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What research staff can expect from a Careers Service appointment and how to prepare

Find out about how Careers Service appointments can help you as a member of research staff and what to do to make sure you get the most out of your session.

How we can help

So, you’ve booked an appointment with the Careers Service – but what actually happens at one? Will your career path magically open up before you during it? Will everything become clear as a result?

Much as we’d love the answer to those questions to be ‘Yes’, the appointment is really the start of the process where you begin to figure these things out for yourself. We aim to help you clarify the issues most important to you, and enable you to make progress in managing your career, no matter what stage you come to us at.

At peak times, appointments are in very high demand and you may not be able to have multiple sessions. To make sure you get the most out of your appointment, make sure you know what to expect and how to prepare by reading our guidance below.

Appointment information

We offer specific appointments for research staff. For more information and details of how to book go to Careers Service support for researchers.

Common topics

Common topics discussed with research staff can include:

  • I’m nearing the end of my contract and don’t have another job yet/haven’t decided what to do next. How can I start to make some plans?
  • I’d like to do this – but I’ve also always wanted to do that – how can I choose and which would be better?
  • I’m thinking of leaving my current job.
  • I’m not sure what jobs I’d be good at.
  • I don’t know what skills I’ve gained through working in research.
  • I’m wanting to plan the next steps in my academic career.
  • I want to move outside of academia but don’t know what my options are.

What to expect

The appointment will take place with a professional, impartial Careers Adviser. It will be private, confidential, free of charge, and can be used to discuss your career in any way you wish.

An appointment will give you ‘time out’ to explore your options, reflect on your progress, look at yourself objectively and think about the implications of any decision you are contemplating. If one appointment proves not to be long enough, you are welcome to book another.

Appointments can be hard work – a Careers Adviser may challenge your statements and will want you to do most of the talking. We aim to make the picture clearer for you and to enable you to plan your next steps. You may not leave with all the answers – but you should be closer to finding them. For research staff, appointments can also be used for feedback on CVs, cover letters and personal statements/application forms, for jobs both inside and outside of academia.

We are happy to use appointments for research staff for interview preparation by focusing on some of the questions you are most concerned about. We also offer practice interview appointments where you will be asked typical questions (tailored to your upcoming interview) and given feedback on your performance.

This is your appointment, so you set the agenda, the pace, and are totally in control. We, as Careers Advisers, are here to facilitate your career choice and development, not to lead it.

A Career Adviser may try to:

  • Help draw out your priorities, values and expectations.
  • Gently challenge your motivations.
  • Encourage you to reflect on what you have done already.
  • Help you to develop your understanding of your chosen paths.
  • Help you to weigh up your options.
  • Make suggestions about potential resources, strategies, sectors or pathways.
  • Provide answers to some straightforward questions.

A Careers Adviser cannot:

  • Make a decision for you about which option/path to choose from.
  • Tell you which jobs you will be suited to or what you will enjoy doing.
  • Tell you which employers are recruiting.
  • Tell you everything you will need to know about your chosen career.
  • Tell you which employers can recruit Tier 4 Visa holders or give visa advice.
  • Tell you what to do!

How to get the most out of your appointment

Doing some preparation and thinking beforehand will help you to get the most out of the appointment.

But I don’t know what I want to do – how can I prepare anything?

On the face of it, that is tricky. You might be surprised how many other people feel the same! But even if you don’t know what you want to do, there are some things you could think about:

I know what I want to do, I’m just not sure how

Have a look at our web pages for researchers which include information on resources to help you explore different job and sector options. If you can’t find enough detail or need help planning a strategy, a Careers Adviser will be better able to help you if you’ve done some groundwork.

I just want help with my interview technique

In a research staff appointment, a Careers Adviser will help you focus on the questions you are most concerned about and talk through strategies for answering them. If you bring the advert and job/person specification with you, they could also help you predict questions that might be asked. As with any interview situation, though, preparation is key, so please come having done some homework on the organisation you’re applying to and your evidence that you can do the job!

If you would rather have an interview-style scenario where you will be asked typical questions and given feedback on your performance, please book a practice interview appointment instead.

I want some feedback on my CV or cover letter

Find out more about CVs for researchers on the Vitae website. Print out your CV/cover letter and bring it with you to the appointment.


If you have any questions, please contact us.