Making Applications

Thinking ahead and using the available support goes a long way in making this process more fun, efficient and likely to result in an interview.

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After a few (or more) years doing a PhD or working in academia, it can feel challenging to present your skills and experience in ways that will appeal to employers in other work sectors, however there is a lot you can do to develop strong an effective application materials for non-academic roles.

All of our standard guidance applies, so follow these links for guidance on how to draft and polish your CV, cover letters or job application forms and for tips on demonstrating you fit the job criteria. Many researchers preparing to apply for jobs beyond academia find it helpful to develop a skills-based CV, the structure of which makes your transferable skills immediately visible to recruiters.

In our experience, Situational Judgement or Critical Thinking Tests are becoming more popular in recruitment for several industry sectors. If these are new to you or sound intimidating, read up and try out a few via our psychometric tests page.

Our Academic Applications page has plenty of tips on:

  • refining your academic CV;
  • writing an effective teaching statement;
  • preparing a research statement for job, PhD, fellowship  or funding applications;
  • fellowship and funding applications;
  • academic cover letters and supporting statements.

The Oxbridge Early Career Blog also has some excellent, no-nonsense advice on effective applications and how to avoid the most common errors to produce an application that stands out from the rest, with posts covering CVs, cover letters and academic interviews (use the 'Search by theme' function to find these).

Keep up to speed with:

  • short Careers Features published by Nature and other major journals. Their excellent tips on transitioning from academia hold for everyone, even when written for scientists;
  • podcast series by Taylor & Francis, an international academic publisher, who teamed up with Vitae to offer practical tips and insights for researchers looking to develop their careers. It covers stepping up and moving on, getting published, academic mentoring, overcoming imposter syndrome, etc.;
  • Research Professional database of funding opportunities that you can tailor to your subject areas. It is a subscription resource so you need to be on a university-networked computer to set up an account;
  • UK Research and Innovation, the new national body which brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England, is another good place to look for information about current funding opportunities.

All Oxford students and eligible research staff can ask for feedback on draft CVs, cover letters and supporting statements, or help in preparing for an interview, via a 1:1 appointment with any Oxford Careers Adviser. You can book an appointment at a time that suits you.

Please consult our online guidance via links in the above sections before speaking to the adviser.

Look out for CV and cover letter workshops run by Careers Advisers. See the events calendar on Career Connect to find and sign-up for the next workshop.

Online interviewing is increasing: to feel more confident and prepare well, read our guidance on telephone and video interviewing.

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