In this section, we cover the reality of Precarity in the University Labour Market, Career Coaching & Advice, Networking & Interviewing for Jobs, and Writing Resumes and (versus) CVs.
Precarity in the University Labour Market
When much of our professional development during graduate school trains us for careers in the university, it can be daunting to think about careers outside of academia. Where do you start, and what kinds of things can you even do with a graduate degree in anthropology? Jennifer Polk, of From PhD to Life (a PhD career coach), provides a lot of resources and grounded advice for thinking about next steps, specifically in finding employment outside of academia. Interviewing PhDs from all disciplines, her Transition Q&As are really useful for thinking about the kinds of ways that people #withaPhD are applying their skills and perspectives in careers outside of academia. If you are hung up on the idea(lization) that anything outside of academia is a "crappy" job, you may want to start with this piece in University Affairs from Liz Kolblyk: "What lies beneath that seemingly 'crappy' job?" (2015).
- The Precarity issue of Culture (Spring 2015)
- Marilyn Silverman. 1991. "Amongst Ourselves": A Colonial Encounter in Canadian Academia. Critique of Anthropology. 11(4):381-400.
- Daniel Munro, "Where Are Canada’s PhDs Employed?" (2015, Conference Board of Canada)
- Missteps and Steps in the Post-PhD (2017, Lisa Munro)
- Jennifer Polk, "3 Questions for Job Seekers with a PhD" (2016, Medium.com); Where Do PhDs Work Outside the Academy? (2016, Medium.com)
- From PhD to Life: a) Resources for PhDs; b) Transition Q&As
- "What lies beneath that seemingly “crappy” job?" (2015, University Affairs - Careers Cafe).
- anthro everywhere!'s page on Applying an anthropological perspective outside of university is a collection of popular articles and posts showing the wide range of career paths anthropologists have followed beyond the ivory tower.
Career Coaching & Advice
- Susan Basalla & Maggie Debelius' "So What Are You Going to Do with That?": Finding Careers Outside Academia provides practical advice for grad students considering post-academic careers and draws on the experiences of people who have made the transition. [NB: The current (third, 2015) edition also provides advice for non-humanities/ social sciences grads, but also considers the role that social media now plays in finding a career. For advice a little more tailored to social scientists, Rhiannon would recommend picking up the 2007 edition.]
- Jobs on Toast (by Chris Humphrey, who holds a PhD) is another great site directed specifically at PhDs looking to transition into careers outside of academia. Top posts on this site include: Life after the PhD: 8 inspiring post-PhD interview websites, Discover the 20+ transferable skills that make PhDs totally employable, and How to translate your skills into language employers can understand.
- Simon Fraser's Anthropology Department has put together a great list of Skills in Anthropology that can help you to think about what kinds of skills you already have and how to recognize them in job ads or career paths.
- Sociology at Work provides useful resources about how people actually 'do' sociology in their applied careers.
- University Affairs' Careers Cafe section hosts a series of posts aimed at graduate students and academics. Posts range from surviving the conference circuit, to designing your own career, job interview tips, contracts, cover letters, and more. The magazine also hosts a Careers Advice section that archives posts on teaching, syllabus creation, presenting your research succinctly, grant writing, and choosing your grad program supervisor.
- Hortensii also has a round up of PhD/ academic coaching sites.
- Liz Koblyk (career counsellor & instructor) has written some useful pieces for University Affairs for PhD career explorers (aka job seekers): Putting skepticism on hold (2016), and What to do when a career option loses its lustre (2016)
- For undergraduate and MA-level anthropology students thinking about career paths you might want to check out this anthro everywhere! post.
- Jump to our Professional Development page for more advice on how to think through and prepare to meet your career goals.
Networking & Interviewing for JobsFor anthropologists, networking and interviewing are important skills that we develop in service of our research. Yet, these are also valuable professional skills to have in your grad student 'toolkit' (see Grad Logic, "Why you should network: Seven myths dispelled," 2016).
- For general (and practical) advice on how to start networking as a graduate student, check out Nana Lee's "Essential networking tips for graduate students" (University Affairs, 2016). You might also want to read our post on A guide to academic conversations.
- If you are interested in a particular sector or type of job, doing an informational interview can be a valuable experience. To read more about this type of interview, have a look at this (2014) Inside Higher Ed post from Katie Shives at Grad Hacker.
- Don't forget about cultivating your online presence. As this Chronicle of Higher Ed piece points out, potential employers are going to Google you before they meet you. Savage Minds has a quick piece on Practical Training for the Digitally Il/literate Anthropologist (2013), and Katy Meyers or GradHacker offers 5 great tips on how (and why) to Manage Your Digital Identity. Tobias Denskus of aidnography (international development studies) also has some useful insights on communicating student research and experiences via social media in Twittering your MA? Development studies, social media and challenging dominant discourses (2010).
- Amy Santee offers some advice based on her experiences of job interview questions as an anthropologist: Interview questions for people with [applied] anthropology backgrounds (2011).
- “Right Place, Right Time”?: Six Tips for Landing a Museum Job after Your Grad Degree That Really Work (the history education network, 2015) may focus on museum jobs (a great fit for many anthropologists), but the advice in this post is actually handy for job seekers across a number of applied contexts.
- How do you know if the organization you're interviewing with is a good fit for you? Check out this very useful post on Five Steps to Evaluate Organizational Culture Before You Accept the Offer from the American NIH OITE Careers Blog.
- Interviews: How to Handle Tricky Questions (2015) is geared toward academic job interviews, but naturally has some relevance for alt-ac interviewing as well.
If at first you don't succeed... learn from your experiences. Tenure, She Wrote offers sound advice on "How to fail better (and even succeed!) in the academic job market" (2015). Don't let the focus on academic jobs deter you, #alt-ac jobs seekers. A lot of this advice (like the skills you cultivate as a grad student) is transferable!
Writing Resumes and (versus) CVsResumes and CVs both catalogue the skills, accomplishments, and experiences you have built up over your career (and yes, doing a graduate degree should be considered part of your work history), but present these items in very different ways (see: CV Vs. Resume—Here Are the Differences, The Muse). Learning how to translate the an academic CV into a snappy professional resume, or how to present your non-academic experience as an asset in the context of an academic job application can be challenging.
Advice on writing academic CVs and cover letters:
- Karen Kelsky (The Professor is In) offers guidance for academics and academic track career-seekers, including about the right length for your CV.
- The Guardian hosts a Higher Education Network blog that addresses many different issues related to academia (from commentaries on the casualization of university labour to university rankings). The blog also offers advice, such as: Academic cover letters: 10 top tips (2013), Structuring an academic cover letter (2016), and Academic job applications: five mistakes to avoid (2015). Folks interested in non-academic careers may also want to read through these posts as they contain some useful advice on how to present yourself to prospective employers.
- This Guide to Cover Letters from the American NIH OITE Careers Blog provides some useful examples and tips for a variety of academic-track positions. It's geared to life and physical scientists, but still offers relevant advice for social scientists.
- You may also want to check out the OITE Career Blog's post on Asking for Letters of Recommendation
- How do I talk about [topic] on my resume? comes from the MLA project Connected Academics: Preparing Doctoral Students of Language and Literature for a Variety of Careers. The project (running until 2019) is geared toward Humanities grads, but there's a lot of cross-over for MA and PhDs in other disciplines, especially in anthropology. Check out the site for more info, such as this post on "The Unique Case of the PhD on the Industry Job Market" (2016).
- Part of the problem of translating your CV into resume is learning the language that potential employers are looking for. Another issue is about rethinking the skills that many graduate students come to take for granted as valuable and will stand out on a resume (e.g. public speaking, team working, and organizing meetings). Use Simon Fraser Anthropology's great list of Skills in Anthropology and this list of 20+ transferable skills to re-consider how your experience as a (anthropology) grad student translates into professional skills and expertise. You may also want to take a look at these tips from jobs.ac.uk.
- Draw on the people in your network for advice on how to improve your resume. Even if you think that your resume looks impressive, getting the critical feedback of someone in the field can help you find the right language and way of presenting your academic experience to appeal to employers. You can also check out these 4 Ways You Can Always Improve Your Resume (No Matter How Good it Is) (The Muse).
- Does your resume show up correctly on a mobile device? This is probably something you wouldn't have thought about, but The Muse argues that mobile optimization is important as most recruiters are now looking through applications on smaller mobile device screens. To that end, here are some tips on How to Guarantee Your Resume Shows Up Correctly on Mobile (Because It Probably Doesn't)
- This Guide to Cover Letters from the American NIH OITE Careers Blog provides some useful examples and tips for formatting and content of letters for non-academic-track positions. It's geared to life and physical scientists, but still offers relevant advice for social scientists.
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