What to do in a PhD to build up an academic career

In the UK, it is known that every year at least half of all PhD graduates continue in academic research (for more information visit the Vitae Website) and for many the ultimate aim is to secure a university lectureship. If this is your aspiration it is vital that you appreciate what will be expected of you in the future from academic recruiters. To help with your planning the UCL careers service conducted an online survey of UCL senior academics across all research disciplines, asking them what was in their wish list in terms of the ideal applicant’s CV and personal qualities. The results of this survey can be accessed on the Resources page of the researcher careers website, in the subsection ‘Effective Academic Applications’

There will be no surprises that the top three things academics wanted to see were; a first author paper in a high impact journal, evidence of strength in relevant methods and in depth knowledge of subject and presentations delivered at conferences, either national or international. We also asked what personal qualities and attributes PhD graduates that were eventually successful in academia possessed. Outstanding researchers were said to be innovative and enterprising, took on extra responsibilities, had a broad view of the research field and were highly self motivated. It is worth asking yourself whether you are currently engaging in activities, within your project or in addition to it, that would demonstrate these ‘soft skills‘. For additional information, including audio clips of careers advice from UCL academics, visit the subsection ‘Academic Career Planning’ in the researcher careers resources page.

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