Career support for international PhDs and junior academics

Career development support for PhDs and junior academics is an important part of preparation for future employment. The main aim of career development support is to help PhD students and early career researchers:

  • Understand the specifics of job search in the labour market for researchers

  • Explore career opportunities within and beyond academia

  • Navigate them in terms of decision making of their future job and

  • Develop their skills to match the requirements of potential employers.

If there is career support service for researchers at your institution, make sure that it is also available for international PhD students and researchers and that it takes their specific needs into account.  As they probaly have neither knowledge of local labour market nor strong professional network in your country they might benefit from availibilty of career advice a lot.

Ensuring accessibility of career advice to international PhD students and researchers might help you to:

  • Increase the attractiveness of your institution for international talents as they see that the support for their next step will be available to them

  • Retain international researchers (and your potential collaborators) in your region

  • Develop collaboration with local employers who gain an access to wider pool of highly skilled candidates.

Final output: career support services available to international researchers and PhD students.

Major activities: Examples of such services might include professional career coaching, individual career counselling, interactive trainings, workshops, online navigation tools etc.


Improved access to information Improved skills and knowledge

Basic information

Categories Profesional & Academic Development
Mobility stages During mobility phase
Delivery schedule Continuous
Importance Important to have
Scale of organizational change
Target groups PhD student/Early career researcher
Types of contracts of researchers Full degree student Employee in training (interns, research fellows, postdocs)
Career stages of researchers Less than 6 months 6-12-months of experience 1-3-years of experience 3-10 years of experience
Lengths of stays of researchers 6-12 months More than 12 months

Practice setup


The next set of questions will help you to analyse the current state of career coaching possibilities and next steps related to improving career coaching services at your institution:

  • What type of activities/career support does your institutions provide?

  • Do they also target researchers and PhD students?

  • Who is in charge of this agenda? Do they collaborate with international office at some activities?

  • Are they information and services available in English? 

  • How are the activities comminicated and promoted?


a. Does your institution offer career service to researchers and it is available in English?

  • Make sure the welcoming information includes the information about career support for researchers. Does the international department inform them at the beginning about the possibility of using career coaching centre? If no, communicate them the importance of this service and make sure they will inform incoming researchers about this possibility.

  • Highlight the availability of career advice at your institution through your website and social media dedicated to international researchers.

  • Include the information in the welcome package provided to researchers.

  • Ask supervisors to communicate their reseachers a possibility to use the career coaching service.

b. Does your institution provide career service to researchers but it is only available in domestic language?

  • Try to explain your colleagues the possible advantages for extending their service to international researchers. Use good practices of other institutions. Explain the possible advantages of engaging international researchers.

c. Does your institution provide career service but it is only available to undergraduate and graduate students?

  • Explore what activities are available within their portfolio. Many information they provide to students might be just as relevant for PhD candidate. E. g they might be interested in local labour market or specifics of local working culture. It might be quite feasible for professionals from career advice centres to adapt the workshop on CV writing or career planning to fit the needs of researchers.

  • Colleagues form career service can provide you with an access to local employers they collaborate with. Some of them might offer career opportunities for researchers.

d. Is there no career support service available at your institution?

  • Identify the partners to collaborate with, e. g. when counselling and advising the specific issues. Maybe local EURES could offer basic information about the labour market. Or maybe there is and organisation or network focusing on labour market integration of researchers.

  • Do you collaborate with EURAXESS centres? Many of them offer career workshops or trainings.

  • Make use of the available online tools. Integrate them in the information provided to PhD students and researchers.

Cost of practice setup
Time required for practice setup
Personnel effort required for practice setup
Description of collaboration

Practice delivery

Activities of potential career development service:

  • Consultancy services (individual guidance)

  • Providing a broad variety of workshops & training programmes for PhDs and academics

  • Regular coordination with other actors in the university environment

  • Work based training

  • Informing about important calls and deadlines regarding funding opportunities

  • Podcast, blog - aimed at the topic of career development & coaching for academics

  • Giving advice PhD students, academics, supervisors and relevant stakeholders

You can consult REFLEX framework to learn about further examples of activities to be included in the career services portfolio:

Topics to be addressed:

Think about the relevant topics/issues which may be interested for your target group. Write them down at the visible place of your department - researchers passing by may notice what they are looking for. Promote the content of possible consultations through your webpage and social media. On the list below you can find the potential topics related to career support activities.:

  • Career planning: Provide researchers with practical tips and tools for planning their career. Help them explore variety of career paths in academia and beyond.

  • Providing the advice in future career life of researchers: Many researchers are struggling with the issue if their PhD journey is the right way for them when it comes to build their career. Some of them do not know where they can use their degree after finishing their studies. They are afraid of lack of job opportunities for them. Try to navigate them about the different possibilities in academia or beyond.

  • Help with professional CV writing: Highlight the importance of well written CV and the possibility of helping them with this activity. There might be differences in how CV are written in different counties and cultures, discuss those differences with researchers and help them to understand specifics of your local context.

  • Enhancing and building skills: Faculty coaching helps people determine both long-term and short-term career priorities. Help researchers to understand the skills they have and the skills they need to develop to achieve those goals. Support them in finding suitable training opportunities to develop these skills. There are many competence frameworks that can help you with this. Have a look at e. g. Researcher Development Framework or Discovery Learning Skills Ontology.

  • Translating PhD skills from academia to business: Majority of PhD graduates will end up working outside academia, therefore, they are often looking for an advice and practical guideline for translating skills from academia into business world.

  • Wellbeing and work-life balance: Work with people on an individual basis and help with solving their personal and interpersonal issues in order to achieve their career goals and work in pleasant work environment, the personal conflicts at the work environment can sometimes occur when counselling with their supervisor or other members at their department. Therefore, it is important to navigate your researchers how to communicate properly with their supervisors and colleagues in order to finish ther research successfully and boost their career life.

If you do not have a chance to offer personalised career support, suggest the online tools PhD students and researchers can use to support their career development. Find some examples here:

Promoting the career service among the PhD students and international researchers

  • Please highlight the importance of career support possibilities at your institution through your website and social media dedicated to international PhD students and researchers

  • When describing the activities/ services of career support centre it is important to introduce the career consultants; description should consists of practical experience of career consultants, their research field which may attract the attention of PhDs and help them choose the right person for them.

Collecting feedback related to career coaching

  • Make sure that the evaluation questionnaire (or another relevant form of feedback) in which they can evaluate the level of satisfaction with the provided service in ENGLISH.

  • Communicate with international department if they provide the foreign researchers any kind of evaluation form after their leaving. If yes, make sure if the evaluation related to career coaching is implemented in this form.

Cost of practice delivery
Time required for practice delivery
Personnel effort required for practice delivery
Actors involved in practice delivery
  • HR Department
  • PR department
  • Research office
  • Researchers association
  • Career development centre
Partners involved in practice delivery
  • Municipality
  • Embassy
  • Immigration office
  • IOM migration information centre
  • EURAXESS centre
  • Job platform
  • Ministry of Education/Science/Research
  • Eures office
  • Other HEI/research organisation in city/region
  • Professional network (e.g., PhD students network, MCSA alumni chapter, etc.)
Indicators for evaluating progress/quality of practice delivery
  • Training plan and programme designed
  • Number of trainings implemented annually
  • Number of researchers trained annually
  • Average satisfaction rate
  • Number of events organized annually
Description of collaboration

Collaboration with external partners:

@EURAXESS centres 

  • can be a great source of information for your institution regarding promoting the trainings and workshops focused on Career coaching and Career Development issues. They provide activities for 2 target groups:

    • career development professionals - trainings aimed at how to deal with academics when providing career coaching

    • PhDs and academics - trainings for researchers focused on career development, decisions, work-life balance, career planning etc.

You can also:

  • Get in touch with local EURES office or job centre. They might offer various career skills training opprtunities. Find out if any of them could be of interest for researchers.

  • Team up with other research institutions in the region and organise something together.

  • Find out if there are any bottom-up initiatives organising career activities for researchers such as PhD students network, MSCA Alumni chapters etc.

  • Reach out to association of employers or chambers of commerce. It might be interesting for them to get an acess to research talent.

Examples of practice

Planning the content of career planning


When planning the content of career coaching the source of inspiration can be an e-book which helps you to explore options outside academia - 10-career-paths-for-phds.pdf (