I have no teaching experience but still wants that lecturer job


Hi all,

I am near completion of my PhD and I am looking for jobs in academia. There are some lecturers' jobs which I am interested in. Yet, these jobs require experience in teaching which I don't have because my institute is more research-oriented than teaching based. Do you think I should still apply to these jobs considering that most of them are for top universities?


You certainly have nothing to lose from applying- you never know, you might get the position! and how brill would that be? seriously though, while you may not have experience of teaching (e.g. lecturing etc) you may have transferable skills that will be just as useful and make you a really strong candidate e.g. teaching/demonstrating things to junior members of your lab, giving conference talks or lab meetings etc

Good luck


Hi Ju-ju,

Thank you for your advice. It remains to be seen whether this still applies in the current economic context even though your points on transferable skills and conference experience are indeed very relevant for demonstrating teaching ability/experience.


Hi Yoplew - sorry to be the bearer of bad news but there will be so many people out there who do have teaching experience who you will be competing against.
I've always been told that obviously you need the PhD but unless you have publications and teaching experience you won't even get on the short list. Is there some teaching (at your university or any others within travelling distance) that you could maybe do next semester. It might be worth getting in touch with the relevant departments. Then you can at least put in your job applications that you are teaching.
Have a look at this website http://www.jobs.ac.uk/careers/articles/
There are some really useful articles about what to do after your PhD, how to write an academic CV and what is needed to get a lecturer job. There may be some tips on how you can get round not having done any teaching by focusing on your other skills or areas which you could class as teaching in some form if you have done any work with undergraduates.
Good luck, it's a tough world out there. I'm getting worried about now, and I won't be applying for jobs for another year yet.


Hi Yoplew,

I have also noticed all academic jobs are now asking for substantive teaching experience - even when they are entertaining entry-level academics. Gone are the days when just the PhD got you the job!

I suggest you still apply for the posts. One university was very interested in me because of my speciality, and they were not too concerned about my lack of teaching experience. They said teaching ability would be assessed on the basis of giving a seminar/presentation during the interview process.

Once you finish your PhD, you'd be wise to apply for part-time/ad hoc teaching opportunities asap.

Unfortunately it is becoming more and more difficult to get a lecturer's post because of increased competition from foreign-educated academics who want to work here (god only knows why!) and as you mention the economic crisis which may bring in more competition from industry and tighten university budgets.

...but well, at least we don't work in financial services.


I have to agree, that a lot of jobs are asking for substantial teaching (and research) experience, and publications. I've applied for loads (actually mostly overseas, doesn't seem to be much around in the UK at the moment, for my field anyway) and haven't heard from any. And I'd say I have a lot of teaching experience from the last two years, with small group seminars, essay marking, lab and field demonstrating, and lecturing on two Masters courses. But the process of applying is good practice in itself, though time consuming. I don't know your field, but perhaps its more realistic to look for a post-doc with someone respected, and if you can negotiate a bit of teaching then even better.


Thank you guys for these advices. I am more certain now that there is little value in applying without prior experience. It's a bit of a catch-22 situation I must admit. Thanks again and feel free to comment anytime. The more the better.


I don't want to piss on anyone's fire, but I've got 2 articles published in leading journals (one of which is ISI), have 2 years' worth of teaching experience across 3 different modules, have presented at all of the top conferences in my field, have administrative experience, had 2 postdocs, one funded by the ESRC. Despite this experience (which really should make me as desirable a candidate for an entry-level lectureship as possible) I haven't had an interview for any of the 85 lecturing jobs for which I have applied.

Outside of academia, I was interviewed for 5 out of 6 research-type jobs I applied for and am now working in strategic marketing, workign fewer hours than I would in academia, withouth the myriad hassles of the latter either. My advice to PhD students would be to focus on professional employment outside academia. As another contributor has noted, UK universities will just cherry-pick from abroad anyway, so unless you are really prepared to go off to an "emerging education market" (i.e. the Gulf states) to work then I would forget about higher education if I were you.


wj_gibson, I guess there is no logic to any of these in that case. I thought someone with your experience would have no problem in getting the job. I have only 8 months (part-time) teaching experience, my PhD still not complete, but I got 3 interviews out of 5 teaching jobs I applied for this autumn. This doesn't change the result though... nobody gives me a job :-(


Blimey Wj gibson - that is scary stuff! what is your field?


My PhD was in global politics - although my subject matter and theoretical approach, being so inter-disciplinary, makes it hard for me to easily identify myself within any of the main areas of International Relations (which is what I'd be teaching if I ever got an academic job). Still, 85 applications and no interviews - admittedly, some of these were before I had an article published - is really soul-destroying when I consider how much effort I put into the PhD in the first place. It's one of the myriad destructive aspects of the RAE process. I don't know why I bothered, to be quite honest. I could have got my current job with "just" a Master's.


WJ_gibson, I can sort of understand that, though it does sound very soul destroying. I must admit it worries me sometimes that being interdisciplinary might be interesting for research and to one's supervisors, but doesn't fit very easily into some HE organisational structures. I can envisage similar problems for myself postdoc, unless I align myself strongly with one particular discipline in order to get future jobs, from what you've said.

One of my supervisors ran an MA years back that was regarded in that area as innovative because of its interdisciplinary approach to the subject, and it turned out some great students. All the staff that taught on it had great research profiles too. The course folded in the end, partly as it didn't fit into the existing uni faculty structure, and was a 'problem' as the RAE results didn't belong to just one department. I've seen a similar situation at my current uni where someone with excellent research outputs doesn't fit very obviously into the dept he was employed in, in terms of his subject interests, and I have wondered whether it's hindered his career prospects, compared to others whose work is less high profile but fits better into the dept subject areas.


If I could go back and do the PhD again (perish the thought) then I would just do something that was as close to the mainstream orthodoxy in my field as possible. Contemporaries of mine who did PhDs in more conventional areas, using mroe conventional theoretical approaches and methodologies have mostly gone on to get some kind of work as academics - even if temporary positions - with considerably less on their CVs than myself. But I can't even get a temporary post, never mind a permanent one. This does flag up another deeply upsetting aspect of the process - supervisors always like methodologically innovative work as it gets them out of having to read "yet another" thesis on game theory or whatever - but they don't inform you about how choices made at the very first stages of the PhD have a fundamental impact on determining your desirability to academic departments.


Hey WJ_gibson, I'm doing IR too, but a very unorthdox approach... what (more precisely) did you do. I'm starting to get worried about jobs too - applying like mad. And I've seen lots of friends fall when it came to jobs, I'd really like to hear your experiences...


My work looked at a couple of big anti-globalisation protests, and took literature about global civil society as a potential force in global politics as its starting point (Falk; Shaw; Held; Scholte - and particularly the Gramscian lot of Cox, Gill and Rupert). I then approached the issue from Foucauldian and Lacanian viewpoints (well, not Lacan himself, but people like Laclau, Stavrakakis, Butler, Zizek). It was a complex and difficult piece that I was never entirely happy with (although it did make a significant advance in attacking all of the structural/historicist determinism that defines far too much GCS literature), but I passed the viva OK and have got a couple of journal articles out of it subsequently. I'm in the current issue of Alternatives, actually. I'm quite pleased about that. But it makes me a political theorist-cum-philosopher-cum-sociologist without really being definitively any of those things alone.

I then worked for 12 months as an ESRC postdoc in the same department, and then got a 6-month research officer's position at the LSE. I've applied for a few research grants as well (horrendouisly time-consuming things), but although I came close to getting a couple of them, they were ultimately declined.

I'm trying to score a book contract at present, although I'm working as a market researcher rather than in academic capacity at the minute so it's not easy to find the time to get on with much academic work.

So - I finished the PhD April 2006. Since then - 85-90 lectureship applications, all over the world. I've done a lot of teaching on courses in IR, Globalisation and even those research methods courses that full-time academics always aim to offload on to someone else. Many lecturers were of the view that the fact I won a 12-month ESRC postdoc would lead me easily on to lecturing, but that hasn't been the case. I don't know where I've gone "wrong"; I probably haven't (except to say that I could perhaps have published 1 or 2 more articles), it's more that the number of PhDs has increased vastly in the last 10 years, but the number of job openings has increased at a much slower rate, reducing the odds of getting any work in it.

I would advise looking outside of academia as much as possible, and don't focus all of your energies on getting a lectureship. Lecturers might say "you'll get there eventually" but the brutal truth is that you very well may not, even if you spend 5 years as a TA slave living on beans on toast, complete with the nagging suspicion that all of your undergraduate peers are earning 50K and own their own houses whilst you (the highest achiever in your year) have got nowt.

Market research isn't the greatest thing on earth but it's a lot better than you might think.