Postgraduate Researchers

Career Management and Professional Development for Postgraduate Researchers

Careers and Employability are here to support you in making a successful transition from your research degree to the next stage of your career. There are, of course, other people in the University, particularly your supervisors and other academic colleagues, and the Doctoral School who can help you to plan your career and you should take full advantage of all the help that is available to you.

This section of Careers Central is designed to offer some starting points whether you are considering a career in academia, or considering alternative paths.

Tips for developing a career in academia (and generally making yourself more employable):

  • Start early - give yourself sufficient time to build your academic profile and develop experience: if you're currently completing a Masters qualification, start researching options, network with other academics (for example via the PG Women in Academia network and engage with the SHU Doctoral Community as well as the research community within your department or Faculty) 
  • The Researcher Development Framework (Vitae) provides a useful overview of the knowledge, skills and attributes desired by employers and provides a useful tool for self-evaluation and identification of areas to work on. The RDF can also be a useful prompt when highlighting skills on CVs and applications

Secure teaching experience: delivering workshops and lectures is a good start: involvement in the following activities will help too:

    • Leading seminars or conducting tutorials
    • Involvement in marking (e.g. exam scripts or assignments)

    • Involvement in student activities: supervising students' lab or dissertation work

    • Organising coursework or field trips, informally mentoring or supporting students

    • Organising courses and preparing materials      

    • Developing your teaching skills: attending workshops, completing a HE Teaching and Learning certificate or working towards HEA Fellowship Accreditation

 Raise the profile of your work and yourself as a researcher:          

      • Build a strong publication record: get your Doctorate or PhD research published via a book or a series of articles and build on this

      • Raise the profile of your work (both within and outside academia): effective use of marketing and PR skills, liaison with corporate communications, blogging, effective social media use, and the ability to secure media coverage are all valuable

      • Build contacts and network (online and in person):, (for scientists), Mendely and #phdchat on Twitter are used by academics

      • Practice presenting and defending your work: conferences and academic events provide good opportunities

      • Public engagement is increasingly important: utilise any opportunities to talk to the public about your work and/or your discipline

      • Write book reviews to network and build your profile

      • Develop all round experience: securing external funding, managing budgets, managing and delivering projects and organising events and conferences are all valued within academia

      • Subscribe to the SHU Doctoral School Blog to find out about events, training and conferences

      • Attend SHarD (Sheffield Hallam Researcher Development) workshops: topics include managing projects and budgets, networking and raising your profile as an academic

      • Take advantage of Epigeum Online Courses (available through the ’Academic CPD Online Courses’ Blackboard site) (you are advised to access these in Chrome to gain full functionality)

Using your Doctorate or PhD outside Academia:

As a Doctorate or PhD holder, your qualifications and skills can be extremely useful both across a range of sectors, especially if you have the additional skills mentioned above. If you're considering alternative career paths, here are some starting points:

What do researchers do? - Vitae resources including information and case studies of researchers who've moved into alternative careers

Possible areas to consider:

  • Research roles outside academia in industry, commerce, public sector, charities, pressure groups, 'think tanks', cultural organisations
  • Non-academic roles within a University: possessing a Doctorate or PhD opens up management opportunities and your HE experience means you have a good insight into the culture and structures within HE

  • Scientific services - clinical sciences, advisory services, specialist industries

  • Associated commercial careers - technology transfer, patent agent, data management, regulatory affairs, marketing

  • Communication - publishing, editorial, commissioning, production, press officer, outreach, medical writer, online content

  • Teaching - university, schools, the post-16 sector and adults

  • Freelancing/starting a business/consultancy work/

  • Something completely different ... finance, I.T.

For career paths completely unrelated to academia, Prospects Planner (designed for graduate-level jobs) could prompt new ideas.


Last modified: 
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - 11:45