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Career Essentials for PhDs and postdocs is a package of resources and workshops designed to meet the core career needs of early career researchers from those looking to progress an academic career to those exploring their options beyond academic research.  

Career Essentials for PhDs and postdocs complements our core Career Essentials programme, covering: 

  • Career Planning Tools: resources to support you with considering what you want from a career and exploring your options. These tools can support your career planning whether you’re exploring your options post-PhD, considering a career change or just want to weigh up your options. 

  • Academic Career Management: supporting you to understand the academic career path, reflect on your development and identify activity to support your career progression  

  • Building Your Network: resources and practical advice on connecting with others to support your career planning and development 

  • Get Recruitment Ready: tools to enable you to craft winning applications for academia and beyond!  

Our Careers Essentials programme is made up of on-demand resources including toolkits, videos and Sways outlined in the below sections. Check out the signposted additional resources in each section for further advice and support! 

In addition to our on-demand resources we run several live workshops throughout the year. You can view the events calendar and book on to an event via your Handshake account

Not on Handshake yet? No problem, PhDs – you just need to activate your account and postdocs sign up here.

Career Planning Tools

Four ways to figure out what career might suit you

You are suited to more careers that you think.

But it’s hard to narrow your options down when you start to look at the broad job market. One of the most effective ways to figure out suitable paths is to do some introspection and reflection as a first step. Here you can find are 4 different activities to get insights. Try one for starters and see what it tells you.

Should I postdoc or not?

Are you weighing up a postdoc or fellowship position post-PhD? Here we talk about how a postdoc fits into the wider academic career path and how to decide whether it’s the right choice for you. 

Additional Resources:

The A-Z of Careers can help you explore different sectors and the roles within them.  

Check out our YouTube channel where you’ll find sector briefings and conversations with former PhDs and postdocs talking about their career journey.

Looking to learn more about particular careers or hear the experiences of other PhDs and postdocs, check out our blog on informational interviews

Prosper is a career resource specifically built for post docs but useful to all researchers, it will support you to work out what you want from your career, create an action plan and help you to figure out opportunities outside academia.

Research Careers - explore more researcher career case studies across a range of disciplines and career paths.

Researcher career stories - Video and written career stories covering a range of disciplines and industries.

Exploring career options beyond academia: essential LinkedIn tricks for researchers.

Building your Network

Developing your Professional Profile in Academia

Developing a strong professional profile in academia can have a positive impact on your career, supporting you to be known in your field, access potential collaborators or mentors, enabling you to become aware of opportunities and supporting you in future job applications. Learn more via Sway

Online as a researcher

Are you thinking about why should you be present online as an academic researcher? And which of the huge range of platforms should you be using?  This video will help you to think about how and why to use different academic online sites and social media, for connecting with people, finding researchers with common interests, promoting your work and making your research more visible and, increasing the impact of your research. 

Building Your Network Outside of Academia 

Networking with those outside of academia can help you to explore what options might be out there, get information you can’t find by searching online and help you to get tailored advice or hear the experiences who have been in a similar position to you. Learn more about building your network and how to make effective approaches via Sway

Additional Resources: 

Use the Alumni function on LinkedIn to browse the career paths of Cambridge alumni and postdocs (and those from other institutions you've been at as well).  Explore their career paths, both for those who have stayed in academia to those who have made a variety of career transitions.  You can get in touch to ask questions.

The Postdoc Academy runs a mentoring scheme, matching current postdocs with mentors relevant to their career interests and professional goals. Find out more here.

General advice on networking, developing your Handshake profile, using LinkedIn and more can be found in our Career Essentials: Building Your Network playlist.

Academic Career Management

Toolkit for academic career development 

This toolkit is for researchers in all disciplines to guide planning your academic career.  You can use it to record your activities, experiences, skills, and outputs;  to define the relevance and impact of your academic activities and experiences; and to assess areas to focus on and set goals to support your development. 

Additional resources

Check out our Academic Careers page for more tips, advice and resources including Quick Guides and access to the Research Professional funding database. 

Review the Academic Application Toolkit. Academic applications can involve writing many documents. Especially for faculty position, academic employers ask for a package, not just your CV.

Check out the Making it in Academia podcast series on Youtube, where we speak with newly hired lecturers & PIs and HR professionals about what will help you get 'that' coveted first academic position.

Find our Fellowships Sessions podcasts where Early career and career development fellowship holders share their journey to securing their fellowships. Hear tips and advice from PIs about how to approach a potential host to effective collaborations.

Explore our quick guide on ‘Activities in Cambridge to boost your career’ which provides suggestions and information about a range of activities you can get involved in outside your day-to-day research. 

Get Recruitment Ready: Academia & Roles Beyond Research

Academic applications

We have a comprehensive package of resources to support you with academic applications on this page.

  • CVs including narrative CVs 
  • Research statements 
  • Research proposals 
  • Cover letters for faculty positions
  • Teaching statements 
  • Diversity statements 
  • Academic application forms 

Applications for Roles Beyond Research

Getting Started with CVs for Non-Research Roles 

Are you putting together your first CV for a non-research role? Here we compare the features of a non-research CV to an academic CV, introduce the 3 types of CV you might use and help you reframe your academic experience for a non-research position. 

Highlighting Relevant Skills  

Are you just getting started with applications for non-research roles and trying to work out which evidence to select to help you evidence the required skills and experience for the job? This video will help you to get started with your applications and work out how to demonstrate your potential.

Cover Letters: Articulating your Motivation for Career Change 

This video will help you to identify where in your cover letter to discuss the motivation for your career change and how to describe it. 

Cover Letters: Highlighting your Transferable Skills 

This video will help you to identify which transferable skills to highlight in your cover letter and how to use examples to relate them to the job profile. 

Additional Resources

Explore example CVs and cover letters for a range of opportunities in our CV and Applications Guide for PhDs and Postdocs.  

Applying for opportunities outside of research? You’ll find lots of resources to support your preparation on our applications and interviews webpage