A gallery of projects, historical and otherwise

Resources for an Expansive Job Search: Humanities & Social Sciences

Compiled by Anne Mitchell Whisnant, Ph.D.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

(updated 1/07/2014)

This page includes a mix of sites that discuss larger issues involved in converting graduate training in the humanities or social sciences to a nonacademic career, and sites that include job listings.  Because individuals’ career trajectories can be so varied, a big part of successfully transitioning from graduate school to satisfying employment involves plugging into the broader conversation about the wide range of careers actually pursued by those with this training.  While many of these resources are specifically geared to some of the problems faced by those with Ph.D.s, much of their advance is relevant and valuable to those with master’s degrees who either seek employment, or who are considering continuing to the Ph.D.

Big-Picture Resources

  • The most interesting recent compilation of essays and perspectives about “alternative” career paths for humanities and social sciences Ph.D.s is the online book #Alt-Academy: Alternative Academic Careers for Humanities Scholars, MediaCommons, 2011:  http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/alt-ac/
  • Versatile Ph.D.:  http://versatilephd.com/.  This is the premier online resource for Ph.D.s and ABDs (humanities, social sciences, and now STEM disciplines!) seeking to expand their professional horizons.  Access to the full content (including paid, premium content) of Versatile Ph.D. is available only to those at subscribing universities or organizations, but the discussion forums are free and open to all.  Versatile Ph.D. contains:
    • A confidential, topical discussion forum in which all 15,000+ members of the community can talk about professional development and job searching issues, strategies, experiences, etc.  Here is the place to seek advice and deploy your own expertise to help others in a supportive, nurturing environment.
    • Job listings.
    • Announcements about local/regional Versatile Ph.D. “meetups” with real people!
    • Regular panel discussions with Versatile Ph.D.s now employed in various fields such as grant writing, management consulting, university administration, and policy analysis.
    • Premium content including “Hiring Success Stories,” “Career Autobiographies,” “Advancement Success Stories” and past Panel Discussion archives.
  • Alt/Academix provides “concrete advice on how graduate students and those transitioning from teaching positions can make themselves marketable for academic administrative positions. Our services include workshops, job letter and cv/resume editing, and career transition consulting.”
  • AAUP’s annual faculty compensation surveys, published in March/April issue of Academe (http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubsres/academe/) each year.  Includes specific salary data, by institution and rank, for hundreds of institutions.  Great reality check for what professors earn.
  • “100 Reasons Not to Go to Grad School” blog.  http://100rsns.blogspot.com/  “This blog is an attempt to offer those considering graduate school some good reasons to do something else. Its focus is on the humanities and social sciences.”
  • Alternative phd’s “Thinking of Quitting” resources: http://alternativephd.wordpress.com/thinking-of-quitting/.  Good list of blogs and resources about leaving academia.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education contains many articles about nonacademic careers, especially under their “Beyond the Ivory Tower” heading:  http://chronicle.com/section/Advice-Columns/144/
  • Covert, Liz, “Resources for Transitions out of Academia,” January 2014.
  • Debelius, Maggie and Susan Basalla, So What Are You Going to Do with That?” Finding Careers Outside Academia (University of Chicago Press, 2007).  First and probably only book with advice on this topic.  http://www.press.uchicago.edu/presssite/metadata.epl?mode=synopsis&bookkey=222067
  • Gulati, Daniel, “Diversity Your Dreams,” Harvard Business Review, 28 February 2012, http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/02/diversify_your_dreams.html
  • Inside HigherEd also contains occasional columns about nonacademic careers:  http://www.insidehighered.com/
  • “Another Academic Bites the Dust”: https://anotheracademicbitesthedust.wordpress.com/. Has some good links to other similar sites.
  • Lord, Alexandra, “BeyondAcademe”:  http://www.beyondacademe.com.  Web site tailored to historians moving out of academia, but has good general advice on resumes, CVs, informational interviewing, etc.
  • Lord, Alexandra, “Every Ph.D. Needs a Plan B,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 16 March 2009, online at:  http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2009/03/2009031601c.htm
  • “Leaving Academia” blog (Sabine Hikel) http://www.leavingacademia.com/.  Hikel has recently announced her intention to stop maintaining this blog, but it still contains quite a bit of good information and links.
  • National Coalition of Independent Scholars: http://www.ncis.org/
  • PhD [alternative] Career Clinic:  http://phdcareerclinic.com/
  • Social Science Research Council’s “Academia and the Public Sphere Initiative,” which “maps studies of the historical transformation of the relationship between academia and the public sphere, including both the elite public policy discourse and the public sphere at large.”
  • “Sellout: A Resource for PhDs Considering Careers Beyond the University” http://www.ironstring.com/sellout/
  • University Affairs/Affaires universitaires (Canada) http://www.universityaffairs.ca/default.aspx . “Canada’s most authoritative source of information about and for Canada’s university community. . . . provides breaking news, provocative commentary, and in-depth articles about university trends, as well as practical advice and tools to help your career, whether you’re a university administrator, faculty member or grad student.”  Kind of like the Chronicle of Higher Education for Canada.

New Media/Social Networks

  • University Affairs Canada has a large presence on YouTube, with a series of recorded panel conversations like the one we are having today.  Check it out at  http://www.youtube.com/user/universityaffairsca.  Search the channel for “non-academic.”
  • On Twitter, you can follow the #altac hashtag (alternate academic careers) for lots of information on non-faculty careers in academe and the cultural/nonprofit sector.

Some Sample Field-Specific Resources and/or Job Resources (Certainly not comprehensive!)


Career Paths beyond the Faculty for Humanities & Social Sciences

Workshop I gave at the University of Central Florida, March 2012


 Additional Resources for Orlando workshop.


  1. Kevin Hawkins

    You might add http://www.alt-academix.com/ to this list.

  2. Anne Whisnant

    Added! Thank you.

  3. Kevin Hawkins

    You might add a link to http://fromphdtolife.com/resources/ .

  4. Kevin Hawkins

    You might add a link to http://chronicle.com/article/You-Dont-Have-to-Love-Your/144709/ .

  5. Kevin Hawkins

    Sorry for clogging up your comments, but I just came across another resource: http://thesiswhisperer.com/2015/09/16/from-scholar-to-dollar/

  6. Kevin Hawkins

    Another suggestion: https://www.imaginephd.com/

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