Prepare for Your Job Search
Before you begin submitting applications, there are several important steps you can take to prepare for your job search and maximize your opportunities. Consider the following steps to help you build a foundation for your job search.
1. Assess how your advanced degree fits into your overall career plan.
- What skills does your graduate degree help you develop?
- Conduct industry and organizational research to help you identify related skills.
- If you’re not sure about your career goals, take a career assessment on CareerBeam, an online self-paced career management tool. To access CareerBeam, click on the “Resources” tab in connectSC.
- Explore ImaginePhD, a free online career exploration and planning tool for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences.
2. Build your network.
- Cultivate relationships with your professors, classmates, potential employers and alumni. Join the Career Network.
- Get involved within the USC community through Graduate Student Government and other Student Organizations.
- Join professional associations and attend conferences in your field of interest. To search for professional associations related to your discipline, refer to the Career Access Resource Library (CARL).
3. Find a mentor.
- As you network and meet other professionals, identify mentors who can provide career guidance. Your mentor(s) may help open doors once you embark on your job search. Join the Career Network to reach out to alumni working in fields of your interest for career advice.
4. Investigate industry trends and recruiting schedules early in your program.
- Identify key skills and experiences you need to develop to stay competitive in the job market. Find opportunities to develop these skills as a student.
- Seek out top employers that you want to work for and participate in recruiting events.
5. Attend professional events and conferences.
- Beyond the PhD: PhD and Postdoctoral Career Conference (Spring): This conference features breakout sessions on academic and industry career paths.
- Career Fairs (Fall/Spring): Meet employers recruiting for full-time positions and internships across a variety of industries.
- Career workshops include resume, CV and cover letter writing, interviewing strategies, job search strategies, and negotiation strategies.
- UPC PhD Careers Week (Fall): A week of academic job search workhops such as Cv, Cover letter and resume writing , interviewing, negotiating and acepting job offers, and writing your teching philosophy/research
- HSC PhD Career Series (Spring): A series of academic job search workshops such as CV and resume review, interviewing and negotiating job offers, networking, and creating Linkedin profiles
- Explore school-specific career events. Contact your school-based career services office or academic department to inquire about upcoming events.
- Professional associations often hold local and national conferences. Check your professional association’s website for the next upcoming event. Search for professional associations related to your discipline, on the Career Access Resource Library (CARL).
- Visit USC The Graduate School
Start Your Job Search
Upon completing self-assessment, career exploration, and developing related job search skills, you will be equipped to conduct your job search. Below are resources to help you identify job opportunities in academia and beyond.
Academic 360: Academic job board for the US, Canada, Australia and UK
American Association of Community Colleges: Job bank for community college job opportunities
BioCareers.com: Job board for life science PhDs and MDs
Career Fairs: Meet employers recruiting for full-time positions across a variety of industries
Chronicle of Higher Education: Resources for those who are new to the academic job search including topics such as the current job market, CV advice, how to search for jobs, and interviewing advice.
connectSC: Search through thousands of job listings using search terms such as “PhD,” “Postdoc,” or industry terms to identify relevant positions.
Find A Post Doc: Job board dedicated to new and recently qualified PhDs
HigherEdJobs.com: U.S. and international higher education job opportunities
Inside Higher Ed: Source for higher education jobs, news, and career advice
National Postdoctoral Association: Job board and career development resources
PhDs.org: Job listings, career guides, and postdoc resources
Postdocjobs.com: A free postdoctoral job board
PhDs.org Nonacademic Career Resources: Articles on pursuing nonacademic careers
Professional Association Job Boards: Search on CARL for industry-specific resources and professional associations
UniversityJobs.com: Job board for postdoctoral and faculty positions
Versatile PhD: Forum to help humanities, social science, and STEM graduate students identify and prepare for non-academic careers. Accessible via connectSC under the “Resources” tab (for current PhD students only).
Resume or CV?
As you apply for jobs, either a resume or CV may be requested. Use the following guide to help you identify key differences between a resume and a CV.
Purpose: To promote your professional identity when applying for private and public sector jobs
Length: 1-2 pages, depending on your experience and industry
Content: Highlight job-related skills and relevant experiences. Focus on accomplishments
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Purpose: To highlight your scholarly experiences when applying for academic or research positions
Length: 2-3 pages (additional pages can be added as you further your career)
Content: Highlight academic experiences, such as educational background, research, publications, awards/grants, and presentations.
Write Your Resume
Please refer to the following links to resume writing guides and samples:
- USC Career Center Resume Guide: Includes resume and cover letter tips and samples
Discover Campus Resources
Take advantage of the many on-campus resources you can utilize to support you through your job search and graduate experience, such as:
Beyond the PhD: PhD and Postdoctoral Career Conference
Offered in the Spring, this conference includes a keynote speaker, academic and nonacademic career panels, and round table sessions specifically tailored to PhDs and postdoctoral scholars
USC Graduate School
Provides academic support, thesis/dissertation resources, and fellowship information
Graduate School Blog
Offers articles on valuable resources, fellowship information, funding resources, professional development events, and tips on navigating educational policies and procedures
USC Office of Postdoctoral Affairs
Access information on benefits/privileges, professional development workshops, blog, and information on academic policies and procedures for postdoctoral scholars
USC Postdoc Online Newsletter
Subscribe to the USC Postdoc newsletter here to stay up to date on postdoc resources and events
USC Postdoctoral Association
Represents all postdoctoral scholars on all USC campuses. Provides professional development, networking and social events. Includes a webcast archive of past events on applying and working in academia
USC Center for Excellence in Teaching
A university-wide, fellow-driven organization focused on enhancing teaching and learning.
USC Office of Research
The point of contact for participation and initiation of interdisciplinary university research programs, research proposal submission, and training on proposal preparation and funding strategies. Offers professional development resources for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars
USC Center for Excellence In Research
A faculty-initiated center that promotes the advancement of research university-wide. Offers peer-to-peer proposal review service and research advancement workshops on topics such as grant-writing and fellowship applications.