job after phd

Getting A Job: Advice For PhD And Post Doctoral Students

job after phd

Many PhD and Post Doctoral students go through their academic days with the assumption that they will continue their career in this profession once they’ve finished. However, academic posts are limited and there are only a few national research organisations. So when it comes to looking for jobs outside academia, where do you start and how do you convey your educational experience as an advantage?


Recently members of Sigmar’s Science & Engineering Division were involved with a career clinic for PhD and Post Doctoral students and the following is our advice.


CV Advice


For a non-academic role, the emphasis is on the skills and experiences you have that are relevant. Many PHD students fall into the trap of preparing their CV for a non-academic role in the same way they do for a research position. Their CV reads as a typical research track record and there has been no attempt to tailor it for the specific position they are applying for.


The key for a non-academic selection is to be selective in what you include and to tailor your CV to each role’s job requirements. For example only provide details of your research/publications if relevant to the position you are applying for.


Employers are not just recruiting for your research skills, they also want to see problem solving, report writing, communication, time management, leadership, teamwork and project management skills. In completing your PHD, you already have these skills but you need to articulate them through your CV.


Again from experience of writing academic CVs, PHD students tend to write passively and provide dense detail. For an industry position, you should have more “active language” (i.e. in the first person) and avoid technical or specialist terms unless relevant to the position you are applying for.


If you have commercial experience, show it! Whether you have industry experience from a 3 month internship or a full time job, make sure to include this in your CV. Employers want to see you have industry experience.


To Gain Experience


There are a number of ways that graduates can be proactive in obtaining employment.


Firstly show your eagerness by approaching companies directly. Find out who is responsible for hiring, email them to enquire about potential opportunities within their organisation and follow up with a phone call. Even though the company may not be recruiting at the moment, it will put you in mind for future roles or they may be able to direct you towards a company that is hiring.


Secondly don’t be afraid of an internship! Many PHD students just have aspirations for academic careers, so when it comes to applying for non-academic roles they find they lack work experience. A great way for getting your foot in the door is through an internship. Whether it be through Job Bridge or an unpaid internship, you are gaining relevant experience and it may lead to a position in the end.


Finally, with the job climate being as it is, having a PhD unfortunately doesn’t mean you will gain a senior role immediately. Be flexible about available opportunities, start at entry level and progressg quickly up the ladder because of your educational experience.

Posted by Mark Loughnane, Past Science & Engineering Graduate Recruitment Consultant on 28 November 2017

Related Content


Sigmar Announces “COVID Ready” Learning Partnership with Alison to Upskill Newly Unemployed

Sigmar Announces “COVID Ready” Learning Partnership with Alison to Upskill Newly Unemployed

Sigmar Recruitment and Alison today announce a COVID ready learning partnership as part of the emergency jobs initiative The initiative is an online platform set up by Sigmar Recruitment to help connect the displaced workforce with current frontline job opportunities, and to upskill the restricted workforce to enhance career prospects and enable a faster economic recovery. Alison, one of the largest learning websites worldwide, is now offering access to all of its courses free and unencumbered through The learning content being offered through the platform has been hand curated to reflect in-demand, recession-proof skills across an array of business and IT disciplines, including; data science project management customer service accounting web development computer networking e-commerce The core learning has been paired with lifestyle courses covering mental health, stress management and practical content on parenting while working from home for example aimed to support those working remote throughout the crisis period and beyond. The learning pathways have also been designed with jobseekers in mind with content on public speaking, job hunting, personal development supported by jobseeker advice on how to compete in the current marketplace, including tips on video interviewing, digital collaboration, remote onboarding and much more. Commenting on the partnership, founder of the initiative and Sigmar CCO Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig says: “As one of the world’s largest free learning platforms, Alison presents an excellent opportunity for newly unemployed in Ireland to upskill. The learning content has been COVID curated for maximum impact encompassing business skills, IT skills, mental health and personal development. We also aim to support the restricted workforce by providing upskilling opportunities during the downtime, to better equip our workforce to rebound from the crisis in the medium term.” Speaking at the announcement, Alison Founder & CEO, Mike Feerick stated that the gesture is one Alison is happy to make. “While being a global learning business, most of our team live and work in Ireland and know personally people whose employment has been jeopardised by the coronavirus pandemic crisis. Alison has over 1,500 free certificate and diploma courses, in subjects from project management, languages, IT, to health & safety, elderly caregiving, MS Excel and free courses on GDPR. “If you have been laid off, it is an opportunity to build up and strengthen your workplace skills to enhance your chances for employment in the months and years ahead. We are delighted to partner with Sigmar on the COVID Jobs Initiative.” is a for purpose “Team Ireland” initiative created by Sigmar Recruitment, supported by Alison, Candidate Manager, The Irish Times and Communicorp, established to mobilise the Irish Workforce.