Careers Network

Doctoral Researchers

White circles on a purple background containing icons which represent the support offered as part of the Phd Futures Programme: Professional careers support; also listed as Expert careers coaching, Tailored events, International student support and Online tools and resources.

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 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 smooth your transition into employment.

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

PhD Futures Checklist

Work your way through your PhD FUTURES checklist, to explore, investigate and learn what you can and make the most of the support and resources out there for you. We put this checklist together to help make your journey smoother. We’re here to help!

SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE: Book individual coaching appointments for guidance tailored to your individual needs. Don’t forget to keep in touch with your supervisor.

ATTEND PRESENTATIONS: Make the most of our career related presentations to inform your career planning  and next steps.

EXPLORE YOUR CAREER OPTIONS: Use the information on our website related to employment, visas and setting up your own business with support from the Loughborough Enterprise Network.

ATTEND CAREERS FAIRS AND EVENTS: Meet large and small employers to explore career options, develop networks  and apply for roles.

DEVELOP APPLICATION TECHNIQUES: Refine your CV, cover letters and application forms to maximise your chances in the  recruitment process.

IMPROVE YOUR INTERVIEW PERFORMANCE: Book interview coaching and attend Mock Assessment Centres for employer coaching  and feedback.

BOOST YOUR ACADEMIC SUCCESS: Enhance your academic and study skills through group coaching and workshops. Sessions include Exam Success, Procrastination, Motivation for your Studies, Time Management 101, Juggling Priorities, and Facing Challenges.

ACCESS SUPPORT FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: Use our tools and resources to practise employer tests, improve your interview technique  and explore job opportunities in the UK and abroad.

MAKE A PLAN: Make plans and set goals for your next steps, develop contacts in your field of expertise and be open-minded in your career planning. Our Profiling for Success tools can help you determine your personality type and find career areas and skills to explore.

ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS: Map out your journey by considering your end goal and working backwards, using Personal Best to help you. Keep your wellbeing in mind as you balance your studies, job applications  and career planning.

PhD Futures Central Programme of Events

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

Our brand new PhD Futures central programme of events tailored for PhD students will begin with the following.  Details of how to book will appear here shortly and be promoted to all PhD students.

  • Create a CV - April 24th 2024
  • Career planning for PhDs - May 1st 2024
  • Fellowship applications - May 9th 2024
  • How to find work experience to complement your CV - May 22nd 2024

Career Route Planner for Doctoral Researchers

Copies of the Career Route Planner for Doctoral Researchers can be picked up between 11 and 3 on weekdays in term time from either of our Careers Hubs (Stewart Mason SMB 0.06 or West Park Teaching Hub WPT 0.07) and from the foyer of Graduate House.  

The planner takes your through each stage of your PhD journey and identifies what steps you can take to conisder, plan and prepare for your next career steps.

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.

Useful Websites for Researchers

Useful Websites for Researchers

General careers information - providing training and development for researchers and the research support community.  Of particular interest, What do Researchers Do? publications and Doctoral Graduates case studies - large range of ebooks supporting career development of researchers whether staying in academia or transitioning beyond

Research Councils websites - UK Research and Innovation works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish - Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) - Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) - Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) - Economics & Social Research Council (ESRC) - Medical Research Council (MRC) - Natural Environment Research Council - Science and Technology Facilities Council

Professional / Higher Education related websites  European-wide federation representing doctoral candidates and junior researchers at a European level in matters of education, research, and professional development of their careers - information for research staff of the University and College Union Website. - electronic discussion list with on-line resources for researchers.

Sector specific resources – food & drink federation with searchable employer section. The Science magazine contains articles, case studies, careers advice and links to vacancy sources for scientists. - The MSCA are the European Union’s flagship funding programme for doctoral education and postdoctoral training of researchers. – United Nations Environment Programme - Biodiversity and conservation organisations. - UK Science Park Association.

Moving into careers beyond academia

Research Careers Outside Academia

Vacancy Websites

Postgraduate and academic focussed job sites in the UK

ACU - Current vacancies with the Association of Commonwealth Universities
Find a PhD -  Database of postdoc and university jobs, also details of Masters, PhDs and Professional doctorates.
Find a Post Searchable database for postdoctoral research opportunities. - International job listings for academics, administrators, support staff, researchers and technicians.
PhD Jobs - A dedicated website for PhD holding job searchers in the UK. Includes: searchable jobs vacancy list, CV posting, recruiter profiles, newsletter -  The UK's main graduate careers website containing vacancy information, links to international recruitment websites and general help with CVs, covering letters and interview preparation.
Recruitment & Employment Confederation -  provides links to recruitment agencies across the UK, includes a search function. 
Research Gate - offers tools tailored to researchers' need. You can find new research contacts in people performing in the same field or in different fields using the same techniques as you do. ResearchGate connects researchers and information.
Research is Cool - jobs database (UK & international) for early career researchers. Includes information on funding opportunities.
Science Recruitment Group - specialises in vacancies within the Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical industries.
The Times Higher Education Supplement -  includes academic and academic & related vacancies within academic institutions.

Jobs and postdoctoral positions in Europe

Academic Jobs - is an independent company with the sole objective of facilitating recruitment and providing career related services to European Academic Institutions.
Association Bernard Gregory (ABG) - – for anyone who obtained a PhD in the last six years and who is looking for employment in France, Belgium, UK and Japan.
Association of Common Wealth Universities - A site search for 'vacancies' provides links to sites for seeking job opportunities in Commonwealth universities.
European Science Foundation - includes social sciences and humanities.
European Space Agency - postdoctoral research fellowship programmes in a variety of disciplines related to space science, space applications or space technology.
International Unit- Global Opportunities for UK Higher Education designed to encourage students and scholars to spend time in higher education institutions in countries other than their own.
Researchers Mobility Portal -  for researchers looking for work in Europe. Provides job vacancies, a section for posting your CV and a range of other career resources. Includes a link for a similar portal for Canada.

Jobs and postdoctoral positions in the USA

After College -  Career network for college students and recent graduates (first degree and grad students). You can browse by industry and location for PhD and postdoctoral opportunities. US and Canadian focus but includes jobs overseas. Has wizards for salary and cost of living. Alternative Careers for PhDs   a US site offering advice and resources for PhDs interested in non-academic jobs.
American Association for the Advancement of Science -  dedicated to careers (academic and otherwise) in science. You can get information and advice on issues like funding and career planning as well as vacancies and opportunities for funding, postdoctoral research opportunities and jobs.
Post Doc Jobs -   searchable vacancy list, information about scholarships and fellowships. Very comprehensive section on writing resumes.

Jobs and postdoctoral positions in the Rest of the World

Association of Commonwealth Universities -  A site search for 'vacancies' provides links to sites for seeking job opportunities in Commonwealth universities
Australian Research Council - funds fellowships for researchers at postdoctoral level to undertake research of national and international significance, and to broaden their research experience.

Australian Universities -  General information about Australian universities
Careers in Africa -  brings together high calibre graduates, MBA’s and professionals seeking careers in Africa with leading multinational and regional companies.
Crown Agents -  An international development company providing direct assistance, consultancy and training for public sector modernisation, particularly in financial management, procurement and logistics. Formerly a British public corporation which transferred to the private sector as a limited company in 1997 - owned by a new entity, The Crown Agents Foundation. Members of the Foundation are companies and other international organisations with a keen interest in our activities.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office  Civil Service, includes links to consultancy& research contracts  – International job listings for academics, administrators, support staff, researchers and technicians. - The UK's main graduate careers website  - Country Guide - useful resource if you are thinking of working overseas or for international students returning to their home country. -  Main resource page for investigating work or study abroad
UK – India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI) - Research Fellowships
United Nations United Nations Home Page and Jobs
World Health Organisation (WHO) The 'Employment' link on home page leads to a page of jobs in which the latest vacancies appear furthest down the page. 'Programmes' lists all divisions and offices of WHO, along with current programmes  World Health Organisation Civil Society link provides useful info on NGO partners
World Bank -  Careers Home page & Job Vacancies (via FAQs or Search function)

Labour Market / Employer Surveys The Warwick Institute for Employment Research is one of Europe's leading centres for research in the labour market field. The Institute for Employment Studies is an independent, national centre of expertise on productivity, manpower planning and labour market change - good country-specific labour market information.         


Loughborough University Careers Network is not responsible for the content or accessibility of external links. A link from our website does not imply endorsement.                                                         

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 the tab below)
  • Make it easy for the reader to find the information they are seeking – eg. use their words, provide signposts, use clear headings
  • If writing a CV, refer to the checklist in the tab below‌
  • 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:

  • Describe your experience in their language
  • Demonstrate your commercial awareness
  • Use the STAR(R) technique (see this in tab below)

More useful information is available from Target jobs 

The STAR(R) Technique for Researchers

What is the STAR(R) Technique?

  • A useful tool to answer competency-based questions (examples below).
  • Using this to answer questions (on your application or at interview) to provide comprehensive and concise answers.
  • The second ‘R’ (Reflection) is an addition, which may be useful for some situations, or you could just end with ‘R’ for Result.

Examples of competency/skills-based questions

  • Tell us about a time you have successfully worked as part of a team.
  • Provide an example of where you have analysed a large amount of complex data, and how you achieved this.
  • Describe a time when you have demonstrated excellent time management skills.
  • We are looking for problem-solvers. How do you solve problems?

Using STAR(R) to answer questions:

Situation: when/where/what – set the scene

Task: the goal, aim or challenge

Action: what you did/your role

Result: the outcome

Reflection: what you learnt

Some notes:

  • See the examples below, which help explain the use of STAR
  • Remember, if you are demonstrating your ability to work in a team make sure you talk about the action you took (not the team)
  • Results need to be as quantifiable as possible, something that can be referred to or looked up if necessary

Academia STAR(R) examples

Job Spec Criteria – Teaching experience

Situation:         University of Southampton, Post-Doctoral Research Associate

Task:                Lectured PhD students and UG students in C++ programming language

Action:             Created course materials; delivered lectures; assessed students’ work; ran discussion groups

Result:              95% pass rate over 3 years; student award

Reflection:        Learnt how to design and deliver effective learning to a range of students to high standards


Job Spec Criteria – Research funding experience

Situation:          University of Bath, Research Assistant

Task:                 To secure funding for 2 years from EPSRC to continue Systems Methodology research

Action:              Supporting construction of EPSRC bid; Co-represented to funding committee

Result:               Funding secured and project commenced; 4 research papers (3 co-authored, 1 sole author)

Reflection:         Learnt to work collaboratively; experienced difficulty of successful bid writing

How to translate into application or interview answer

Teaching experience

As a Lecturer in IS at Southampton University I was responsible for delivering modules in

C++ programming to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.  To achieve this I created course materials, delivered lectures, assessed students’ work and supervised students’ projects. Over a three year period I achieved a 95% pass rate and one student received an award for their high quality work.

Industry STAR examples

Situation:          Project Management, Loughborough University Research Associate

Task:                 To manage research project to be completed on time and within budget

Action:              Created project plan; identified milestones; managed resources and personnel; monitored                                 progress

Result:               Project delivered on time and to budget; funding for further project awarded as a result


Situation:           Team working, University of Bath Research Assistant

Task:                  To work with interdisciplinary team to deliver research findings on project

 Action:               Organised team meetings with members from different locations; operated IT equipment to  include off-site contributions

 Result:              Team members met each other face to face or virtually; good team relationships developed

How to translate into an application or interview answer

Managing a complex project

Whilst completing my PhD at Loughborough University I was responsible conducting research in *** and delivering results to meet submission, conference and publication dates.  To achieve this I created a project plan, plotted milestones, managed resources and personnel and monitored progress. As a result of my excellent project management, I was able to submit my PhD thesis ahead of the three year timeframe.

Creating your STAR(R) stories

  • These can be collected and prepared in advance of application completion or interview attendance
  • Identify your areas of experience e.g. jobs, PhD completion, area of interest, voluntary work
  • Think about key competences for roles you seek and start creating your STAR(R) stories
  • It’s useful to have two or three examples for the same competency, so that you can choose which is the most appropriate to use

Preparation and practice

  • Practise your answers by talking through your STAR(R) stories, either to yourself or by answering questions from others
  • You could record yourself and listen to your responses (be kind to yourself!)
  • Take care not to just remember answers to regurgitate as they will sound stilted                                                                                                                                    

CV Checklist for Researchers

Please also see the Make Applications section of our website for further details and CV examples.

Prepare and tailor your CV

Master CV - start with a master CV which contains everything (and tailor your CV for each opportunity).

Style - is your CV style appropriate for the organisation/sector?  Two page (most common), one page (work experience, some city jobs, some consultancy jobs), design CV, hybrid/skills-based CV.

Research - have you researched the organisation/sector? (websites, literature, employer contacts, company objectives/values).

Matching - have you identified the core skills and qualities required for the specific opportunity/sector? Provide evidence of these throughout your CV (via the sections below).

CV Structure and Content

Order of Sections - will vary depending on the role for which you are applying, your work experience and the stage of your career.  Always tailor your CV to the person specification, referring to the job description.

Name (required)

  • Big and bold as a heading – no need to write Curriculum Vitae as a title.

Personal Details (required)

  • Include name, phone number, email and personalised LinkedIn address, possibly portfolio for designers. Optional to include home
  • International Students – include a statement about your work permission/visa at the top of your CV.
  • Not recommended: date of birth, marital status, gender, photograph (not for UK, maybe for Europe).

Personal Profile or Career Objective (optional)

  • Short, targeted and realistic. A couple of sentences about who you are and what you have to offer, relevant to the job to which you are applying. Your unique selling points and your career aims.
  • Include only if it adds value to your CV. It needs to be well written to impress (think abstract to a journal article – will it encourage further reading).

Qualifications (not Education) (required, but see Order of Sections above and Relevant Experience below)

  • Add qualifications, institution and dates attended in reverse chronological order (it may not be necessary to include GCSEs when you have gained much higher qualifications).
  • Explain what your PhD experience brings to the role e.g. analytical thinking, problem solving.

Work Experience (required, although see Order of Sections above)

  • Add relevant/additional/voluntary work experience (role title, organisation and dates worked in reverse chronological order), including transferable skills (or detail these in Key Skills).
  • B. avoid predictable role summaries; include interesting/challenging key achievements and tasks.

Relevant Experience – this is a useful section for researchers, it enables you to include (relevant) experience from your studies and work in one section, keeping it high on the CV and making it more targeted to the role.

Key Skills (optional, or include under Work Experience)

  • Include IT, language and technical skills as well as transferable skills, always tailored to the role.
  • Include Driving Licence only if a requirement of the role.
  • Avoid empty clichés (e.g. good networker), be specific, give evidence and link to your experience.

Awards and Achievements (optional)

  • e.g. sport achievements, academic awards, Doctoral College awards.

Extra-Curricular Experience (optional)

  • Role title, organisation and dates worked in reverse chronological order, e.g. volunteering, societies.

Positions of Responsibility (optional, may already be included within Work Experience)

  • Role title, organisation and dates worked in reverse chronological order, e.g. student committees.

Interests (optional) Include those of relevance to the employer and which sell you well.

Referees (included only if requested, may already be in application form; may be useful on academic CV)

  • Include 2 referees’ names, job titles, organisations, email addresses and phone numbers.

Additional Sections for an Academic CV

Teaching (required) – provide details of any teaching experience/qualifications you have gained; list the modules you would be able to teach (refer to relevant institution’s course programmes).

Research (required) – provide details of your research activity as well as your area/s of interest.

Funding (required) – most academic jobs request this experience, if you do not have any at least find out how funding opportunities are identified and how funding applications are completed; explain you have this knowledge/understanding/awareness.

Publications – attach list, including conference papers/presentations as an appendix to the main 2 page CV.

Administration (required) – detail your experience of marking, student recruitment, committee chair/membership, exam invigilation etc.


Tense - use past tense and avoid using ‘I’?  e.g. Worked collaboratively in a team…  Managed a project to….

Bullet points - are you using bullet points with high impact action words – e.g. Created, Achieved, Presented.

Terminology - write words in full e.g. department not dept. and use technical or industry terminology where appropriate.  Match terminology/language to that used in job description/person specification.

Concise - Have you been concise and specific when articulating your skills and experience?

Visual Impact

Font – modern fonts e.g. Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Verdana. Size 11 minimum. Best practice suggests avoiding italics, underlining and emboldening in body of text.

Headings – do they stand out?  Embolden/use larger font size, rather than underline.

Margins and spacing – does your CV look good visually? (not too dense, good use of white space and starting new sections on a new page where possible).

Printed – how does your CV look when printed? (for hard copy, print single sided on good quality paper with a quality printer).

‘F style’ reading – consider the letter F; most employers read CVs across the top third of each page and down the left hand side. Ensure these areas include your most important and impressive details.

Consistency – does your CV look professional and have you used a consistent style throughout? e.g. font, size of text, layout of dates, use of emboldening, headings etc.

Review and Feedback

Gaps – have you accounted for all periods of time with no gaps in your history?

Quality check – has your CV been quality checked to eliminate any spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors? Ask other people to quality check. A simple error can lead to your CV being rejected.

Feedback – your CV may benefit from feedback from a variety of sources; these can include careers professionals, people working in the industry/sector, academic etc.

Objective – does your CV meet your initial objectives for the role you are applying for? Have you successfully matched your skills, knowledge and experience to the job?

And finally, remember:

  • The CV is part of a wider process; CV, application form, cover letter, LinkedIn profile.
    Apply similar rules and levels of quality to these documents.
  • Unusual cases – illness, disability, repeated year, change of degree. Seek advice from your Careers Coach or department.
  • A good CV will be effective in winning you an interview invitation.
    However, it is always work in progress and the appearance of the finished CV is up to you.

Current Best Practice – taken from extensive research data of 7300 Senior HR/Line Managers, compiled by Career Management Consultants Ltd, one of the UK’s top outplacement consultancies, now part of Saville Group. Contained in ‘Knockout CV’ by John Lees.


 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 in the tab above.
  • 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 practise 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 in the tab above.
  • 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.




Business and Enterprise 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

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.