Career Services


Career Services

The Office for Postdoctoral Affairs is dedicated to the career development of our postdoctoral scholars.

One-on-One Consultations Individual Development Plan
CVs, Resumes and Cover Letters Network Like a Pro
Job Boards Job Resources
Salary / Cost of living comparison  



One-on-One Consultations

If you would like assistance with the following areas, please schedule an appointment with the Career Consultant for your Program’s college at Graduate Career Services. 

  • Writing or updating your CV and/or resume
  • Converting a CV to a resume
  • Cover Letters
  • Interviewing 
  • Networking
  • Personal Branding

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Individual Development Plan

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a great tool to help postdocs define their career goals and explore career options.

Sciences and Engineering

In 2003, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) put together an IDP template for postdocs in the sciences. Building on that template, Science Careers, FASEB, AAAS, and several other organizations came together and created this free online career planning tool specifically for graduate students and postdocs. myIDP takes a postdoc through four steps 1) self-evaluation of skills, values, and interests, 2) exploring and evaluating career opportunities and identifying career options, 3) setting career development goals & 4) implementing a plan of action. myIDP also allows users to share their IDP or portions of their IDP with their mentors.

To access myIDP please go to:

To learn more about myIDP please read “You Need a Game Plan”, which is the first in a series of articles regarding myIDP that is published in

Social Sciences and Humanities

ImaginePhD is a free and confidential career-exploration and planning tool for the humanities and social sciences. Over 80 career professionals from 56 universities across the United States and Canada spent over three years to create this online tool. ImaginePhD allows users to 1) assess their career-related skills, interests, and values, 2) explore careers paths appropriate to their disciplines, 3) create self-defined goals, and 4) map out next steps for career and professional development success.

To access ImagingPhD, please go to:

Check the following article for more information from the ImaginePhD team.
A New Way for Ph.D.s to Plan Their Careers

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CVs, Resumes and Cover Letters

Depending on the type of job, you will need to create a Curriculum Vitae (CV) or a resume.  Both documents put your qualification in writing, but they are used for different audiences and use a different format.

When to use a Resume

In the United States, most employers use resumes for non-academic positions, which are one or two page summaries of your experience, education, and skills.  Employers rarely spend more than a few minutes reviewing a resume and successful resumes are concise with enough white space on the page to make it easy to scan. 

When to use a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a longer synopsis of your educational and academic background as well as teaching and research experience, publications, awards, presentations, honors, and additional details.  CV’s are used when applying for academic, scientific, or research positions.  International employers often use CVs as well.

A curriculum vita (CV) is a comprehensive statement emphasizing:

  • education
  • professional qualifications
  • experience
  • accomplishments
  • activities
  • special qualifications

A CV can vary from two pages to several pages. Professionals seeking academic positions and non-academic positions in science, higher education, research, and health care typically use a CV. It is also used to seek a fellowship or grant and is expected for some positions overseas. Consult with faculty members in your field to determine what is expected and appropriate for your field.


Formatting Your CV Teaching Statements
Research Statements Letters of Recommendation
Formatting Your Resume Sections to Include on a Resume
Resume Examples Cover Letters - Basics
Cover Letters - Industry Examples Cover Letters - Academic Samples

Formatting Your CV

Teaching Statements

Research Statements

Letters of Recommendation

Formatting Your Resume

  • Length - A resume can be over one page, but then must be AT LEAST 1.5 pages, best to fill up two pages.
  • Emphasis - Rather than focusing on your coursework and research, resumes highlight work experience and transferable skills that pertain to a particular job. To this end, some project, research and/or grant experience may be appropriate to include.
  • Format - Resumes are typically structured under specific headings. For list of headings, see What Sections to Include on a Resume below.

Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are those skills you acquire as a student that can be utilized in work settings. The ability to clearly state on a resume what these skills are is crucial to a successful job search. To begin thinking about what skills you can offer a new employer, make a list of abilities and accomplishments that are important to you as a student and think about what general skills they involved. Some examples include your ability to:

  • Collect and analyze data
  • Research and solve problems
  • Write reports and present findings
  • Explain complex problems to a range of audiences

You can learn more about the strategic portrayal of transferable job skills at

List of PhD Transferable Skills

What Sections to Include on a Resume

  • Education - List institutions of higher education and degrees earned. You may also include GPA, Majors and Minors, Honors, and a list of relevant course work for certain jobs and industries.
  • Experience - Accurately and concisely illustrate your work and your academic experiences that are most relevant to the position that you are seeking. Highlight duties that demonstrate your skills in active voice using action verbs. Focus on your accomplishments and achievements - NOT just a summary of your responsibilities. Depending on the position, you may also choose to include "Project Experience," "Research Experience," and "Leadership Experience."
  • Activities - Any activities (such as teaching, heading a student organization, etc.) that you complete during your academic career can be transformed into work experience on a resume. You may choose to title this section volunteer work, community involvement, and/or leadership activities.
  • Skills - Think about the skills you have gained that are transferable to the workplace. These may include language, computer and managerial skills.

What Sections NOT to Include on a Resume

  • References - Names of references should be provided separately, if requested.
  • Publications - These should be listed on a separate page, or you may include a distinct section called “Selected Publications.”
  • Extensive Course Work - Only include the classes are most relevant to the type of job you are seeking.


Cover Letters - Basics


Examples of Cover Letters for Industry Positions

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Network Like a Pro

Network Like a pro

You may think that your friend was born a natural conversationalist. Or perhaps you are a little jealous that someone you know is “lucky” to be so outgoing. The truth is luck has nothing to do with it. Networking takes effort, skill, and practice. A good networker must do much more than simply make party talk.  They must know how to put others at ease.

Whether you find yourself networking at a social function, a business event, or at a conference, know how to put your best foot forward and build relationships with new people you meet by following these 8 fundamentals to networking success.

Fundamental #1:  Turn conversations into connections

Whether it’s a conference, social gathering, business function, dinner or reception, there are numerous times throughout your career and lifetime where you will have an opportunity to engage both formally and informally with individuals and broaden your knowledge and circle of influence.  Your goal isn’t about impressing anyone or ‘making the sale’. 

Look at each as a unique opportunity to gain insights, to put together a puzzle, to learn something new or to help someone out.  Most importantly though, be purposeful and have in mind what is your goal for the event.  If the event is social, maybe it’s just a casual exchange based on similar interests or hobbies.  If it’s a conference, maybe you want to ensure you meet some key people and introduce yourself.  Whatever the event, think of the outcomes and how you may want and need to ‘show up’.

Fundamental #2:  Focus on Net-Giving not Net-Working

No one likes a business card pusher and depending upon the type of event, you may need to leave that elevator pitch at home as well.  Give your ear, time and feedback to others without expecting anything in return.  Offer to connect a few people together that you know will provide value to one another.  Offer to brainstorm an idea or issue with a colleague or someone new to your group.  Share your passions and expertise freely and it will return to you ten-fold.

Fundamental #3:  Redefine networking to mean ‘Making Industry Friends’

Networking is really talking to nice people, with whom you get on, about things that you’re both interested in – they just happen to be in your (or a related) industry or field.  The next time you feel moved to do something that could be considered networking, try and reframe it as ‘Making Industry Friends’.

Needing to email a potential contact and ask them for coffee or an informational interview?  You’re just making an industry friend who could turn out to be a new industry connection.  We can almost guarantee that you’ve benefitted from making friends without ever having thought of it as networking.

Fundamental #4:  Look and feel your best

Just as many people in the room may be as nervous about the situation as you are.  There are few people who are born conversationalists or networkers and likely just as many that cringe when they hear the word networking and come up with a litany of excuses as to why not. 

Carry yourself with confidence when you enter the room.  Dress appropriately for the situation.  When in doubt, overdress slightly…men can always take off a tie and fold it into their pocket if it appears that people are business casual.  Your appearance says as much about you as the words you use, so make sure that your wardrobe conveys the right messages.

Approach individuals with a warm smile, make eye contact, extend a firm handshake and introduce yourself.  Remember that 90% of all communications is non-verbal.  People react to your physical cues and take the lead in how you behave. 

Fundamental #5:  Ask questions

Ask people about themselves.  You don’t have to be witty and conversational if you can just ask questions.  People love to talk about themselves and the more you know about them the more likely it is that you can refer someone to them at a future time.  Begin with small talk, it’s an obligation.  There’s no faster way to annoy someone than to be the obsessed individual who wants to talk only about themselves, their work or their interests. Or who pushes their business card into your hand.

Find conversation starters besides, ‘what do you do?’ and use open ended questions, not yes/no questions.  For instance, ‘The traffic was horrible for me tonight, where did you come in from?’, ‘How long have you been at the University?’, ‘“How long have you been a member of this organization?” “I read your book!” Or … “I was really impressed by the speech you gave at an event last year.” “I've never been to this event before. Have you?  Any tips you could give me on what to expect?”

Fundamental #6:  Exit Gracefully

Some of the conversation starters we just spoke of can be the launching pad you need to start networking and feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar situation.  But you’ll eventually need a natural way to exit a conversation just as much as you needed a natural way to start one.  A good rule of thumb is to talk for 5-10 minutes and then move on. 

Here are some closing statements that are polite, but still get the message across that you are moving on.

  • Exit gracefully:  It was really a pleasure speaking with you.  I’m going to take a look at some of the exhibits here, but if I don’t run into your later, I hope to see you at another event soon.
  • To connect later:  I have to head out right now, but I really enjoyed learning more about your work. Could I get your contact info to schedule a time for us to finish our conversation?
  • Plan to follow up date:  I had a great time talking with you—are you planning to go to the conference next month? It seems like something that would be relevant to both of us; perhaps I’ll see you there.
  • Get advice and get out the door:  I'm in a tricky stage in my career and wonder if I could pick your brain for advice over lunch sometime soon. I need to say hello to a few others here, but can we plan to connect next week?
  • Flee the scene:  It’s been great getting to know you, but I need to say hello to a few more folks around here. I hope you have a great evening.

Networking isn’t always smooth sailing, and most of us have at least a few awkward experiences to share. But learning how to start and close conversations is one of the best ways to master this important skill.  And just as you started the conversation with a warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake; you do the same at the exit; confidently look them in the eye and with a warm smile say, ‘it was great meeting you.’  Shake hands and move on.

Fundamental #7:  Be mindful of etiquette protocols     

At many networking events, drinks are typically free or offered at a nominal fee.  If you drink, be mindful of not over indulging.  Having a drink to be sociable is fine; having multiple drinks and not being able to carry on a conversation is inappropriate.  Space out your drinks, ensure you eat or alternate with a soda or water.

If you don’t drink, that’s okay as well.  You should never feel pressured to conform and have an alcoholic drink so you ‘fit in’.  It is becoming more common today to see individuals particularly in business networking settings, having a non-alcoholic drink.

Try not to drink beer or soda from the can or bottle.  You’re not at a baseball game.  Transfer it to a glass.  Keep a cocktail napkin handy to absorb the dampness from the glass in the event of shaking hands.  Keep the drink in your left hand so you can comfortably shake hands with your right.  No umbrellas in drinks either.  Be refined.

In terms of food, you’re not here to eat; you’re here to meet people first.  Enjoying the buffet is secondary to your purpose at the function. However, when you do enjoy the appetizers, small plates, small portions, and multiple trips is in order.  A loaded plate is not.  And avoid where possible messy foods.  Just as your appearance conveys messages about you, so do your manners.  Make sure they are consistent with how you want people to remember you. 

Fundamental #8:  Practice-Practice-Practice

The more opportunities that you have to engage with and meet other people in a variety of networking situations, the more you will become comfortable with networking and more confident in your skills. 

The more confident you are, the more you will be able to relax, understand what it is you want to achieve at the event, enjoy the people you are engaging with, make some great connections and have fun while you’re doing it.


Notre Dame Graduate Career Services

Notre Dame Office for Postdoctoral Affairs

September 2014

Job Boards

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Job Resources

The following career resources provide helpful information for those seeking a position in the sciences, humanities, engineering, and the social sciences and address questions from students and postdocs wanting to work in academia, industry, government, or in the non-profit sector.

The Chronicle of Higher Education: News and jobs in academia and higher education, also at

A Guide to Government Careers

  • The resource ‘A Guide to Government Careers’, provides an enticing look at working for the government. It discusses many of the perks, including the large number of vacancies in a wide variety of jobs, job security, competitive salaries, student loan forgiveness, and the opportunity to make a difference to society. It also covers how to apply for jobs, and has numerous helpful resources and a section dedicated to AmeriCorps.

The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job FASTER 

  • A step-by-step, time-limited instructions for the most frustrating part of finding work — getting a first interview.
  • This science-based process splits the job search into manageable pieces, each requiring at most 15 minutes, to help those looking for work conduct the best job search possible.

Career Planning Resources for PhDs - dougsguides

  • Guides
  • eBooks and PDFs
  • Self-Assessments
  • Videos, Workshops and Presentations

The Quick and Relatively Painless Guide to Your Academic Job Search: In this book, you will find advice on the following:

  • What really happens to your job application
  • The top mistakes of a bad job cover letter
  • How to handle your conference interview
  • How to dominate the campus visit
  • How to negotiate an offer

NIH Trainee Workshop Handouts and Presentations: The NIH Office of Intramural Training & Education (OITE) makes most of the proceedings from their events for postdocs at the NIH available for anyone, anywhere to access for free. Visit this page to find a wealth of career resources (videocasts and presentation files) from their past events, including information about presenting and publishing your research, project management, job searches in academia and industry, interviewing, and even business etiquette. 

How-To Guides from Guides providing advice on a number of skills such as interviewing, networking obtaining funding, and managing a lab. 

Vault Career Guides: Electronic guidebooks about employers and career fields provided free of charge to Stanford students and postdocs. Choose any of the 90 titles, such as Biotech Careers / Fundraising & Philanthropy Careers / Top Consulting Firms / Top Government & Non-Profit Employers.

How to Prepare Your Curriculum Vitae: Shows how to organize your teaching and research experience, as well as what to keep in and what to leave out. Eight sample CVs from Anthropology, Astronomy, Clinical Psychology, Computer Science, Economics, German, Mathematics, and Women’s Studies. Includes a new chapter on crafting international CVs.

Money for Graduate Students in the following areas: These books provide more than 3,000 funding sources. Gives the purpose, eligibility, monetary award, duration, special features, and deadline for programs.

  • Arts & Humanities 
  • Biological Sciences
  • Health Sciences
  • Physical & Earth Sciences 
  • Social & Behavioral Sciences

So What Are You Going To Do With That? Finding Careers Outside Academia: Rethinking life after graduate school; soul-searching before job searching; networking and transitional experience; turning a CV into a resume; and how to turn an interview into a job.

The Academic Job Search Handbook: Covers all aspects of the faculty job search with invaluable tips and updated advice. Addresses challenges such as those faced by dual-career couples and job search issues for pregnant candidates.

Job Search in Academe: The Insightful Guide for Faculty Job Candidates by Dawn M. Formo Offers case studies of candidates who have followed both academic and non-academic paths. Includes issues such as those faced by minority candidates and by scientist candidates needing to negotiate faculty contracts to ensure adequate lab space/resources. Sample application letters and vitae are included. 

From Student to Scholar: A Candid Guide to Becoming a Professor: Covers a range of critical issues; how to plan, complete and defend a dissertation; improve teaching performance; publish research; develop a professional network; and garner support for tenure.

Put Your Science to Work: The Take-Charge Career Guide for Scientists: For new scientists and engineers or those seeking a mid-career change, this title gives you practical advice and techniques for finding traditional or non-traditional jobs in science. Includes examples of resumes and cover letters, and stories of scientists who have moved into a wide range of careers.

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