Planning a career change after your PhD? About time …

For many PhDs, switching careers is a pretty big change. Decades spent in education and now you want to take your passions and transferable skills outside of academia?! To make this leap, you’re going to need a decent run-up.

Much like how an athlete trains ahead of a race, if you’re aiming to land a new job in the next six months to a year, you need to be blocking out dedicated time in your weekly calendar for careers-related work. This can be tricky while you’re completing your PhD, but it’s vital for making a smooth transition. For instance, I started my own exit preparations around six months before my post-doc came to an end, enabling me to land a job outside academia before my funding ran out.

Think about it: if you were preparing for an exam, you wouldn’t leave everything to the last minute, or revise in the odd evening here and there, would you? You’d make a revision schedule and revise all of the material thoroughly ahead of the exam. That’s how we got here in the first place after all!

So put a recurring careers slot into your schedule or diary today. One hour twice a week is a good start for developing that powerful résumé and persuasive letter of application. You can ramp it up as you start to apply for jobs and get interviews. If you’re super-organised and already invest a chunk of your time in careers work, what hints and tips can you share, or is there something you’re stuck on? Let me know – leave a comment below.

P.S. On the subject of diaries – look out for my presentation on transferable skills at this year’s Beyond the Professoriate Virtual Conference. My slot is on the Professional Development Day – 14th May.

Further reading – getting started

Use these articles to explore the topic of post-PhD careers further:

Use these articles to find out how and when to get started:

About Chris

I've made the transition from a PhD in Medieval Studies, into a career in business, consulting and project management. But I want to give something back to the researcher community, and help everyone who's facing the challenge of finding work outside academia. Jobs on Toast is a way for me to share my insights and experience, helping you to make a successful career change. Use my five-step plan to get started right away!

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