Monthly Archives: December 2012


“Wordle” your CV

If you’re wondering whether your CV or application form is getting across your key messages why not cut and paste it into WORDLE and see what your word cloud looks like. If the largest, most prominent words are those which you consider promote your best assets and/or match your current job specification then it’s achieving its aim. If not, you may want to reconsider the way in which you are presenting yourself.
I’m quite happy with the results of mine above. Have a go and see what yours looks like  – it’s a fun and interesting way of looking at yourself 🙂
Happy Christmas!

Career alternatives. What career alternatives?

What happens if you’re a researcher, working in a university or research institute, who’s thinking of moving into an ‘alternative’ career? How do you go about it? What else is on offer? How do you find out about this mysterious ‘alternative’ job market?

These were the questions posed during a postdoctoral career workshop I contributed to last week in London. Although many of the participants voted for a career in academia as their most favoured option, they acknowledged the need to consider a ‘Plan B’ or ‘C’ if things didn’t work out in terms of number and quality of publications – since this has become (albeit rather short-sightedly) the research metric of the 21st century for many institutions and funding bodies.

But what other careers are on offer? Well… teaching… But what else? As it happens, not many other ideas were forthcoming, let alone where to find out about them and then how to apply. My guess is that this lack of ‘alternative career’ knowledge acts as quite a barrier to many researchers as they become institutionalised and myopic in their career perspective. This is only to be expected when you exist in a rather homogeneous environment where the only promotional aspiration is to be a lecturer or principal investigator.

However, fear not, help is at hand. Life does exist beyond the ivory tower! Postdoctoral researchers have a wide range of opportunities they can consider other than academia, many of which are as exciting (if not more so) and offer equal rewards and benefits (if not more so).  Obviously, it depends on factors such as your personal interests, skills, values and personal circumstances as to what will suit you but if you widen your horizons and look over the academic parapet there’s a really exciting world of work out there! My suggested plan of action is as follows:

1)      Put your research skills into action and apply them to your job search. Examine the job sites beyond academia and stop using your discipline as the only keyword to scan the job market. See my extensive list of resources as a starting point –
2)      If you’re collaborating with industry partners ask them about career opportunities in their company or elsewhere.  
3)      Network more extensively at conferences (talk to business and publishing exhibitors).
4)      Use social media to enhance your profile (e.g. Researchgate, LinkedIn, Twitter).
5)      Attend career events – see
6)      Try out alternative careers/enhance your employability through volunteering, workshadowing, internships, courses and workshops.
7)   Examine case studies and career narratives of others who have left academia to pursue an alternative career. See Appendix 1 of ‘Career planning for research bioscientists’ which has 20 career stories and information about other resources available on the web.
8) If you have access to a careers consultant at your university or institute book an appointment to discuss your career ideas in a one-to-one careers interview.