An introduction to career management.
It is never too early to start thinking about your career plans.
Thinking about your future
Whilst doing your PhD, it is important to actively think about the direction you want your career to take after completion of your studies. This will ensure you are able to take advantage of opportunities to explore your options and add relevant skills and experience which may help you to progress in your future career.
Whether or not you decide to stay in academia, you will need to review your options and engage in aspects of the career planning process from time to time throughout your working lives.
Career planning is the process of making and implementing informed career decisions. Career management should be an ongoing activity and good career management can help you to plan an effective strategy for achieving your short and long-term goals.
Thinking about your career plans during your PhD
Career management activities you could consider whilst completing your PhD include:
For academic careers
- Taking advantage of talking about your research and raising your profile: potential future research colleagues can’t find you if they don’t know who you are or what you do.
- Ensuring you are meeting people and creating networks in your research area; you will hear about many academic job vacancies or positions in research teams through personal contacts.
- Keep abreast of the emerging popular research areas of your field; where are the areas of research that may have most potential for future employment?
- Find out what the research funders in your research area long-term strategic goals are.
- Find out what the next logical steps are in your discipline area: postdoctoral work? Independent fellowships? Teaching fellowships? How competitive are these roles to get?
- Keep abreast of the type and frequency of job vacancies that come up in your discipline areas; read the adverts. What do these roles ask for?
- Do the best research you can – and publish when and where you can!
You can find out more on this topic from the University Careers Service:
For non-academic careers
- Talk to more senior researchers and colleagues: what professions have other recent PhD graduates in the area gone into?
- Use good quality research, such as that produced by Vitae (e.g. publications such ‘What do researchers do?’) to research what the typical career destinations are in your field.
- Speak to friends and family about their careers.
- Attend career management information and training events, such as those offered by the Careers Service, and by us here in the IAD.
The Careers Service supports postgraduate researchers with exploring their options both within and outside academic research. You can find out more from the Careers Service:
If you haven’t already done so, complete our skills audit, then you can begin to look for courses, resources and opportunities to develop the skills you need.