Following from Ellie’s very helpful post on resources for academic job-seekers, here’s a companion piece on resources for those seeking to transition outside of academia. Because there is such a plethora of information out there on the topic, I decided to go for sites that curate links, both UK and non-UK based to allow readers find resources that best match their unique needs and situation. I also threw in a couple of “bonus” resources that could be a good start for those seeking career inspiration more in general.
UK-based career resources
A comprehensive resource pulling together tools for researchers to help them think about career options outside of academia, starting with an exploration of their own personal skills and strengths and how these can be translated into an employer-friendly language and what to do if you need further development. You can also browse through career stories and explore how other fellow UK PhDs managed the transition out of academia.
Jobs.ac.uk have produced a number of ebooks which could be of use to PhDs considering their options outside of academia – you will find ebooks on career planning for PhDs, different career paths for PhDs and researchers, all of them complete with practical tips and advice from researchers across different fields.
A website developed by Chris Humphreys who graduated with a PhD in history and transitioned into project management and now supports other PhDs to find successful non-academic careers and find professional jobs that match their skills and knowledge.
Non-UK based career resources (mostly US/Canada)
A veritable treasure trove of resources for PhD students and graduates who are exploring alternatives to academia. Do bear in mind that most resources are geared towards a US/Canadian audience but a lot of the advice should be still applicable in the UK context. The resources also include a list of career coaches which may be useful if you are interested in some individualised support to help you progress in your career.
A collection of articles on “alt-ac” (alternative academic) careers which focus on career development, transferable skills and career options outside of academia. The essays are geared towards US graduate students but a lot of the advice will still work for those based in the UK. Importantly, the essay form allows the authors to go beyond just the superficial level of advice along the lines of “the 5 tricks to make your CV stand out” and gives them ample space to look at larger issues that PhDs seeking non-academic careers are dealing with.
The Versatile PhD provides info on non-academic careers for PhD students and graduates. It is a supportive Web-based community where you can get advice from PhDs and ABDs working outside the academy. One of the most useful features are the Panel Discussion Archives where you can view panellist biographies and read their responses to participant questions for information on PhD careers in various industries. Unfortunately some of the content is only available to subscriber institutions, mostly in the US but the discussion forum is open to everyone and well worth visiting for practical and emotional support.
Finally, here’s a couple of resources I really like which for the most part have very little to do with academic careers as such but could be helpful in terms of looking at the bigger picture and answering questions such as “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. All three resources below can be really useful especially if you feel a bit stuck and are looking for inspiration to start looking at things a bit differently.
The best bit about Happen to Your Career, a business provisiding coaching and career transition services, is the free weekly podcast which explores stories of regular people who transitioned into careers that make them feel fulfilled and happy. I love listening to very diverse career stories, from park ranger to high-flying business owner and everything in between and learn about the very different ways in which people found an outlet for their unique strengths and abilities in the working world.
A very interactive website written by a hiring manager which follows the Q&A format with readers submitting questions related to their working life and/or job-hunting and the author offering answers in a very practical, no-nonsense style. I kept returning to the site when I was in the midst of job hunting and looking for good examples of sample interview answers and general interview advice and find it helpful now to support my own professional development as project manager and line manager. Even though it is US-based, it’s quite a good resource for people to put themselves into the shoes of the recruiter and use that knowledge to help them improve their job applications and interview preparation.
I mentioned the site previously in my post on approaches to building a lifelong academic career; it is definitely one at the top of the list of resources I would recommend to anyone looking for advice on time management, productivity and finding a job that is aligned with personal values and strengths, all of which could be useful for both academic and non-academic job seekers.
I would love to hear from others about resources they found helpful in their own post-PhD transitions!