An Academic Career

Find your next position

A conscious choice

Choose your next position strategically. What is going to benefit your career longer term?


Dr Sarah Hart talks about how she would have benefited from working abroad early in her career.
Dr Sam Cartwright-Hatton relates how she was encouraged to aim high when applying for fellowships.

Which position should you go for?

Should I stay or should I go?

It's sometimes easy to opt for staying in your current department or research group if there is funding for a research contract or part-time teaching position - is this the best option, particularly if you completed your undergraduate degree at the same institution?

Is now the time to try for a job overseas? If you have family commitments or a partner to consider, you may be more constrained, but many academic couples talk of periods of time where they have lived at the opposite end of the country to each other.

Investigate the following sections to consider whether a move is advisable:

Fill the gaps

What's missing from your Self assessment? Which positions will help your publication record or your teaching portfolio, depending on the type of academic post you ultimately want? Would working in a research institute give you access to potential collaborators to expand your network?

Reality check

Are you aiming high enough (or too high)? Some fellowships are open to newly qualified PhDs to fast track those with clear ideas of where their research is going - don't miss out on these. Others are clearly aimed at more experienced researchers and time spent on these applications could be better devoted to more realistic 'next steps'.

You should also consider reviewing the evidence in: What are my chances?

However, bear in mind that whatever the 'average picture', your chances depend on your own circumstances. Your discipline, your research record, your reputation and contacts, your teaching or prior experience - and luck - may all influence your chances of finding the ideal next step.

Seek advice and support from your network to help you decide what is right for you and your academic career ambitions.


How to find your next job

The following sections may help you:

  • Finding jobs - advice on sources of adverts, other ways of tracking down jobs which have yet to be advertised, and strategies for making others aware of your availability.
  • Making applications - with information on CVs, applications forms and covering letters.
  • Interviews and assessment - including our academic interview question bank.

Further help with finding jobs

Your supervisor, research group or department or your institution may offer support for writing grant applications and bids for funding. This may be individual help and feedback, or might be workshops or training sessions. Keep your eye open throughout the final year of your doctoral research for training events, as they may only be run once a year for your institution or discipline.

Your university careers service may be able to help with feedback on CVs, applications and interviews for academic as well as non-academic jobs. They are unlikely, however, to be able to offer feedback on grant applications or research statements unless they are specialists in your field.

If you belong to a professional association, there may be specialist careers support you could draw on or a mentoring scheme where you could get advice on your next move.