Careers and Employability Service

Postgraduate Students

Career Planning Tools

These tools are a really useful starting point on thinking about what you are looking for from a career, knowing what is going to play to your strength and skills and know you can use skills and knowledge developed through your PG study.  So it is one thing to choose a job, but thinking about how you progress from  there is another matter all together
CES  suggests along side using these tools, that you book an appointment with a Careers Advisor to help you develop your plans

  • Prospects Planner - an online self- assessment and career choice program that also helps you to relate your skills to jobs
  • Vitae includes a self-evaluation exercise
  • National Careers Service- There’s a skills checker, which allows you to compare your current skill set to the required by your ideal job

Career Path

A career path is different from a job in that it aims to look at your professional future with your goals set,  it is thinking about how to progress in your chosen profession and the sectors that this could take place in.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What parts of my masters have I really enjoyed, found interesting and would like to feature as path of my career path
  • What skills do I currently have
  • What would I like to achieve in 2,5, 10 years- focus on professional and personal goals as they often influence each other

What do postgraduates do?

Jobs types and sectors
What size of company would you like best?
What sort of company would suit you best? Do you want to work for a large, sprawling international corporation, or a small local business ( SME)? This will massively change both the jobs available to you (smaller businesses will often not have ‘graduate roles, but can provide specialist, niche roles ’) and how you go about applying, so think carefully.
What area of employment do you want to work?
There’s a variety of areas of employment, but the big ones are:
1. The private sector – this is where your big businesses, corporations, and profit-driven roles are to be found.

2. The public sector – this is anything ran by the government, from the NHS, to the civil service, to schools.

3. Self employment – as obvious as it sounds self employment is where you run what you want to do.

4. Charity Sector/Not for profit – the goal of this sector is to make money for the charity, rather than profits.
Finally, don’t get too hung up on that perfect job. Apply for the jobs you want, but also apply for jobs you could do. Paid employment will look better than a gap in your work history, and you can continue to apply to the jobs you want whilst working somewhere.
The vast majority of postgraduates enter employment at the end of their studies. A smaller number continue studying, for further academic or professional qualifications. The work  which postgraduates enter will depend not only upon the type of degree and the subject studied but also upon the individual graduate, and their interests, skills, experience and abilities.  The following table gives some examples of sectors to consider:

Postdoc research
Project Management
Administrative ie. Research strategy


Oil and Gas

Research and Innovation:
Research Councils and Institutes
Social research
Think Tanks

Intellectual Property:
Patent Attorney
Publishing rights

Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences

State or Independent Schools
Further Education Lecturer
Adult Education

Government and Public Sector:
NHS ( Healthcare)
Civil Service Fast Stream

Creative Industries

Industrial Research:
Research and Development
Chartered Engineer
Science and research

Science writing
Academic publishing
Information science
Marketing and PR

Aerospace and defence


 Retail and consumer

Hospitality and Leisure

Engineering and Construction

Supply chain, Logistics

Media and Entertainment


Power and Utilities


For further information on the sectors and trends see link;,

Skills I have gained
Employers want postgraduates to be able to offer more than their academic subject knowledge. They also look for a range of skills:

  • Academic achievement - demonstrates application and high standards of performance
  • Written communication skills - the ability to use language effectively in order to put across your arguments, to express your ideas clearly and in an audience-appropriate fashion
  • Verbal communication skills - listening, speaking confidently and clearly, and pitching what you say in such a way to have the desired  impact on your listeners
  • Analysis - considering differing ideas, information and theories; picking out key points and details in order to construct or support your arguments; distinguishing relevant from irrelevant information, identifying issues and problems; following complex reasoning; applying logic
  • Critical thinking - the ability to question and not to take things at face value. Interpreting information and arguments; considering their validity in the light of issues such as their source, the evidence provided to support them and other material on the topic; arguing a case with logic  and constructing a reasoned argument for your own point of view
  • Research/investigative skills - use of a variety of sources, constructing research proposals, testing theories, using specialist techniques (i.e. statistical packages/lab equipment).
  • Planning and organising - approaching tasks and projects systematically, managing your own time and work, setting targets, monitoring progress, delegating, ability to handle a number of different tasks simultaneously
  • Problem solving - taking a systematic approach to problems, being flexible in finding solutions, looking at different angles and approaches, identifying the most appropriate   solution for the situation
  • Innovation - ability to take a fresh approach/think laterally, being capable of original/creative thought; develop new concepts/ideas; willing to try new things/adapt to new environments
  • Capacity for hard work - embodying self-motivation, self-discipline and commitment
  • Co-operation - the ability to work with other people, inside and outside your own department or organisation; working together to achieve a common goal; allocating and sharing responsibilities and tasks; supporting and motivating other people
  • Practicality - realism, ability to set attainable goals
  • Maturity - wide experience of life generally and specifically of working with other people; strong career focus; credibility with employers and clients
  • Self-motivation - work independently without the need for constant direction or feedback; anticipating what needs to be done; setting your own goals and working towards them; being positive and professional; taking responsibility for your own work and personal development
  • Commercial awareness - of the environment in which an organisation operates. A focus on the purpose of the organisation and its clients and/or stakeholders
  • Decisiveness - fact-finding skills, clarity, judgement, courage
  • Computing skills - knowledge of statistical packages, spreadsheets, databases and programming languages.

Many of these skills are developed to a high level through postgraduate study and research. Others can be demonstrated through other aspects of your experience, such as part-time or vacation work and extra-curricular interests, so make sure to get involved in activities outside of your studies and to use these activities in your applications.

Careers and Employability Service - © University of Kent

The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7ND, T: +44 (0)1227 764000 ext. 3299

Last Updated: 23/10/2021