Careers and Employability Service
Services for research staff and PhDs

Applying for jobs


Applying for jobs outside academia will require a different approach and whilst these pages can offer some starting points you can access further support by:


Application types and formats

Employers can use recruitment agencies and consultants to advertise and undertake initial shortlisting. Larger organisations may have their own recruitment websites where prospective employees can search for vacancies and upload a CV or complete an initial application form.

Application requirements do vary:

  • you may be asked to complete a standard application form
  • submit a CV and cover letter
  • other documents may be asked for, for example a supporting or personal statement

Some employers will specify what you can or cannot submit, for example you may be told that CVs will not be accepted and you must complete the employer’s application form. Make sure you stick to these regulations, your application may be rejected immediately if you do not.

General points on applying for jobs outside academia

It is unlikely that your academic CV will be suitable for this type of application, most importantly it may be too long. Employers will expect a CV which is no more than two pages.

Secondly, employers will need evidence of:

  • your generic and transferable skills
  • any specialist skills or knowledge you have related to the job

They may not require full lists of publications, conference attendance etc.

Completing your application

Application forms can vary in format:

  • some may contain specific competency questions where you will be asked for examples and evidence of the skills required for the job
  • others may require the completion of a supporting statement ─ in this case, you will need to use the person specification details as a framework for your statement

The application information pack provides a very useful guide to help you to target your application at the specific needs of the job. 

  • Analyse the information from the application information pack
  • Use the person specification as a checklist whilst you are preparing your application
  • Consider how the experience you have gained in academia and in other work or experiences may transfer to the job
  • Cover letters should be no more than one page and should support your CV or application form information
  • Use the cover letter to identify why you are interested in the job, organisation or career area you are applying to

Thoroughly research the organisation you are applying to ─ employers may criticise applicants for their lack of research and understanding of the organisation and the role they will be taking in it.

Use any network contacts you have, for example, if you've been working collaboratively with industry find out from contacts what they look for in prospective new employees.

Further reading and resources

You can find examples of non-academic CVs and cover letters on the Vitae website.



    Careers and Employability Service

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