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Career planning

Developing your career as a researcher can mean working hard to produce robust results, presenting papers at conferences and trying to publish your work. But what if you’re not sure whether an academic career pathway is what you really want, or even how to approach it most effectively if it is? Whether you have just started a new research position, are nearing the end of a contract, or are somewhere in between, the Careers Service can support you as you work out your next steps and plan your future within or beyond academia.

It is never too early, or too late, to start planning your career. As research staff (defined by the University as grade 6 and above research assistants, postdoctoral researchers and research fellows), you have full access to careers services during your contract period and for one year afterwards.

One to one guidance

The Careers Service provides dedicated support to Oxford researchers from all parts of the university. Help is available whatever your career-related question, or even if you’re not quite sure what your question is but you need support with your career development. You can book a 20-minute video or telephone appointment with any careers advisor using your Career Connect account. Alternatively please contact the Careers Service Reception at for assistance.

Further specialist guidance

You can also find specific advice on the questions or dilemmas facing early career researchers on our early career researcher blog, written by careers specialists in Oxford and Cambridge.

It is quite common for researchers at Oxford to experience setbacks, then feel uncertain or anxious about progressing in academia, or indeed more broadly. The Careers Service led a collaboration with PhD students, postdocs and established academics to produce a workbook and five podcasts to help researchers understand what can trigger a sense of academic failure and how to overcome this.

Workshops and events

Careers workshops and events designed for researchers run throughout the year. These cover career management, exploring your transferable skills and potential options, writing effective CVs and cover letters, and how to shine in an interview. Insight events include discussions with academics plus people who have transitioned from academic research into a variety of sectors. Sessions take place at The Careers Service and periodically in locations on the Headington medical science sites. To see the full range of events and make a booking, go to CareerConnect; if you do not have a CareerConnect account - please email to have one set up.

Exploring and networking

The annual Careers Conference for Researchers, which takes place in Hilary term, offers an excellent opportunity to talk to employers who recruit highly skilled researchers, listen to former researchers speak about the experience of moving beyond academia and brush up your key employability skills.  Book your place via CareerConnect.

If you’re considering options beyond academia, seeing what former postdocs are now doing is a great way to start. Browse our expanding database on to get a flavour of what they enjoy in their new roles and how they made the transition. And if there’s a sector you’d like to explore, get in touch with the team of Oxford researchers running this resource via

To be kept up to date with career and professional development activities you can register for the research staff mailing list.

Researchers are also welcome to contact the Careers Service to arrange sessions within their department/research group, though please note that capacity for departmental sessions is currently limited. For more information contact Dr Rebecca Ehata via

Bolstering your core employability skills

You will be gaining valuable transferable skills in your role here at Oxford. At the same time, you may want to bolster certain skills -  such as leadership, teamwork or commercial awareness -  by signing up for professional development activities. The Researcher Strategy Consultancy is an experience-based learning programme run by the Careers Service that complements training for researchers offered by Divisions and the Centre for Teaching & Learning.

Useful career resources

The Careers Service website contains a wealth of resources on our pages exclusively for researchers, with an extensive range of tips whether you are looking to explore local opportunities, or find ways to boost your employability. Extensive guidance on networking, CVs, applications, interview skills and much more, is also available on .

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