Skip to main content

Career planning timeline for postgraduate research students

This Careers timeline gives you a guide to the kinds of career activities you might want to consider as you progress through your PhD.

Year 1 (full time), 1/2 (part time)

  • Settle in as a doctoral researcher.
  • Start to build networks with research group members, colleagues in your department cohort, people working in similar research fields and in fields of work that interest you.
  • Familiarise yourself with the training opportunities provided by the Doctoral Skills Programme and plan which ones to attend.
  • Get involved with a range of activities within and outside of research. This will help to build the skills that employers in a range of sectors are looking for – such as communication, team-working and managing-up.
  • Consider activities such as volunteering, public engagement, committee roles and work experience – our developing your employability web page has a full list of activities and links to more information.
  • Develop a reflective mindset – consider which aspects of your doctorate and other activities you enjoy and are good at. This can give you useful insights into the kinds of activities you might want to take into a future career.
  • Build awareness of your own strengths and development needs – reflection will help here, but you can also check out the resources in the Careers Get Started Guide on Career Options available on MyFuture, especially the Find your Future tool.
  • Start to be curious about career options after the doctorate. Building a sense of where you’re headed – and this is always a process that happens over time – helps you decide where to focus your time and development. Our webpage for researchers and Get Started Guide for Researchers available on MyFuture have a wealth of information on career options after the doctorate.

Year 2 (full time), 3/4 (part time)

  • Start to focus in on the factors that are important to you in a career. These could include: using your strengths, making a difference, work environment, what you’re doing day-to-day, salary and geographical location.
  • Start to Identify jobs and sectors you are interested in pursuing after the doctorate. Use the Careers website and Researchers Get Started Guide to research roles and select those most desirable. Speak to a Careers Consultant team to:
    • Clarify career direction.
    • Identify a good fit between you and the role/s that appeal to you.
    • Identify your unique strengths and selling points.
  • Expand your networks, and use these to build contacts and to help you look into possible career ideas. Talk to people already doing the jobs you are interested in - Bath Connection and LinkedIn are good resources for this.
  • Consider options for work experience alongside the doctorate; this could include internships, part-time jobs, consultancy and teaching. Our guide to work experience for doctoral students is a wealth of useful links and information.
  • Start getting your CV in order – see tips and examples from the Careers Application, CV and Cover letter guide, and our videos on CVs and statements for academic jobs and CVs and cover letters for outside of academia available on MyFuture.
  • Consider how to market yourself and your research skills effectively for your target sectors/employers – this video on marketing researcher skills will help.
  • Continue to build your transferable skills and get involved in a range of activities inside and outside of research.
  • Attend Careers Fairs and employer presentations.
  • Attend conferences to expand your network, become comfortable talking about your research and promote your research externally.
  • If an academic career is your long-term aim, start to make plans for publications, get some teaching experience, network with academics in your field and think about the future research areas you’d like to focus on.

Year 3 (full time), 4 onwards (part time)

  • Identify specific job roles you are interested in pursuing after the doctorate.
  • Check out careers fairs and employers’ presentations.
  • Plan regular time for job searching. Be aware of timelines for organisations you may be interested in. Larger organisations with graduate schemes recruit in the Autumn to start in the following Autumn. If you’re applying for postdocs or one-off jobs in smaller companies, you should be applying 2-3 months before you’re able to start work.
  • Break job-hunting down into small, manageable steps.
  • Identify key and/or desirable employers in your chosen sectors.
  • Familiarise yourself with appropriate job-seeking strategies for the jobs and sectors that interest you, and find out where, when and how suitable vacancies are advertised.
  • Get prepared for interviews – use the resources in our Interviews and Assessment Get Started Guide available on MyFuture.
  • Apply for some jobs to develop good practice – remember practice makes perfect!
  • Feedback on applications is available from Applications Advisers.
  • Interview practice is available with Careers Consultants.

Career planning and preparation are key

  • Take time throughout your doctorate to explore career options.
  • Make use of the careers support, training and development opportunities available to you as a doctoral researcher at the University of Bath.
  • Identify skills gaps and set goals for development.
  • Be prepared – high levels of competition are inevitable in career paths both inside and outside academia.
  • Consider how to market your research skills effectively for the job sector you are targeting.
  • Finding a good career match involves considerable research – but this will be easy, because this is what you do and are good at, and you may be able to draw on previous experience and contacts.

Further help for postgraduate research students

On this page