Guest post: Deciding who to work for after the PhD

When you start looking for a job outside of academia, the sheer range of opportunities can be bewildering. So I wrote a guest post on the theme of ‘Deciding who to work for: finding employment outside academia’ for the awesome website How to Leave Academia. The post outlines the three main areas where you can look for work – business, charity and government.

Unfortunately, How to Leave Academia can’t be accessed at the moment, so I’ve published an updated version of the post under the new title of Take control of your career by switching into a job outside academia. Enjoy!

Use my Career Roadmap to kick-start your career planning

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!