Advice for Grad Students | Job Market: Realities & Opportunities

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

In the past few years we have been reading more and more about the precarity of the university labour market in Canada, the US, and elsewhere. For instance, James B. Waldram & Janice E. Graham's "W(h)ither the Canadian PhD?" (CASCA's issue of Culture, Spring 2015) highlights the continued trend toward hiring American educated PhDs in Canadian Anthropology Departments (see also Marilyn Silverman's 1991 "Amongst Ourselves"). According to numbers from 2015, in Canada "only 18.6 per cent of PhDs are employed as full-time university professors, and fewer still hold tenured or tenure-track positions" (Conference Board of Canada, 2015). This is an issue for PhDs across the disciplines and across North America. Sarah Kendzior discusses this in "Academia's 1 Percent" (2015, Vitae), and we also witness higher rates of social sciences PhDs graduating without jobs lined up and increasing debt loads.

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 academiaWhere 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).
Quick links: 

        Career Coaching & Advice


        Networking & Interviewing for Jobs

        For 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).
        If you are actually interviewing for a job...
        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) CVs

        Resumes 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 DifferencesThe 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:
        Advice for writing resumes and cover letters for altac or applied careers:

        Explore  Professional Development Strategies 
        Writing Tips
        Grad Student Wellness


        If you have any resources for graduate students that would add to this page, we would love to hear from you. Contact the team at anthro everywhere! by email or tweet us @anthrolens

        Last updated: 22 May 2017