Careers Network

Doctoral Researchers

Career Support for Doctoral Researchers

The Careers Network provides support to Doctoral Researchers. Whether your desired career is in academia or elsewhere in industry, in the commercial sector, charitable organisation or even if you would like to set up your own business, we are committed to supporting you with careers guidance, coaching, advice and information to enhance your career decision making and smoothyour transition into employment.

For further information, click on the tabs below, and for one-to-one support, book an appointment.

Investigating Career Options

What career path are you likely to follow?

  • Progressive in a chosen occupation or organisation?
  • Several jobs simultaneously?
  • A diverse and varied career?

Whatever path you take you will need to know:

  • What it is that motivates you (what you want).
  • What job options are available (there are more than you think).
  • What is going on in the labour market (new jobs types are being created daily).

 What do researchers do?

  • Read Vitae’s publications about What do researchers do? after their PhD. (You will need to log in to read this material but LU are Vitae members so you just need to register.)
  • Watch case study videos of doctoral graduates working in a range of different roles.

Applications and CVs

Before writing your application or CV

  • Check the application procedure to identify what is required - application form completion, CV attached, covering letter?
  • For on-line applications, check for any word count restrictions
  • Research the job role
  • Research the organisation
  • For each requirement, make some brief notes identifying how you match the requirement eg. “undertaken research - PhD/Researcher at LU “, “teamworking” – “PGR committee rep/research project team member”
  • Consider what you will say about criteria you do not 100% match
  • Recognise level of skill, experience or knowledge required eg. “ability to ….”, “experience of ….”, “substantial knowledge of …”

Whilst writing

  • Analyse the job description and person specification
  • Identify the key requirements
  • Start writing in the order of the requirements for the job (person spec, referring back to job description)
  • Provide evidence, not just statements eg. “Gained excellent oral communication skills from presenting at conferences”, or “received positive feedback from delegates when I explained complex technical information clearly” rather than “I have oral excellent communication skills”
  • Use STAR(R) to answer skills/competency based questions (further details available in our PDF The STAR(R) Technique for Researchers)
  • Make it easy for the reader to find the information they are seeking – eg. use their words, provide signposts, use clear headings
  • More general guidance for writing applications and CVs can be found in our leaflet 
  • If writing a CV, refer to the checklist below‌ - also available in the Make Applications section of our website
  • Double check against person and specification job description, has anything been missed?
  • Ask for feedback – from your Careers Coach, friends or colleagues. Remember it is your application/CV everyone will have a different opinion, you can choose to use what suggestions are made or not
  • Proof read, proof read, proof read 

Academic applications

Guidance and examples are available on Vitae’s website 

Covering letters for academic jobs

Access useful ebooks from

Applications for industry/commercial sector

Follow the suggestions above, but also:

More useful information is available from Target jobs 


Interview Preparation

  • For general advice on preparing, see the information given in the interviews section of our website. For further information for Doctoral Researchers see below.
  • Book an appointment with a careers coach for an interview coaching session to practise before the interview.
  • Review specific information for Doctoral Researchers below.

Whatever the context you should prepare:

  • Yourself - review your CV and your application form.
  • Your knowledge of the organisation – what are their strengths, how does their business fit with your background and expertise, who are their competitors?
  • Your knowledge of the position – what can you offer, what skills and experience do you have which make you a winning candidate.

Academic Interviews

  • Expect to meet academics from the department and at least one from another research field – find out all you can about those on the interview panel, the research team and the institution
  • Refer to the job description to identify key requirements – you will be asked questions about these. You can draft answers to skills based questions in advance using The STAR(R) Technique for Researchers
  • Questions will focus on your research to date, your teaching experience, what technical or specialist knowledge you have, your administrative ability, and how you see your research developing in the future
  • Increasingly academic roles request experience of sourcing funding, publications and conference attendance – prepare and practice answers to these questions so that you look comfortable answering them
  • You may be required to give a presentation on a set topic - bear in mind the audience and ensure the presentation is at an appropriate level of detail
  • In preparation, talk to lecturers in your department about their interview experiences and use this information to inform and improve your interview performance

Typical academic interview questions could include:

  • What interests you most about your research?
  • Describe how you typically approach a project?
  • What problems have arisen and how have you resolved these?
  • If you could change your research in any way, what would you change?
  • How would your supervisor evaluate your work?
  • What methodologies have you chosen and why?
  • To what extent is your research a team project?
  • Where does your research fit in with other work in this area?

Moving into industry/commercial sector

  • Telephone interviews are becoming more popular for initial screening
  • Second interviews may include assessment activities, eg. online tests, group exercise, presentation, as well as a panel interview
  • Refer to the job description to identify key requirements – you will be asked questions about these. You can draft answers to skills based questions in advance using The STAR(R) Technique for Researchers
  • Review your application and CV – this has resulted in your interview invitation, the panel will want to know more about what you have said on your application, do not be tempted to provide a lot of new information.
  • If you are asked to give a presentation, bear in mind the audience and ensure the presentation is at an appropriate level of detail
  • When moving sectors it is vitally important to have a good knowledge of the job roles, the organisations, their competitors and a reasonable level of commercial awareness.
  • You will need to provide convincing answers to questions about your reasons for wanting to move sectors and give examples explaining your transferable skills
  • Strengthen your answers by explaining how what you have to offer benefits the organisation

Questions you ask the panel

If you’ve done sufficient research you will have identified some questions, the answers to which will help you make up your mind about whether the job is for you, if you are offered it. Asking some questions of the panel shows interest and that you have done your research – always ask some questions.

You might want to ask:

  • about training once you are in the post. 
  • how the company/research unit sees itself developing.
  • how many other researchers/staff will be in your unit.
  • what sorts of opportunities there might be for secondment to other departments.
  • what would be the main tasks expected in the first six months.

 It is not appropriate to ask questions about holiday entitlement and benefits at this stage.

Doctoral Researchers Inductions

Inductions aim to help you to understand what a doctorate at Loughborough University is all about, how it is regulated, and recognise some of the issues that you are likely to face over your research period.  We also cover the skills training requirement, with some suggestions for engaging with your own development including opportunities provided by the Doctoral College.  We share information about the support facilities you can access as research students, and some of the events and facilities provided by the Students' Union.  

Inductions provide the opportunity for you to meet staff who are here to support you, to meet other students who are similarly at the start of their studies, and to start to build your own networks on campus.

On-demand recordings about Careers Network support for Doctoral Researchers are available on the Careers Network Learn Module CA007.  (Please note that these were last updated in July 2022, so not all of the details included will be the latest available.)

Enterprise and Business Support

From inspired idea to the next big business start-up, we support Doctoral Researchers on their business journeys by providing valuable opportunities to develop a highly desirable, entrepreneurial mindset.

So if you want to start a business, become self-employed, a freelancer, entrepreneur or even develop your enterprising skillset, benefit from a wide range of enterprise and business support across both our Loughborough and London campuses.

More information about the support we provide can be found on our website, or you can contact us directly at


Doctoral Researchers are welcome to attend any event organised by Careers Network, including Careers Fairs, employer presentations and central workshops.

Research Conference

An extremely popular, multi-disciplinary and celebratory event providing attendees with an excellent opportunity to network with one another, whilst learning more about the vast range of research conducted across the University.  This event is held annually in the Autumn Term.  Book via the Doctoral College website, where you will need to login in using your University username and password.