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.

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
  • Bank of England - offers a PhD programme in policy research and 12-week internships for PhD students doing relevant research
  • The British Library - research placement scheme to support professional development, projects in curatorial teams, research engagement, digital scholarship, corporate affairs and public policy
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council - offers the Doctoral Training Partnership Programme for current students who want to carry out a placement unrelated to their PhD
  • BNP Paribas - offers some graduate finance programmes aimed at PhD graduates
  • Boston Consulting Group - apply the skills gained from your PhD to a career in consulting
  • Cancer Research UK - research grant funding schemes for early career researchers
  • CHASE placements - paid short-term placements for current PhD researchers in AHRC eligible areas.
  • Civil Service Fast Stream - leadership development programme with 15 schemes. The Science and Engineering scheme requiring a Masters or PhD as minimum
  • Credit Suisse - Careers Start programme aimed at PhD graduates
  • JP Morgan - internships in AI and machine learning, and quantitative analysis, for PhD students with relevant knowledge
  • Microsoft - 12-week PhD internships to gain applied research or engineering experience
  • The Royal Institution - three-month placement within the Digital Team or assisting with specific projects or masterclasses
  • South East Network for Social Sciences - short-term paid placements with external organisations to support social research for eligible students
  • South West Doctoral Training Partnership - up to six weeks work experience with a partner organisation for eligible PhD students
  • UK Research and Innovation - policy internships scheme for eligible doctoral students to spend three months at an influencial policy institution
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