Careers and Employability Service
Postgraduate researchers

Applying for an academic job



Give yourself time to produce an application that you are proud of and will get you to the next stage of the recruitment process.

A rushed and last minute application for a post-doctoral research or teaching role while writing up or preparing for viva is not the best approach.

Your next step

If you're in the process of making an application, get advice from our team before you send it off.

Book an appointment on MyCareer


Before making an application - watch our video on the three 'I's

Essential preparation

  1. Research academic careers and think carefully whether it is the right option for you
  2. Consider your future research ideas and plans beyond your PhD
  3. Identify research leaders working in this area who may have job opportunities
  4. Update and review your CV and other application documents

The three 'I's of successful job applications

The three 'I's are Interest, Immediate and Impact. Clare Jones, explains how to use them to produce a successful application and move onto the interview stage.


Finding academic job vacancies

Sources of vacancies

There are a number of relevant vacancy websites, including: - for UK academic jobs  Times Higher Education Jobs FindAPostDoc Academic Careers Online –a global academic job site Euraxess researchers' portal - European jobs   Vitae - US jobs Academic Careers Online - jobs in Australia 


For most PhDs looking for academic roles - networking is a key skill. Build and use your network of contacts to explore the opportunities available – your profile and reputation, and those of your close colleagues, will potentially open doors for you.

If you have a personal contact with someone in a particular institution that interests you, a conversation followed up with a targeted CV can be productive.

Explore relevant courses through your school, faculty, the Researcher Academy and academic or learned societies.

Using LinkedIn

If you are interested in developing your LinkedIn profile and maximising your potential with future employers, this webinar is a fantastic resource.  

Gemma Foxall, Careers Adviser, talks about:

  • using LinkedIn - hints and tips
  • the alumni function
  • how to create a profile that works for you.

Login to SharePoint to watch this webinar

  • Alumni: Email us to gain access to the webinar

Icon of a video playing


Application forms, academic CVs and covering letters

Application forms

The application form will usually require a statement of research interests – proposing future research and explaining how that builds from your current expertise. 

Essential reading:

Download Building Academic Job Applications: A Quick and Practical Guide for Early Career Researchers PDF file icon

Vitae  - writing a statement of research interests  

Academic CVs

You will, of course, need to submit your academic CV when you begin to apply for post-doctoral research and teaching jobs.

However, we would encourage you to set up an academic style CV from the beginning of your research degree so that you can use it as an important part of managing and developing your career. You can use it to:

  • assess your academic career development
  • identify potential training and development needs
  • keep an up-to-date record of your academic activities
  • apply for opportunities that will add to your academic profile, such as conferences and awards

As your CV is more than a job application document, we've created a series of videos with expert advice to help you to set up and review your academic profile. Check out our example CV as a starting point.

Watch our videos and take a look at our example academic CV

Covering letters

Your covering letter (or supporting statement) should highlight key themes from your CV but not simply repeat them in narrative form.

The reader will want to quickly identify candidates who meet the requirements of the role and who demonstrate their interest in, and enthusiasm for, the area of research or teaching.

The theme of your letter should be forward-looking focused on role and work you will do. In the first couple of paragraphs, explain your interest in the role and the contribution you will make. Use evidence and examples from your CV to support your case. - advice on an academic covering letter

I got the teaching position! I'm so, so grateful to you for all your help going over my application form, CV, and interview skills. It's nice to know that your hard work has more than paid off!
Ella Wydrzynska, PhD English (2023)


The interview process is likely to involve a presentation and a panel interview with between two and ten interviewers. 

Interview success with eCareersGrad

We've partnered with eCareersGrad to provide FREE access to a modular, video-based, interactive eLearning course.

They have developed some resources for academic interviews that you may find useful. Go to Chapter 8 Specialist Academic Interviews. Register for free access:

Register using your UoN email

Alumni: email us to access

A woman having an interview with copy: interview success


Mock interviews

You can book a mock interview with the us to provide individual feedback and support.

Maximising your chances of success 

  • Be geographically flexible
  • Be prepared to take on short term contracts – this is the norm for those starting on a post-doctoral research career
  • Focus on building your network of contacts e.g. through attending conferences, contributing to relevant discussion groups on social media.
  • Develop a publication strategy and some ideas for future research
  • Talk to academic colleagues about their career paths

Support with your application

Our advisers offer advice on how to present your academic study, transferable skills, and strengths tailored to the job role in your CV, covering letter or at an interview.

This will involve examining the job description and person specification and identifying with you how your expertise meets those requirements. We will advise you on the most sector-appropriate format for your CV and covering letter as well as prioritising specific content to make an immediate impact with the employer. 

Book an appointment on MyCareer

Centre for English Language Education

Help is also available on appropriate use of language for job applications, cover letters, interviews and presentations.  Personalised one-to-one consultations allow you to guide the focus according to your needs. This is not a proofreading service, but a tutor can offer advice on language choice, formality, and sentence and paragraph structure to help your application stand out.

Find out about one-to-one consultations



Careers and Employability Service

University of Nottingham
Portland Building, Level D
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 3680
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 3679