Non-academic Careers


If you are moving into or considering the non-academic sector, here you will find two sets of resources:
Published Resources: useful papers with brief abstracts, some from our own research
Online Resources: strategies and tools with brief descriptions


Published Resources

Non-academic careers

Haapakorpi, A. (2017) Doctorate holders outside the academy in Finland: Academic engagement and industry-specific competence. Journal of Education and Work, 30:1, 53-68.
Research and development jobs prevailed in the private sector. When hired to do other work, this was usually particular and demanding tasks or roles related to their academic status and varied as to job sector. Employers were particularly concerned that PhD graduates have industry-specific knowledge; further, it was hoped that the graduate would advance collaboration with universities and enhance the professional status of the organisations that had hired them.

McAlpine, L. (2016). Post-PhD non-academic careers: Intentions during and after degree. International Journal for Researcher Development. 7 (1) DOI:10.1108/ijrd-04-2015-0010.
This study followed eight post-PhD researchers originally recruited in Canada and the UK during their degrees and followed them after graduation in positions outside academia. Change in career intention towards non-academic careers sometimes occurred during the degree, but was sometimes present beforehand. Further, clarity of career vision and strategic career thinking and action during the degree influenced their potential to be competitive in the jobs they were seeking. Still, most were able to articulate how the PhD was helpful in their present positions.

Kyvik, S., & Olsen, T. (2012). The relevance of doctoral training in different labour markets. Journal of Education and Work, 25(2), 205-224.
This study examined the relevance of thesis, coursework and generic skills for careers in a) academia, b) the non-academic research job market and c) the non-research workplaces, with findings based on a survey of over 1000 Norwegian PhD holders in 2002 and 2005 done in 2007 in a range of disciplines. The analysis showed there were virtually no differences between the 3 groups in the extent to which they reported using the different elements of PhD training. :

Cruz-Castro, L., & Sanz Menendez, L. (2005). The employment of PhDs in firms: Trajectories, mobility and innovation. Research Evaluation, 14, 57-69.
This Spanish study found that in the private sector whether or not there was an R and D unit in the firm influenced the hiring practices that emerged. Of companies with such units, 68.3% sought out PhD grads. In firms without such units, 52.6 % of job hires were the result of the graduates making the contact. Further, previous hiring of PhD graduates made companies more open to further hiring. Interestingly, those doing research related to their PhD research did not feel overqualified, while others did. 


Online Resources

Sites to look for jobs Very helpful PDF. Useful site for positions outside the academy Jobs outside the academy for PhD graduates. Useful site for those looking outside the academy. Career resource for Arts and Humanities PhD graduates. Job board and career service for life sciences graduates.

Networking and job hunting

Decoding Academia: Explaining your academic skills to non-academic employers. A presentation by Dr. Danielle Barkley of McGill Career Planning Service (CaPS). Clear explanation of job networking ideas along with articles related to job hunting. Preparing for the interview. Community focused on non-academic jobs and development.

Is it time to look for another job? Quiz to assess your degree of satisfaction with your job. Range of resources for job-seekers. Helps science PhD grads to prepare for the changing demands of today's job market and to provide a voice for early career scientists, includes job listings, career info, information on finding employment. Science career basics.