Careers and Employability Service
Postgraduate researchers

Applying for jobs outside academia

Woman at an interview


You've decided to apply for jobs outside academia and you're fired up and ready to go! 

Just hold fire for just a moment. Making an effective application begins much earlier than seeing a job advert so you may need to take a step back and:

Okay, are you ready to find out about the different application styles employers use and explore a range of vacancy sources? 


Where to look for vacancies

Sources of vacancies

Sources of vacancies will obviously vary depending on the sector(s) of interest to you.

There will often be specialist vacancy websites available, but it is also worth looking on employers’ own websites or contacting employers of interest to find out how/where they advertise their vacancies.

Graduate jobs - sources of vacancies Types of jobs pages - vacancy sources for a range of sectors MyCareer - our vacancy service for UoN students The Guardian 


If you are looking for a career that will use your expert knowledge in a particular field, networking can be a very valuable approach. Some initial contact with an organisation, followed up with a targeted CV is often well received. 

Check our events programme to see if any employers of interest are giving talks and attending careers fairs.

Employers will often make a note of people they meet and this can be advantageous when they receive your application.

Our careers events programme

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

The tips you gave about writing your application in line with the person specification are really useful - it's something I now look for when I'm reviewing job applications as it makes it so much easier to read and assess against the criteria.
Rachel Keetley (2023)

How to make a successful application

Many large employers will have their own online application forms.

There is a great deal of online advice available to help you fill them in – sometimes on the employers’ own website.

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.



Developing your skills

Dr Alasdair Taylor, PhD alumnus, provides advice on how to make an effective application for jobs outside academia.

The application process with Tessella

Dr Carl Mundy, PhD alumnus, talks through the recruitment process he went through to secure his role as a data analyst at Tessella.

Following attending a workshop I applied for a job promotion. I used the tips from the workshop to write my application form and prepare for the interview - I got the job! Needless to say, the workshop was incredibly beneficial.
Rachel Keetley (2023)

How to craft your CV and prepare for interviews. Watch an employer's video.


A CV for a job is different to an academic CV as it has to fit onto a maximum of two sides of A4.

This means there will not be room for a long list of publications or some of the other elements of your academic career that you value.

It can be difficult to let some of that detail go, but you must take steps to translate your experience for employers who are not familiar with the academic environment.



The interview process can vary widely between different employers. For a formal scheme, it may involve an  assessment centre and several interviews.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) might take a less formal approach.

For an overview of different interview types and advice on how to prepare for them, go to the following webpages:

Preparing for interviews

Preparing for assessment centres

Steven Mulholland, VP of People, ONYX Insight

 As a PGR recruiter, Steven Mulholland gives:

  • an insight into how PGRs can stand out during the interview process, and
  • advice on making the transition from academia to industry


How to maximise your chance of success

  • Gain some relevant work experience in your chosen field
  • Build your evidence base – look for development opportunities that broaden your perspective
  • Build your network
  • Be aware that your PhD won’t always give you a salary or status advantage on entry. For example on a graduate training scheme, but quicker progression is possible
  • Spell out what your PhD has given you in appropriate language for a lay person

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