Check out my recommendations below for books, training courses, websites and podcasts to assist with your job search. Also remember to ask your university’s career service for assistance – many universities will allow you to continue using their careers service for several years after graduation.
Leaving Academia: A Practical Guide, by Christopher L Caterine. The reams of actionable information packed into every chapter of this indispensable guide are underpinned by Chris’s compelling story of his own personal reinvention, and the thrilling possibilities that arise when we open ourselves up to becoming someone new.
Succeeding Outside the Academy: Career Paths beyond the Humanities, Social Sciences and STEM, edited by Joseph Fruscione and Kelly J Baker. A fantastic collection of inspiring and very practical essays, by seventeen PhDs who’ve left the academy and forged their own successful careers paths. Read my full book review for more details.
The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D Into a Job, by Karen Kelsky. In this ‘book of the blog’, Karen leads you through the entire fraught academic job application process, warts and all. There’s also an excellent section on the non-academic job search (entitled ‘Leaving the Cult’). Read my full book review for more details.
Black Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Can Create a Powerful Purpose for Their Lives, by Isaiah Hankel (founder of Cheeky Scientist). A brilliant, no-nonsense guide to finding a renewed sense of purpose after your PhD. Packed with case studies, exercises and advice to support your transition into a new career.
How to Find a Career With Your Humanities Degree in 126 Days, by James Mulvey (affiliate link). James lays out a schedule to help you massively improve your employability for jobs outside academia in only 4 months. Read my full book review for more details.
A Jobseeker’s Diary: Unlocking Employment Secrets, by Fawzi Abou-Chahine. A refreshingly candid account of Fawzi’s own journey to find industry employment after his PhD, covering topics like mental health and claiming welfare benefits, as well as the application process itself and making the transition into a new sector.
Websites (in alphabetical order)
Beyond the Professoriate – Founder Maren Wood (History PhD) has assembled a formidable range of careers resources on this site. The support for researchers includes blog articles, an online community, twice-yearly conferences and career coaching. Plus there’s support for institutions too, with the unique Aurora e-learning programme giving access to 150+ video interviews with PhDs.
Beyond the Tenure Track – Fatimah Williams’ website has loads of free resources to help you with your career transition, including videos, articles and success stories. You can also browse Fatimah’s range of paid-for products and courses, designed to support career explorers as well as active job seekers.
Career Clarity Coach – Jon Tam’s YouTube channel is packed with helpful videos on a wide range of career-change topics, including a playlist on conducting informational interviews – a vital activity for PhDs transitioning into jobs outside of academia.
Cheeky Scientist – Training and support for STEM researchers on making the transition into an industry career (membership required). There are free resources on the site which are of interest to all researchers.
Discover PhDs – This UK site has a comprehensive set of interviews with doctoral graduates, which you can explore to find inspiration for your own career path.
Employed Historian – Andrew Webb’s site helps liberal arts graduates to get a job. There is content aimed specifically at folks with higher degrees too, for instance this comprehensive article on I have a master’s degree and can’t find a job – which has some great advice on using measurement rather than tasks, on your resume.
From PhD To Life – Jen Polk’s wonderful site captures her experience and career progress after completing her PhD. Browse the inspiring interviews with people who’ve made the transition into a fulfilling career outside academia (including one from yours truly!).
Glassdoor – There are many different job sites out there, but what I like about glassdoor is the way you can read comments posted by employees working INSIDE organisations – this helps you to decide whether that’s a place you’d want to work.
Jooble – A powerful search tool for searching multiple job boards in a particular country, for a specific keyword or vacancy. Use Jooble to find out what roles are available in your target employment sector or profession.
The Leveraged PhD – Mel Bruce provides for PhD candidates and early career academics who want to build their own businesses, create a strong personal brand and/or develop a side hustle.
Ontology of Value – A research-driven company that helps professionals determine which future career paths may be best for them. Check out the range of books, coaching, webinars and courses designed to help PhDs and early career researchers effectively navigate the job market. There is also a fantastic YouTube channel which features an interview with me in Episode 39.
PhDs At Work – Michelle Erickson takes the PhD interview format to a whole new level with her ‘week-in-the-life’ approach. PhDs working in corporate and non-profit sectors give accounts of what they do in their day jobs, showing how skills learned in the PhD are put to use outside of academia. My favourite part is the way that each contributor’s dissertation title is listed too!
Post-gradual: the PhD careers blog – Holly Prescott shares valuable insights gained from more than a decade spent working as a university careers adviser. My favourite is Holly’s article on ‘What-the-heck level of job can I apply for beyond academia?’ – which offers a simple framework approach to an area that has always felt hard to understand and explain.
Reseach Careers: Options Beyond Academia – This fantastic resource was started by researchers who are connected with the University of Oxford in some way. Their website has a very slick and professional look and feel, and you can filter by industry sector and by degree type, which makes it easy to pinpoint individuals who match your own interests. These profiles serve as a brilliant blueprint and inspiration for folks who’re looking to make their own career transition.
Roostervane – Lots of great content here from Chris Cornthwaite to help you build your career, including videos, articles and a free email course.
Sell Out Your Soul – Billed as ‘A Career Guide for Lost Humanities Majors’, this witty and irreverent blog from James Mulvey has tons of useful and inspiring material for anyone with a humanities degree who is looking for work.
Think Ahead Blog – This blog, from the Researcher Development team at the University of Sheffield, has over one hundred profiles written by researchers who’ve found careers outside of academia. Use the hashtag #sheffvista to generate a list of all of the personal profiles on the site, and read about all the fantastic career paths open to PhDs.
Turning Science – David Giltner’s site aims to help scientists and engineers make a successful transition from academia into industry. David shares the benefits of his 20 year-career in industry, through a range of free content (e.g. videos which answer common career questions), and paid-for content like his book Turning Science into Things People Need, and his Essential Skills for a Career in Industry online course.
Versatile PhD – The Versatile PhD, founded by Paula Chambers, is a US website which aims to help humanities and social science graduate students and PhDs identify, prepare for and excel in non-academic careers. You can join for free and get access to a range of information including career profiles of doctorates.
Vitae – Vitae is a UK organisation dedicated to helping the careers of doctoral researchers and research staff in higher education. Browse its website for useful information about career paths for PhDs both inside and outside academia.
Training and courses
Career Transition Programme – Natalia Bielczyk’s six-week online course combines insightful information about the job market for PhDs, with a self-discovery exercise. Since everyone is different, this course will help you find out which career path is best for you. Readers of Jobs on Toast can use the code 445-010-123 to get a 10% discount (affiliate link).
Research Consultancy Programme – What to do about the age-old problem of not being able to get a job without experience, but not being able to get experience without a job? By joining Hellen’s Parra-Flórez’s Research Consultancy Programme, you’ll get to use your skills and knowledge on real-world business projects, helping you to develop your consultancy and project management skills. Ask your institution about funding your participation and note there’s one free place per course for a self-funded PhD or unemployed postdoc (affiliate link).
Endless Freelance Income – Courtney Danyel’s course will help you apply the skills that you’ve gained during your education, to earning an income through freelance writing (affiliate link). Check out Courtney’s fab article about freelance writing as a career option for PhDs, here on Jobs on Toast.
The LinkedIn checklist, by James Mulvey – These days, a LinkedIn profile is crucial both for credibility at the job shortlisting stage, and if you want to be found by recruiters who’re actively searching for good candidates online. This one-hour video shows you how to tune up your profile ahead of interviews, and how to make it searchable. Plus, James will personally review your LinkedIn profile and give you five tips to make it better still! Readers of Jobs on Toast can use the code TOAST get a 50% discount (affiliate link).
Once a Scientist – In this show host Nick Edwards aims to accomplish a number of goals, including helping young scientists to learn about different careers, speaking with scientists from a broad spectrum of backgrounds, and making science cool again! A nice touch is to ask guests to list their favourite books.
Papa PhD Podcast – In-depth interviews with researchers who are pursuing careers outside of academia, in French and in English, hosted by David Mendes. David is a fantastic interviewer and he skillfully draws out lessons and insights for the listener, in conversation with his guests. In Episode 1 of Season 2 David interviews me, so have a listen to our conversation about Rebranding the PhD.
PhD Career Stories – Has a great mix of personal stories along with hints and tips for your career search. If you only listen to one episode, listen to Episode 1 by Tina Persson – an energetic and inspiring story of a scientist changing careers and becoming a recruiter. Features an episode which I recorded on how to break into finance and banking, after your PhD (Episode 69).
Science Lives – Peter Coward talks to scientists who work in lesser-known careers, which still rely on a science education and a scientific way of thinking.
The Recovering Academic Podcast – An excellent source of information about the process of leaving academia, hosted by Amanda, Ian and Cleyde. Features an interview with me in Season 2, Episode 13: You are more than an academic.
15 minutes to develop your research career – An occasional podcast from Vitae. Episode 2 explores the career paths of PhDs and is definitely worth listening to for advice and inspiration.
Read my note about affiliate links on the Jobs on Toast website.