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PhD Career Planning and Exploration Tools

Identifying the job that is right for you—whether in academe, industry or beyond—takes work, and competing successfully for that job warrants a new approach to career planning. Each PhD graduate brings different characteristics, skills and talents, and taking some time to analyze those individual characteristics will assist in formulating an effective career plan. Explore the free resources to assist PhD students and Postdocs with Career Planning and Exploration below.


PhD Career Navigator            



ImaginePhD is a free online career exploration and planning tool for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences. PhDs in other disciplines can also use this tool. Imagine PhD users are able to:

    • assess their career-related skills, interests, and values
    • explore 16 job families
    • access and save links to  extensive information about the job families all in one  convenient place
    • identify skills gaps related to different career paths of interest
    • map out next steps for career and professional develoment success.

Versatile PhD            

(VPhD) is a free online tool to which UMD has subscribed. As a UMD graduate student or postdoctoral scholar, you have access to premium content on the VPhD website free of charge. Once you create your free login using the link above, you will have access to key features such as:

    • Options for Sucess - a six module career course developed just for PhDs by Dr. Fatimah Williams at Beyond the Tenure Track. Options for Success is a career exploration and professional development program that is designed to help graduate students and postdoctoral scholars identify viable career paths, understand the link between their degrees and the professional world, and confidently manage the transition from university to high-quality professional placement.
    • Career Finder: An exploration tool in which you read the stories of PhDs successfully employed in academia. This is a great way to see how PhDs navigated the career exploration and job search processes. Each bio includes the person's  narrative, advice, job posting and the resume and/or CV used to obtain the position.
    • Current Job Postings
    • Blog feature which allows you to dialogue with VPhD community members in and outside of academia
    • A supportive web-based community of nearly 70,000 members that you can search and email with questions and for information interviews


MyIDP (Individual Development Plan) is an online career-planning tool created to help graduate students and postdocs in the sciences define and pursue their career goals. MyIDP will help you identify the career goals that are right for you and develop a step-by-step plan to reach those goals. MyIDP is a four-step process which includes:

  • Exercises to help you examine your skills, interests and values
  • A list of 20 scientific career paths with a prediction of which ones best fit your skills and interests
  • A tool for setting strategic goals for the coming year, with optional reminders to keep you on track
  • Articles and resources to guide you through the process