Careers and Employability Service
Services for research staff and PhDs

Options after your PhD

Smiling researcher

PhDs work in a wide variety of employment sectors including academia, and in both commercial and not-for-profit organisations. Exploring and researching your career options is important whether you are:

  • considering an academic career
  • considering a career outside academia
  • unsure about what you want to do next

Leaving your career decision making to the last minute is not advisable, especially as you have a range of support available to you to help you to work on your career goals. This University-wide support is provided by:

You should also be aware of the support available through your academic department.

Researching your options


When to apply for jobs

Timing your applications for jobs can be problematic because completion and final graduation dates can be flexible. For post doctoral or academic jobs you may be able to apply before you have submitted your thesis, especially where the job details indicate that candidates who are close to submission will be considered.

  • Applying for jobs outside academia: companies who regularly recruit graduates may have an annual recruitment round with closing dates for applications – you may have to apply well in advance of the end of your research degree
  • Applying for a specific post in an organisation: remember that an employer will want someone in post as soon as possible – make sure that you are realistic about when you can be available to start work if you are offered the job


CVs for jobs outside academia

You will need to develop a different style of CV for jobs outside academia. For example:

  • CV length is different – one or two pages is the norm for most employers
  • The content will differ – employers may not require details of your publications or conference attendance. They will need evidence and examples of the transferable and inter-personal skills you have to offer

Attending one of the Graduate School's CV workshops will help you to understand the different requirements and prepare a CV for this type of application.

Use the applying for jobs pages in the student site for more information and examples of different CV formats.


The following reports offer a general overview of PhD career options



The Service's events programme includes presentations from a wide range of employers during the autumn and spring terms.

Employer and career presentations also take place in the Graduate Centres – make sure you regularly review their events diaries and the Graduate School's events programme.



Careers and Employability Service

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

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