For PhD students and researchers wanting an academic career, our advice is to add four areas of expertise to your portfolio to meet the requirements of a job specification:

Research

Yes, that’s your PhD thesis, but it’s also: going to conferences, publishing in the best journals, building your academic network, knowing your field and the other players. It’s having a plan to publish beyond your thesis; more ideas and where to publish them. Broaden your horizons and learn what researchers are doing in other institutions. Learn about Open Access publishing with LSE Library and see the national Open Access Week. Join academic associations and set up conference alerts.

Teaching

Get as much as is feasible with large groups, small groups in seminars, in lectures at undergraduate and at master’s level. Do it here and at other universities and get the Cert HE teaching qualification. Think about how you talk about your teaching, know some of the pedagogy informing your practice, read some case studies and have alternative approaches.

Public engagement

Take your work outside academia and show it has relevance to a wider audience through the media, social media, consultancy, public talks, in schools, work with practitioners/professional and so on.

Service to the academy

Show you really care and want to help your university strive for excellence. Join a committee, represent your peers, offer to support a conference, organise an event, work as a research assistant, contribute to a grant application. Or set up something new!

Numbers one and two above are the priority, but don’t forget three and four. You’ll need something to say about these too. Maintain a log of your activity, keep web links to evidence of your involvement, then use LSE Careers events and seminars to help you make really effective job applications.

Four ways we can help you

1. Set your priorities and achieve your goals

LSE Careers is here to support your career development and aspirations – use our information and get in touch for individual help. Catherine Reynolds is the LSE Careers consultant with responsibility for PhD students and research staff and has appointments available throughout the year. Book an appointment to talk through your career thinking or for help with recruitment and selection processes.

2. Learn more about the UK higher education sector

develop a deeper understanding of UK academic career paths and the structure of the UK higher education sector. Are you baffled by acronyms like HEFCE, REF, RAE and QAA? Read the slides from our understanding the UK academic job market seminar for PhD students and research staff.

3. Plan to attend our events

Our events will start back up in Michaelmas Term – look out for more details and booking on CareerHub nearer the time.

4. Start to check out vacancies

Look at the selection criteria and really start to understand how you will match them. Jobs.ac.uk is the best source for UK vacancies, but we also list equivalent sources from other countries on our PhD job search web pages and CareerHub.

Is the USA the place for you to work? We have information about USA academic careers and information from a talk by blogger Dr Karen Kelsky about cracking the academic job market in the USA.

One last thing

Enjoy your PhD and don’t panic!

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