Careers and Employability Centre

PhD researchers

We support PhD researchers during and up to three years after graduation from Sussex. We can help you explore your career ideas and find out more about the pathways available to you both within and outside academia. We encourage you to explore all of the options available to you as we recognise that our researchers enter a range of different industries following their PhD.

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

Careers in academia

For those wishing to stay in academia the most common route after a PhD is one or more post-doc positions, which 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.

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

Useful links:

Our PhD CV 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 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.
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.

Contact the Careers and Employability Consultant for your School or Department to arrange an appointment:

Our workshops