Careers and Employability Centre

PhD researchers

We support PhD researchers during and up to three years after graduation. We can help you explore your career ideas and the pathways available to you both within and outside academia

We work closely with the Doctoral School and our workshops are part of the Researcher Development Programme here at Sussex.

We encourage you to explore all of the options available to you and we recognise that our researchers enter a range of different industries following their PhD. 

You can find out what other doctoral graduates do and view the career destinations by discipline infographics (login required) via Vitae

Review our presentation slides on Doctoral Researchers Career Exploration [PPTX 4.80MB] if you are unsure about what you want to do after your PhD. 

Careers in academia

The most common route in academic after a PhD is one or more post-doc positions. These are typically fixed term contracts for 1-3 years. Post-docs complete research related to their PhD to build their academic expertise, as well as writing publications and attending conferences.

As academic careers are extremely competitive, in addition to research and publications you'll need (in the majority of cases) to build up good teaching and administration experience to demonstrate how you've contributed to your department and institution beyond your research. In some cases, researchers may take a teaching or a research-focused academic career route, though the majority of roles will expect you to do both.

Vacancy sources
Useful links

Research careers outside academia

There are various industries outside academia that allow you to make use of your research experience and skills, such as central government, think tanks, charities and NGOs. Our sector guides provide useful information on these areas.

The Careers Group has a comprehensive handout on research careers outside academia in a number of different sectors with useful vacancy sources.

Careers outside academia

For most roles you'll need to de-emphasise the technical content of your research and market the vast amount of transferable skills that you've gained from your PhD. 10 Career Paths for PhDs and Career Planning for PhDs have exercises to help you review your skills. 

Outside research roles, you may find that there are not that many roles that specifically ask for a PhD. You may find a small number of specific roles in large corporate firms, such as management consultancies, investment banks and quantitative finance.

If you're thinking about starting your own business, going freelance or developing a social enterprise, our Entrepreneurship Team can support you to develop your business ideas. Visit our Entrepreneurship pages to find out more about appointments, events and workshops, competitions and funding opportunities, and helpful resources. 

Our website has useful information on sector guides, working internationally and events that are useful if you're considering a career outside academia.

Employer internships and work experience placements for PhD students and graduates
Useful links

Our PhD CV and covering letter examples

  • Academic CV - this is built around the three pillars of research, teaching and administration. An academic CV is typically three pages or longer depending on the amount of experience you have.
  • Non-Academic Chronological CV - this can be used for roles related to your PhD and should be no longer than two pages.
  • Non-Academic Skills Based CV - this can be used for roles completely unrelated to your PhD where you should highlight the transferable skills you have gained throughout your career to date that you may find in the person specification of a job vacancy. This should be no longer than two pages.
  • PhD covering letter - this can be used to apply for academic and non-academic roles

Review our presentation slides on Effective CVs for PhD Researchers [PPTX 5.30MB] (January 2019)

Careers appointments for PhD researchers

We offer PhD researchers one-to-one appointments, which can be used for:

  • career exploration
  • CV feedback and application review
  • applying for work opportunities and further study
  • interview preparation.

You can make an appointment directly with the Careers Consultant for your School by emailing them. You don't need to use CareerHub to book. 

Email contacts for your School

Contact us: 01273 678429 / careers@sussex.ac.uk / staff contacts / Twitter / Facebook