Career services


Making career decisions and considering your next career move is challenging whether you want to remain in or leave academia. Even those who are on a longer-term or permanent contract can benefit from coaching and mentoring from time to time. As a qualified and certified career consultant, I specialise in the career development of postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers and academics through webinars, workshops and one-to-one career guidance and coaching interviews. Training and consultancy can be delivered on-line or in person at research institutes and universities or during scientific meetings. If you are an academic responsible for career development, a researcher development manager or a PhD student or postdoctoral researcher looking for a career professional to design and deliver a training session, you can contact me for an initial discussion via email: or LinkedIn.

The following list is a selection of some of the themes of my career support which are based on my book, Career planning for research bioscientists.  All courses are designed with specific learning outcomes and include recognised pedagogic practices, including interactive discussion, group work and a ‘flipped classroom’ approach. They can be adapted and delivered in-person or online in isolation and put together to form a longer programme.

It can be challenging to juggle the demands of research alongside career planning and management. However, it’s really crucial to have a career strategy running in parallel to everyday research activities in order to be prepared for the transition to the next career stage, whether it’s with a view to securing an academic or non-academic post. In this workshop/webinar, participants are exposed to some of the key career planning and management models, with the opportunity to apply practical tactics such as identifying job-seeking strategies and taking appropriate action according to personal and professional ambitions.

Many PhD students and postdoctoral researchers are unaware of the wide variety of careers on offer to PhD-qualified bioscientists. In this workshop/webinar, participants are exposed to a wide range of jobs within various career sectors in which they are able to use their PhD knowledge and skills directly, indirectly or where they can transfer them into other non-science roles. They will learn about what skills and competencies these employers are looking for and how to convince them of their suitability for the job. They will find out how to search for, research and identify different types of careers of interest to them, as well as how to approach employers and present themselves effectively.

Due to the competitiveness for tenured academic positions, the majority of PhD students and researchers need to consider careers outside of academia (see blog). But whether you are aiming for an academic or non-academic career, how do you know what types of posts or jobs will interest you? How do you find these jobs? And how can you enhance your chances of succeeding in your chosen profession? This workshop/webinar is  structured using a practical career framework, which enables participants to identify their interests and skills, group them into categories and then match them with relevant and realistic job types. With resources and information on effective job seeking and personal development, the workshop provides comprehensive guidance on how to make effective career decisions and take a proactive approach to planning your next career move. There are resources and further information to take away at the end of the session.

With ever-increasing competition for more permanent institutional or university academic posts, this workshop/webinar provides insights and strategies to enhance and improve the potential to secure an assistant/associate professorship/ lecturer/research group leader position. Working ‘smart’, generating independence and improving productivity, engaging with collaborators and harnessing networking opportunities (see 8. Academic Mobility below) are just some of the key topics covered in this very popular and interactive session.

This workshop demonstrates the different ways in which postgraduates and postdoctorals can present themselves in an application or CV depending on the type of job they are applying for with the aim of increasing its impact and success. Different types of CV are presented, including academic, skills and targeted-based CVs, as well as how to write a professional cover letter. This workshop/webinar is usually best presented following the ‘Recognising Skills’ session and/or a career coaching session. Examples of CVs are presented and contextualised using live job descriptions and bioscience-specific materials and resources. There is scope for the participants send on their CVs to the tutor as a follow-up addition to this workshop.

Interviews come in many shapes and sizes and can be a daunting prospect for even the most experienced professional. In this workshop, participants learn about the purpose of interviews and what they can do to maximise their performance. By introducing techniques, such as ‘STAR’, the participants practice how to answer long/open questions as well as more specific and challenging ones in  structured and coherent way. Peer learning is central to this interactive workshop/webinar, which is usually delivered following the CV and Applications workshop, although it can be delivered as a stand-alone session.  An optional addition to the workshop is the involvement of external professionals who provide realistic mock interviews.

This workshop/webinar aims to raise awareness of the range of skills postgraduates and postdoctorals acquire whilst undertaking their research activities so that they can express this more clearly in moving their career forward whether it is within or outside of academia. Participants are grouped according to their career stage, from 1st year postgraduates through to mature postdoctorals. In this way similar roles and tasks are usually defined by the group and can then be translated into skill sets and personal qualities which are linked to a range of examples of live job descriptions.  This workshop/webinar can be followed on by a CV and application workshop which will demonstrate how to set out personal information depending on the type of position being applied for.

Academic research is an international endeavour and so mobility nearly always plays a part in the careers of researchers. Whether it is moving to another country to take up a fellowship or new post or even if it is a short visit to improve on professional skills and gain more experience, preparation is  paramount. This workshop/webinar includes research studies conducted on mobility, case studies, dual career couples, funding information, advice and strategies for those considering whether to stay or go. It provides a space for participants to discuss the challenges and benefits of career mobility and different ways in which they can spend time in different work environments, either long-term or short-term, depending on their own situation and career goals.

The aim of the session is to raise awareness to the participants of their personality similarities and differences. The workshop/webinar makes use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which assesses personality type following completion of a questionnaire (88 questions which takes about 30 minutes to complete). The personality profiles derived from this assessment illustrate different ways in which people prefer to organise themselves, take in information, make decisions and communicate. It has implications for day-to-day interactions, working style, communication, collaborations, networking, contributing to committee meetings, time management, analysing research results and direction, supervising students etc.

10. EFFECTIVE NETWORKING (including Social Media)
Networking is vital to career success, whether it’s to find and secure a new position or to seek assistance with improving one’s current situation. Networking can sometimes be viewed somewhat cynically as ‘using people’, so one of the aims of this workshop/webinar is to demonstrate its real purpose, i.e. to develop and build relationships, exchange information and ideas, and establish mutually beneficial collaborations. Central to the art of networking is the ability to present oneself professionally, both in-person and online, and to identify commonalities that serve to build trust between individuals. The workshop content includes the ‘what, where and how’ of networking and gives tips and advice on how to identify potential connections, make approaches to people, as well as following up on contacts. With plenty of opportunity to interact with each other and practice self-presentation, participants also learn about each other’s work and potential interdisciplinary thinking and future collaborations.

One-to-one career guidance interviews (usually 30 mins to 1 hour per person via Skype or in person) provide an opportunity for individuals to reflect and discuss their own career plans. As a registered professional of the Career Development Institute and qualified with a master’s degree in career guidance (Warwick University, UK), I use recognised guidance and coaching techniques to help people to clarify their current issues and challenges and enable them to work out what to do next to assist them with their career. The interviews can be included as part of a workshop session or run separately.

Academics seeking confidential professional coaching should contact me in the first place for a preliminary 15 minute discussion to decide whether or what will be useful for their own career development.

Self-awareness is a key characteristic of high performers and an important factor in realising a successful career. In this workshop/webinar, PhD students and researchers have the opportunity to examine their personality, behaviours, preferences, skills, strengths and weaknesses with the aim of improving their own performance, providing direction and making them more purposeful, as well as being better prepared for a leadership role.

Along with leadership and self-awareness, other competencies such as effective communication, assertiveness, time management, decision-making and negotiation skills can contribute to a person’s sense of greater personal control and  confidence in their current role and for their future career aspirations. Improving career competencies such as these takes time and practice, and the purpose of the workshop/webinar is to introduce these skills and give participants the opportunity to spend time in a confidential training session learning about them and trying them out.

Enhancing communication skills has benefits in all aspects of career planning such as interview technique, but also more informal interactions too. In this training participants will learn how to improve their communication skills, in particular, how to present themselves and their science in an effective way to engage with their audiences. A former professional science communicator, Sarah draws on her experience and knowledge of communication techniques, enabling scientists to capture the essence of their story to improve its impact.

A qualified trainer, I deliver training on behalf of the Association of Graduates Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) to staff who wish to offer career guidance in their own institutions.

Present and former clients include:

Universities: Antwerp (Belgium), Charles University (Prague), Copenhagen (Denmark), Freiburg (Germany), Goettingen (Germany), Lancaster (UK), Lyon, Nice (France), Vienna (Austria), Warwick, York (UK).
Research institutes: BIST (Barcelona), CEITEC (Brno), CiMS-IMPRS (Muenster), ETH Zurich, Helmholz German Research Centers, IGBMC (Strasbourg), John Innes Centre (UK), Karolinksa (Sweden), Max Planck institutes, Vienna Biocenter.
Conferences: NatureCareers, EMBO, ESOF, American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), Biochemical Society, Microbiology Society, Society for Experimental Biology.
Doctoral Training Parternship: ITN-MIMIC, Triforc, Food Security, TRAIN-ASAP, Cells in Motion, LIBRA, MIBTP.

What participants and clients have said:

“Excellent and informative – a useful framework for thinking about careers/jobs. Now changed the way I think about the jobs I’m applying for.”

“I just wanted to say again how helpful I found the conversation we had. I thought you were really insightful not just about the process of a PhD and what it takes to be an academic, but also about me as a person.”

“The four example CVs from the same person applying to four different jobs was incredibly useful! Also making us aware that twitter is important for science communication – I’m now going to make one!”

“Thank you for organising this. It really feels like I have had a wake-up call! A lot of good advice and tips were given. Interactive exercises were excellent.”

“Very well organised and was very positive and helpful. A confidence booster and would recommend every PhD student to attend this workshop.”

“Thanks for your help with thinking about and preparing for the job interview I did earlier this year – I got the job! Meeting with you, and attending your interviews course were both really useful, and gave me more confidence in approaching both the application and the interview.”

“Really excellent – the best careers workshop that I’ve ever attended! Sarah is a brilliant tutor and made the workshop really personal for us all even though there were lots of us.”

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