Philosophical Doctorate (PhD) candidates
A Ph.D. is a typical prerequisite for a career as a university professor or researcher, however it can lead to a range of career options beyond these fields that you may not yet have considered.
- Career options for PhD students
- What skills will I develop through a PhD?
- The importance of networking
- Contributing to publications
- Applying for jobs
Career paths for PhD students can include, but are not limited to:
- A specialist role in the private or public sector, e.g. senior statistician in banking and finance, consultant in your field of expertise
- Non-government and not-for-profit organisations
- Journalism - particularly for specialist journals and publications
- Media - e.g. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
- A combination of all or any of the above
Graduate Careers Australia provides a brochure that lists the transferable skills typically developed through a PhD. These include, but are not limited to:
- independent thinking,
- project management,
- analytical skills,
- written communication skills,
Discover more about transferrable skills developed through study in the What employers want section of our website.
Networking is an essential element of any effective career management strategy, and is particularly important for people completing a PhD.
Networking is about building connections and relationships with fellow researchers, key contacts and organisations in line with your studies. Not only will this assist with your research, in terms of gaining access to essential people, findings or resources, but it may also ensure you have access to relevant publishers and publications, conference presentation opportunities, and possibly future employers.
Be aware that if networking is undertaken with a ‘what can I get from you’ attitude it will instantly fail. Networking is not about taking but about sharing, building relationships and making connections. Visit the Networking tips page of our website for more information.
A second essential element of effective career management for PhD students is becoming published. There are a number of reasons for this:
- most academic job ads include a request for your list of publications,
- it is a means of validating your research and receiving constructive and critical feedback,
- it can help to clarify your research ideas and assist with obtaining research grants, and
- it can contribute to building your reputation within the research community.
When it comes to deciding where to publish, talk with your supervisor, colleagues and fellow students to ascertain which journals are most suitable for your research.
Resumes for academic jobs
The most requested document when applying for a job is a resume. If you don’t have one, start developing one NOW. Don’t underestimate the time it will take to develop a professional and effective resume.
Resumes for roles in academia differ from those for roles in the private sector. It is important to know how to tailor yours appropriately if applying for an academic position.
- Your academic qualifications are essential and need to be placed early in the resume.
- Academic work history, if any, also must be mentioned early in the document.
- Research experience needs to be highlighted, especially any achievements and outstanding results that may have come from your research.
- Publications and presentations at conferences are essential items for inclusion.
- Awards and successful grant applications also demonstrate that you have the capacity to produce successful research and validate the importance of your work within the research community.
Interviewing for academic jobs
Panel interviews are the most common form of interview for an academic position. The number of panel members can range from two to ten or more. Panels often consist of staff members from across all areas of the university, not just your specific discipline.
An informal meeting with departmental staff either before or after the panel interview may be offered. This provides a valuable opportunity to learn more about the department and possible future colleagues.
Sample panel interview questions include:
- What were the key achievements from your research?
- If you were successful in achieving this position, for which research project would you use your grant money?
- How would you contribute to current research projects within this department?
- What experience have you had supervising students?
- Explain your teaching style to us.
- Give an example of a time when you have had to manage a challenging student. What was the issue, how did you manage it and what was the outcome?
- What are your future publications plans for your research?
- The university is interested in making greater connections with the local community. Is there any scope in your planned research to contribute to this objective and if so how?
- Where do you see yourself professionally in five years time?
It is also quite common to be required to give a presentation or short lecture outlining your research. The audience may include students, academics from your discipline, the Faculty and/ or other faculties across the university.
It is essential that you are well prepared. Speak to your supervisors and other academics about presentations they have had to give at interviews. In planning for the presentation:
- Ensure you understand what you are required to present on, and stay on topic.
- Research the audience and prepare appropriately.
- Practice your timing.
- Speak clearly and to the entire audience.
- Use current forms of technology and visuals where appropriate.
- Consider developing and distributing handouts.
- Invite the audience to ask questions.
- Thank the audience at the end.
Further information on interview types, preparation and practice can be found in the Interviews section of this website.
Gaining experience is important as it adds to your knowledge base, to your record of work history and it starts to build your name reputation in the market. To learn more about work experience and the best way to approach it, visit the Work Experience section of this website.