In my experience the main challenge that PhD students face when it comes to exploring their non-academic career options is knowing where to actually start! Having spent many years in university, it can be daunting to think of working in industry or in public service. PhDs typically ask themselves: what sort of job am I good for, having spent so long studying? Where are mainstream jobs advertised? How do I successfully put myself across at interview?
While the answers to these questions will vary from person to person, I believe that all PhDs will benefit from following a clear roadmap to get their career search started. The Career Roadmap set out below is based on my own experience and reflects the steps I took when starting to look for work outside of academia:
1. In the first step of the Roadmap, Discover your potential, the purpose is to explore your dreams and personal goals, and find out what motivates you in life.
2. In the second step, Choose your profession, the purpose is to identify a non-academic career area that fits with the passions, ambitions and goals you have identified.
3. In the third step, Market yourself, the purpose is to develop the materials and the network you’ll need for applications in your chosen profession(s).
4. In the fourth step, Get an offer, the purpose is to apply for advertised and unadvertised roles, to secure one or more job offers.
This approach will help you to overcome the difficulty of knowing where to start, and it provides you with structure and direction for managing your non-academic career planning and job search. In future posts I’ll map out each of the 4 steps of the Career Roadmap in more detail, sharing my experiences and linking to helpful resources.
Take action now: Have you created your personal Career Planner yet? See my post on getting organised to find out why you need one!
Further reading – getting started
Why you need to start thinking about a career outside academia – today! by Chris
Get organised – create a Career Planner, by Chris
Deciding when to quit the academic job search, part 1, by Chris
Deciding when to quit the academic job search, Part 2, by Chris
Preparing for life after the PhD – re-train your brain, by Chris