10 job hunting myths that could be holding you back from your next job in HE

Looking for a job is not always the most straightforward process, particularly within Higher Education. After all, you may have spent years studying for your PhD, only to find that there’s thousands of other individuals competing for the same roles.

What’s more, according to CV-Library’s latest research, almost a third (30.8%) of professionals working within education believe there are set rules to follow when job hunting. Luckily, not all the myths are true.

Below, we explore the ten job-hunting myths that could be holding you back from your next job in Higher Education, revealing whether they’re right or wrong and offering useful advice for your job search.

1. You can’t get a job without relevant experience

We found that over half (54.1%) of respondents believe that if you don’t have relevant experience, you won’t get the job.

While many academic roles in Higher Education will require you to have a certain set of skills and knowledge, it is possible to secure a job in a completely new field, so long as you have the right attitude and transferable skills for the job.

Interestingly, in recent years many universities have opted to operate more like businesses in the private sector. This means they’re keen to bring in people with experience in other industries to help drive them forward and widen their knowledge base.

2. You should apply to as many jobs as possible

While you should aim to broaden your horizons and apply for the jobs that interest you, try to focus on quality over quantity to get the most out of your job search. Spend time on your applications by researching common HE issues and anything relating to the University you want to work at.

Most professionals within the Higher Education sector will do this anyway, as you’ll want to be passionate about the subjects you’re teaching, the people you’re working with and the institution you represent.         

3. Your CV needs a unique design to stand out

While 49.2% of professionals believe this to be true, a unique CV design can be off-putting. It’s better to stick with a clear layout that’s easy to read, using a traditional font such as Arial or Calibri.

4. You should arrive 30 minutes early to an interview

Four in 10 (42.6%) respondents feel it’s best to be super early to an interview, but 30 minutes may be a little too punctual. After all, it could annoy your potential employer. Instead, aim to arrive around 5-10 minutes before it’s due to start and if in doubt, grab a coffee to kill some time.

5. The most skilled candidate will get the job

Employers in the industry want the best cultural fit for their University, sometimes that’s the most skilled candidate, sometimes it’s about potential. Equally, they want someone that’s going to be passionate about their subject.

So, while 29.5% of respondents believe the most skilled candidate will get the job, this isn’t always the case; so long as you demonstrate your potential on your CV and cover letter, you can still make a great impression.

6. Your CV should only be one page long

While 27.9% of professionals believe that your CV should only be one page long – this isn’t the case for those working in Higher Education. In general, for those working in schools or colleges, CVs should be a maximum of two pages, but an academic CV is much longer.

In fact, if you’re working in Higher Education, you can afford to go up to four or five pages, as it’s normal to go into great detail about your achievements so far, including any publications or research you’ve worked on.

7. You shouldn’t negotiate on an entry level position

Once you’ve finished your PhD and are ready to embark on a fruitful career, it can be difficult to understand your position in the job market. When it comes to negotiating on a job offer, be conscious that while there may be room for negotiation, you may not have as much leverage as your more seasoned industry peers.

8. You can’t change industries

While 18% of respondents believe you can’t change industries, never let this hold you back in your job search. Many Higher Education professionals go onto work in journalism, or even within a business environment. You’ll have a wealth of transferrable skills which are valued not only within education, but within private organisations too.

9. You can’t get a job without a degree

If you’re looking to become a lecturer, research officer, professor and so on, you’ll most certainly need a degree and a PhD at that. However, this isn’t always the case for other areas of education. For example, in some institutions, experience as a teaching assistant may suffice for someone that wanted to become a teacher or instructor.

10. The internet is the only place to find a job

Just under one in 10 (9.8%) of respondents felt this was true. While most people do start their job search online, within Higher Education it’s common to find out about opportunities through word of mouth.

So be sure to keep up with your industry peers so you never miss any news about a potential job opportunity.

Don’t let these job hunting myths hold you back

According to Universities UK, the UK Higher Education system currently employs over 400,000 members of staff, 49.3% of which are on academic contracts.

These numbers are only set to grow, so it’s important to stand out in your job search to improve your chances of securing a great role in the sector.

To read the full results of the survey, click here

Looking for your next academic role?

Global Academy Jobs specialises in vacancies in the academic and research sector.

Read more

The Global Academy Jobs team wield their incredible range of super-powers from a tiny office, surrounded by water, in Oxford, England.

Global Academy Jobs Bulletin

The best career advice and a carefully curated selection of the top academic positions, straight to your inbox