experiences and expertise is sufficient for an industry job, but your academic CV should include a full record of your work and can be much longer.

Add specific, credible information: To secure the best career after PhD, ensure the CV you submit is supported by sufficient details of specific experiences that highlight your efforts and skills.

Add evidence: Incorporate quantitative evidence or proof to support the facts in your CV. Do not fabricate information that will crumble under scrutiny and mar your career options after PhD.

Start early and keep looking: Finally, start your job search early and keep looking until you have found a job that meets your requirements.


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