Making applications | The Careers Service Making applications – Oxford University Careers Service
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Preparing job applications is time-consuming, but with some good planning and prior thinking, this can be a positive experience – both in terms of process and, with luck, an invitation to interview.

Our site offers comprehensive guidance on job applications from demonstrating you fit the criteria, writing your application, interviewing and assessment centres. Search for ‘The Application Process’ on our homepage. If you are about to start preparing your application for roles beyond academia, search for ‘Writing Applications’ on our homepage, and consult tips on CV and cover letter writing. Our bespoke pages on Academic Applications give guidance on what is expected by University panels and how to present your experience, skills and plans most effectively.

Writing applications

For guidance on how to draft and polish your CV, cover letters and job applications form click on the links or see the ‘Writing applications’ section on the main menu of this website.

We know that researchers who are planning to transition from research into a non-research role outside academia can be unsure as to how they can best package their skills and experience to appeal to employers in industry and other sectors. One way to do this is to develop a skills-based CV, which allows you to showcase your transferrable skills so that they are immediately visible to recruiters.

Careers advisers are happy to give feedback on drafts of any application materials in a 1:1 appointment, whether you are generally updating your CV or you are preparing to submit an application for a specific role. Please make sure that you have consulted the online guidance available via the links above prior to seeking this input.

The Careers Service also runs regular CV and cover letter workshops for researchers: see the events calendar on Career Connect to find the next workshop and sign up for a place.

Applications for academic jobs

An academic CV differs in several ways from a standard CV, not least in its lack of length restrictions.

  • See our top tips for refining your academic CV here.
  • Guidance on drafting academic cover letters is also available online here.

The guidance on writing applications given via the links above also applies to applications for academic jobs. However, there are a few additional components that you may need to prepare.

If the role has a teaching component, you may be asked to send a teaching statement or teaching philosophy, and for research-focused roles you may need to prepare a research statement.

  • Guidance on how to write a teaching statement is given in the ‘Academic cover letters and statements’ section of our Cover letters page.
  • Our Cover letters page also has advice on drafting your research statement.

Applying for academic jobs outside the UK

If you are aiming to apply for academic jobs outside the UK, expect the application format and content to differ. For the US, Scholarly Pursuits, written by a Harvard careers adviser, contains a wealth of information on succeeding in the US academic jobs market.

The website The Professor Is In also offers an insider view of many aspects of academic careers in the USA.

For other international destinations, try the Careers Service websites of leading HE institutions to identify guidance on local expectations.

Applying for a Junior Research Fellowship

The format of advertisements and application processes for junior research fellowships (JRFs) varies considerably from organisation to organisation. If you are looking to apply for a JRF see our tips here.

Online applications

Some higher education institutions now use an online application process which requires you to input all of your CV content into an electronic form prior to submission. Many of these will have a single form to cater for applicants for every available job, from janitor to professor, as a result of which it can be hard to work out what to put in some sections.

For some, it is possible to cut and paste chunks of word-formatted text (i.e. sections of your word-formatted CV), while others require line-by-line entry of qualifications, previous employment etc. Others allow you to attach documents to the application form, while a few have word (or even character) limits on ‘free text’ sections of the form, which require a forensic focus on the key messages that you want to communicate and judicious culling of any less-relevant information.

Where possible, prepare any free-text entries in a Word document to guard against the loss of carefully crafted content if you lose your connection to the applications website.

The most important sections of your application (depending on what sections are included on any given form) are likely to be the ‘Additional information’ or ‘Supporting statement’ section along with the research statement and teaching statement or equivalents.

Tips for online applications

  • Where possible, prepare in a Word/similar document and save regularly to prevent accidental loss whilst you are completing the form.
  • If you are going to attach your CV to your electronic application form, check carefully to be sure that all dates, job titles, qualifications etc. are consistent between the two documents.
  • If you have been asked to provide referee details on the electronic form, you don’t necessarily need to include them on your CV.
Applications for research funding

Applications for research funding will have varying requirements according to the funder and scheme in question. The University’s Research Services team works in partnership with academic divisions, departments, University Administration and Services (UAS) and Oxford University Innovation to support Oxford’s research community in many ways.

These include understanding grant eligibility and writing competitive application, how to engage strategically with non-academic partners (including intellectual property agreements), and defining Knowledge Exchange or Impact targets to benefit both the project and your career.

Research Services run regular training sessions on how to apply for funding, and its staff are always willing to advise individuals on which funding schemes to apply for and how to prepare a solid funding application. Use the searchable staff list to identify the right person to talk to about research funding. Research Services also offer twice-yearly seminars on writing funding applications.

Practical resources

  • Research Professional is an online 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.
  • The European Research Council also has a broad range of grants available to researchers whose projects will be undertaken in an EU member state or associated country.
This information was last updated on 05 October 2018.
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Recent blogs about Making applications

OXFO L.E.V8 Accelerator

Posted on behalf of Oxford Foundry. Blogged by Mike Moss on 20/09/2019.

OXFO L.E.V8 (Elevate) at the Oxford Foundry is the University of Oxford’s most diverse accelerator. The programme takes in up to 12 high potential ventures a year and is designed to support and nurture early-stage start-up teams affiliated to the university.

Oxford students, staff and alumni can get six months free support to build their venture. This includes mentorship, masterclasses, and access to the Foundry’s global network of investors and partners including Biz Stone, Cofounder of Twitter and Medium, Jenny Tooth OBE, UK Business Angels Association, Professor Bill Aulet, MIT, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and Robin Saunders, Managing Partner at Clearbrook Capital.

Ventures also get support to build a team – many ventures have met their cofounders through the Foundry, along with leadership and resilience skills support, financial, business, pitching, product-market fit, customer development and legal advice.

To date, the Foundry has supported 19 start-ups who have raised £7m, created 70 jobs and are having a global impact across sectors including retail, medtech, energy, publishing, fintech and more.

The accelerator is based in our Oxford Foundry building on Hythe Bridge street and runs from 18 November 2019 to May 2020.

“The Foundry has accelerated our growth by providing a space devoted to entrepreneurship, giving us access to people with diverse talents and expertise, and to its network of investors. It has been incredible. Such growth wouldn’t have been possible without the Foundry. We are now focused on raising capital and sales and marketing. We want to sign ten new clients by the end of the year.” Jason Lacombe, CEO, Veratrak.

We welcome solo founders and teams and it’s a fantastic chance to be part of a supportive and expert community.  The programme is equity-free.

Apply online on the Oxford Foundry website. Deadline: 30 September 2019.

International Mathematical Olympiad: Exclusive talk and weekly cash prize competitions

Posted on behalf of G-Research. Blogged by Hugh Nicholson-Lailey on 28/06/2019.

G-Research, a leading quantitative research and technology company and long-standing Oxford recruiter is sponsoring the International Mathematical Olympiad 2019.

Weekly Competitions

To celebrate this, they are launching a weekly mathematical challenge in the style of IMO problems – with a cash prize of £1,000 each week for the first person to submit the correct answer. A ‘warm-up’ taster challenge will go live on Monday 1 July, and the first cash prize challenge will go live at midday Monday 8 July. You will find the puzzles here >>

Exclusive talk on Combinatorics: Monday 22 July, from 18:00

Professor Po-Shen Loh (Carnegie Mellon University), national coach of the USA International Mathematical Olympiad team national coach of the USA International Mathematical Olympiad team will give a talk on combinatorics in London on 22 July.

When Bare Hands Fail: An Interactive Talk on Combinatorics with Po-Shen Loh,

Where: The Royal College of Physicians, 11 Saint Andrews Place Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4LE
When: Monday 22 July, from 18:00
Reserve your place: please email – places are limited and first come, first served so register ASAP to avoid missing out!

This interactive lecture will use one of the most difficult problems from a recent USA Mathematical Olympiad exam to illustrate the connections between modern combinatorial problems and theorems and techniques from other branches of mathematics, such as algebra, probability, and even topology.

Free event, and travel to and from the event will be reimbursed – please remember to bring your receipt with you on the day.

Bolstering your core employability skills – for Researchers

Blogged by Rebecca Ehata on 21/05/2019.

Do you know which skills employers are looking for – and which of these you already have? Are you looking for tips on how best to communicate your skills to employers?

Come to our workshop for DPhil students and research staff, Bolstering your Core Employability Skills for Researchers, to learn what core employability skills are, how to identify your current skills set, and how to demonstrate these in the job application process.

When: 4 June, 13:00-16:00
Where: Seminar Room B, St Cross Building
Book your place here.

Researchers in Schools programme: applications close 27 May!

Posted on behalf of Researchers in Schools. Blogged by Rebecca Ehata on 08/05/2019.

In the UK today, there is an entrenched link between household income and educational success. Pupils from low-income backgrounds are far less likely than their wealthier peers to attain five good GCSE grades, progress to higher education or have a fulfilling career.

The Researchers in Schools programme tackles this by mobilising the research community to become outstanding classroom teachers, as well as champions of evidence-based practice and higher education.

We offer PhD researchers a unique, generously-funded route into teaching tailored to your abilities, knowledge and experience. Through our programme, you’ll develop the skills to become a highly-effective classroom teacher, helping support pupils, regardless of background, to excel and progress to higher education.

  • Complete our Research Leader in Education Award, a fully-funded, three-year programme of professional development designed around the PhD skill set;
  • Create and deliver Uni Pathways, a university-access intervention based on your PhD, aimed at increasing target pupils’ chances of attending a highly-selective university;
  • Take one day of protected time each week to work towards the RLE and Uni Pathways;
  • Receive honorary academic status at a research-intensive university, providing access to research facilities and a network of academic support;
  • Benefit from competitive financial support, including generous funding options for your training year.

For more information and to apply, visit Applications close 27 May 2019 so please submit your application as soon as possible!

May is a month of career development opportunities…

Blogged by Rachel Bray on 02/05/2019.

This term is already flying along… Take some time out of your research to reflect on your career development, and make some easily-actionable plans.

Join us for an updated Career Management workshop for DPhil students and research staff in one of three locations during 4th week:

  • Tuesday 21 May, 10:00 – 12:30 (followed by lunch), St Luke’s Chapel, Radcliffe Obs Quarter. Register here.
  • Wednesday 22 May, 10:30 – 14:00 (lunch provided), Gottmann Room, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford, OX1 3QY. Register here.
  • Friday 24 May, 10:00-12:00, Seminar Room A, English Faculty (St Cross Building). Register here.

This interactive workshop – piloted last week and received excellent feedback – will enable you to to step back, consider future possible career paths, and identify what you have to offer to employers within, or beyond, academia.

Topics will include job satisfaction, your values, career motivations and transferable skills. Our focus will be on making the most of what you already have, opportunities to boost any core employability skills during your time at Oxford and how to articulate these to others, whether in person or in applications. We will also share  top tips on effective, mutually-rewarding networking

You will be encouraged to draw your insights together to begin a realistic personal career plan and to consider your next steps.

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