PhD students and researchers wanting to pursue an academic career will need a range of experience, built up during (and after) the period of PhD study.
LSE PhD Graduates tell their tales of progressing into academia
- Ruth Garland (Media and Comms 2014) “an emerging scholar at 50 – odd” now Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire
- David Hope (Government 2016) Lecturer in Political Economy at King’s College London and Visiting Fellow in Inequalities in the LSE International Inequalities Institute
- Caroline Varin (International Relations 2012) Lecturer in Security and International Organisations at Regent’s University London and Associate Fellow at the Global South Unit at LSE
- Katsuhiko (Katsu) Yoshikawa (Department of Management 2016) Assistant Professor, Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Antai College of Economics and Management in China.
Four elements for an academic career
Check this list of elements most often seen in academic job specifications. Are you building portfolio of expertise in:
- Research – yes, that’s your PhD thesis, but it’s also: going to / presenting at conferences, publishing in the best journals, building an academic network, knowing your field and the other players. Show you have broad horizons, know what researchers are doing in other institutions and have affiliations with appropriate learned societies or associations. Organise panels, seminars or events relating to your discipline. A research plan showing your strategy for research and publication after the PhD shows you’re thinking ahead and will continue to be productive.
- Teaching – show you have a range of experience with large groups, small groups in seminars, in lectures at undergraduate and at master’s level; gained here and at other universities. The Cert HE teaching qualification is well regarded and shows you think seriously about pedagogy.
- Public engagement – take your work outside academia and show it has relevance to a wider audience through the media, social media, public talks, in schools and so on. If you can show impact outside academia the recruiting institution will value your contribution to their REF submission.
- Service to the university – show you 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, work at a student recruitment event. Or set up something new! This helps the selection committee understand that you’ll be a good colleague, aware of and willing to contribute to the range of essential commitments in an academic department.
The activities in these four areas need to be presented in a tailored way to show your potential to fulfil all the requirements of the specific role. Not just summarising past experience. It takes time to achieve this by tailoring, re-ordering and re-naming sections of your CV. Use the guidance on preparing your written materials on our PhD academic careers webpages. If you are applying in Germany there is information on line and for the US we have tailored information on the US job market.
Selection committees often ask you to send additional materials such as a research plan, teaching statement and writing samples. Then there’s the very important covering letter or statement of motivation.
Jobs.ac.uk has current job descriptions and you can see the requirements sought be employing departments. This will help you start to tailor your application materials but be aware that time is needed to refine your CV and covering letter to meet competitive standards and get you to interview. When you are ready there is information about academic interviews too.
LSE Careers can help
We can help you learn to do all this. See the guidance on our website about applying for jobs inside academia. We have books in the Careers Resource Centre and slides from seminars on preparing to work in academia on our website.
Attending our seminars and events for PhD students and research staff complement the support offered in your department. Every term we have events on academic careers, often with recent alumni speakers and these are advertised on CareerHub too.
Confidential one to one appointments with Catherine Reynolds, the PhD careers consultant, can be used to plan your career; to review your CV and covering letters and to prepare for interview. Book an appointment here.
Good luck with your applications and make good use of all the support we offer! Find out more here.