I’m thrilled to be able to offer concrete help with your post phD job search with the launch of our new version of PostAc, now with a live job feed.

What is PostAc?

PostAc® uses artificial intelligence to help you find jobs and employers outside academia that need your amazing research skills.

80% of employers who post a research oriented job do not put ‘PhD’ in their ad, so the job market for research graduates is largely hidden.

Our machine learning natural language processing algorithm was trained on a large data set to spot these ‘nerdy jobs’. Search for jobs you can apply for today, or use our archive to help you prepare for the job market outside academia.

Read the PostAc User Manual to see how the product works and some tips for job searching

How can I access PostAc?

PostAc is not open access: currently you can only use if for job searching if your university has a subscription. People at subscribing universities can go to postac.com.au to make an account with their university email address.

Check out the FAQ at the end of this page for more details.

If you would like your university to purchase the product, you can direct people to our Product Brochure for university purchasers.

What to see the power of our machine learning technology? Download our latest job market report here: Covid impact report: 24 Months In

If you are a student and would like your university to get PostAc, you can express your interest here and we will let them know!

If you would like to explore purchasing the product for your university, please email inger.mewburn@anu.edu.au to discuss the release timeline for our products and subscription options.

I offer a free lecture about the state of the job market using PostAc findings. Please email inger.mewburn@anu.edu.au to set up a time. You can see the materials and staging details for the free lecture here.

The postac team

The PostAc team is a multi-disciplinary team from ANU with strengths in research education, sociology, machine learning and business development.

In the above photo (inside @thesiswhisperer’s  office), from left to right is the current PostAc team: Dr Will Grant, Dr Lindsay Hogan, Assoc Prof Hanna Suominen, Prof Inger Mewburn (@thesiswhisperer), Chirath Hettiarachchi, Chenchen Xu and Ran Cui.

We’d like to acknowledge the foundational work of Dr Rachel Pitt from University of Queensland, who first had the idea of looking at job ads, and the assistance of Burning Glass Technologies, who have generously supplied data that has made the continuation of this project possible over a number of years.

Here’s a list of our jointly published work on Post PhD employability:

Pitt, R. & Mewburn, I. (2016) Academic superheroes? A critical analysis of academic job descriptions, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 38(1), 88 – 101.

Mewburn, I., Grant, W., Suominen, H. & Kizimchuk, S. (2018) A machine learning analysis of the non- academic employment opportunities for Ph.D Graduates in Australia, Higher Education Policy.

Xu, C., Mewburn, I., Grant, W. J., & Suominen, H. (2019). PostAc®: A visual interactive search, exploration, and analysis platform for PhD intensive job postings. In: Proceedings of the The 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics  (ACL). Stroudsburg, PA, USA: ACL. https://www.aclweb.org/anthology/P19-3008/

Mewburn, I, Grant, W and Souminen, H (2016) Tracking Trends in industry demand for Australia’s advanced research workforce, Department of Industry, Canberra, Australia.

Mewburn, I, Souminen, H and Grant, W (2020) Matching PhD graduates with industry jobs, Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, ANU, Canberra.

What are people saying about PostAc?

  • “Eye opening!” (Biology PhD)
  • “This is an amazing job search site!” (Biology PhD)
  • “A fresh vision about our job choices” (Sociology PhD)
  • “Gives me a lot of hope I will be successful in the future” (Astrophysics PhD)
  • “There are a lot of possibilities out there and there are concrete steps and strategies we can use to get where we want to be” (Chemistry PhD)
  • “I know the skills I need to develop to get a non-academic job” (Biology PhD)
  • “Love PostAc! a positive approach to non-academic jobs” (Sociology PhD)
  • “Great to have actual data about the job market” (Sociology PhD)
  • “Built my confidence to find jobs outside academia” (Physics PhD)
  • “Now I know what is beyond academia!” (Sociology PhD)
  • “Loved spending time on PostAc exploring possibilities” (Sociology PhD)
  • “Looking for a job outside Academia feels validated now” (Chemistry PhD)
  • “Confirmed in my mind that there ARE jobs outside of academia – which I am relieved about” (Chemistry PhD)
  • “Very useful! Can’t wait to explore it more” (Biology PhD)
  • Very useful to identify the pros and cons of various non-academic jobs” (Biology PhD)

In the video below, three of our founders describe our motivations for designing PostAc and our ambitions for the product:

PostAc FAQ

What is the nerdiness scale?! 

The machine learning / natural language processing built into PostAc® ranks jobs based on how many research skills and capabilities are inside the job ad. PostAc® sorts millions of jobs at a time on a scale from zero (no research skills) to ten (super nerdy). PostAc® only shows jobs that rank above a 7. We think these jobs are suitable for Masters degree students, with jobs ranking above requiring more high level skills, common to PhD graduates.  

How do I use PostAc®? 

Users can type anything into the search box – we’ve built it to deal with the weird and wonderful search terms that researchers have in their work. PostAc® will come back with job suggestions, ranked by ‘nerdiness’. Users can read the job ads, review the skills, see similar jobs and send the job to their careers advisor. Searches can be saved and adjusted by location, pay range and Nerdiness. 

What sort of jobs can I see on PostAc®? 

PostAc® shows you research-intensive jobs: job ads that ask for people with analytical skills, attention to detail and expert knowledge. Research intensive jobs are like needles in a haystack, representing only 0.05% of the job market in any given year. We show you the job ad text, highlighting the skill sets needed for the job. 

How do you find the research-intensive jobs you show on PostAc®? 

Our PostAc® algorithm filters a live job ad feed from EMSI/Burning Glass so that only research-intensive jobs are visible the PostAc® platform. We find the small number of research intensive jobs easier by using machine learning and natural language processing technology developed at The Australian National University.  

Where are the jobs in PostAc® located? 

Currently, PostAc® shows you jobs located in Australia and New Zealand. We are currently developing PostAc® UK, with jobs in the United Kingdom. We plan to have these jobs added by the end of the year. Universities who purchase in 2022 will get automatic access to PostAc® UK when it becomes available.  

Who is PostAc® for? 

PostAc® helps researchers at all stages find research intensive jobs outside academia. The jobs you see when you search PostAc® are suitable for research degree students (PhD and Masters) as well as coursework Masters degree students who have developed their research and analysis skills. PostAc® can even help early career academics in precarious careers who are looking to leave academia and assist researchers already in industry to further their careers. 

What is the value of PostAc® to my university? 

Increasingly, the federal government is interested in the employability of university graduates, so tools to enhance graduate employability and career skills have obvious utility. However, in the PhD cohort the problem of post PhD employment is severe. Stories abound that the PhD is a ‘road to nowhere’ because academic employment is now so precarious. Participation is dropping, which affects our research capacity. PostAc® can help at all stages of the PhD pipeline, from recruitment to graduate satisfaction. 

But my PhD graduates seem to find jobs – why do they need PostAc®? 

It’s true that post PhD employment rates look ok – this is because we don’t know much about the employment prospects of PhD graduates. The only national survey shows us a snap shot 6 months after completion. Longer term data suggestions that many PhD graduates experience precarious post-degree careers and struggle to find work where the skills they spent years developing can be used.  

How can PostAc® increase PhD student satisfaction? 

PhD students are often anxious about their job prospects and this can really affect persistence and motivation. The PostAc® platform and associated training increases student confidence in the value of their degree and their self-efficacy, with flow on effects to retention.  In addition to research degree students and graduates, PostAc® is also a great way to connect with, and continuously add value to, your alumni cohort by offering them a fit for purpose job searching platform. 

How do I find out if my university has PostAc already?

We liaise with graduate schools and careers centres when we service a PostAc® subscription. We recommend you get in touch with your Dean of Graduate Research or similar in the first instance. We do offer PostAc® to other research organisations, such as Centres of Excellence and CRCs – please contact your centre administator. 

How does a PostAc® subscription work? 

We offer yearly subscriptions based on the size of your research degree cohort plus 10% of your Masters by coursework cohort. We use these numbers to estimate the cost of server time and  

When a university buys PostAc, they enter into a software as a service agreement with The Australian National University, who own the PostAc technology. The PostAc team then turns on a list of email domains that are linked to your university. Anyone from your university can then make an account. 

We do not put restrictions on the numbers of users from your university who can access PostAc. Anyone who has a university email address can make an individual account on the product, including your alumni.  

Can I buy an individual subscription to PostAc®? 

No, we only sell PostAc® as a subscription package to universities or research organisations under a Software as a Service (SasS) agreement.  

How does my university initiate a PostAc® purchase? 

Please contact us on postac@anu.edu.au for a demonstration and/or a quote. We do need to have a Software as a Service (SaaS) agreement in place first though, which you will probably have to run via your legal department. This can take several weeks. Payment is by bank transfer.  

When can a subscription start? 

You can purchase PostAc® at any time. Turning on PostAc® is simple and can be done with 24 hours notice once an invoice is paid. You can pay in advance of a launch date – your subscription time starts when the domain is turned on.  

What information do I need to provide to get the subscription started? 

All we need from you is a list of email domains that you want to have access to the product. Universities sometimes have multiple domains for students, staff and alumni. We an add as many domains from your university as you like. Research organisations who do not have specific domains can provide us with subscribers in a spreadsheet. 

How much does PostAc® cost? 

PostAc® is available on a tiered purchasing model based on the size of the cohort we predict will use it most: research degree students with a 10% loading applied based on the size of your coursework Masters degree cohort. 

$18,000 p/a for universities with up to 700 research degree candidates* 

$26,000 p/a for universities with between 700 and 2000 research degree candidates 

$35,000 p/a for universities with more than 2000 research degree candidates. 

All subscriptions come with an engagement package, including training for your students, supervisors and career counsellors. 

*if your university has a very small cohort, or you are inquiring on behalf of a Centre of Excellence or CRC, please get in touch with us for a quote. 

How long does a subscription last? 

We can offer single or multi-year subscription packages, depending on your need. The maximum number of years we can offer is three. Payment is always in advance.  

How do you recommend we deploy PostAc® at our university? 

Students can access it throughout their degree to research their career options and, when they finish, to find a job where they can use their research skills. While the platform connects graduates with job ads, it also helps them find out who is hiring and what jobs are called, so they can design a networking strategy to help them find work.  

Research degree supervisors can access it to advise prospective students on what the career options might be for them outside academia. Careers services can use PostAc to help students identify jobs and support them to prepare cover letters and CVs. Early career researchers who wish to leave academia can use PostAc to find jobs in industry. 

Do you offer training? 

A PostAc subscription is bundled with a range of workshops and opportunities for your students. When you buy a subscription, we come in and do a public presentation to raise awareness in your community about the product.  

Does PostAc release their research findings to the public?® 

We are a research driven team and continuously monitor the job market with our PostAc® algorithm. Twice a year we run a public report, which can be accessed via The Thesis Whisperer, which is accompanied by a public online lecture. 

We can deliver this lecture to non-subscribing universities at no cost. Please contact inger.mewburn@anu.edu.au to arrange a session.  

What other services does PostAc® offer? 

 

We have the ability to generate a range of data insights for universities who are doing strategy or curriculum development work. The exact form this would take depends on your needs and goals.  

For instance, we have completed consulting for universities looking to redesign their PhD curriculum to help PhD graduates become more employable in non-academic settings. We can show you what kind of jobs your graduates might have access to, based on your own discipline mix and what these employers are looking for when they hire a researcher. This information has been used at ANU, for example, to improve non-academic career literacy in our candidates.   

Universities can also use our data insight services for lead generation. Current government settings around the PhD are designed to encourage candidates to do industry internships early in their candidature. We can show you who the employers with an interest in hiring researchers in your local area, so you have the opportunity to build relationships. These relationships could lead to student placements and research collaborations.   

What is the relationship between The Thesis Whisperer blog and PostAc® 

Thesiswhisperer.com has been offering advice to early career researchers on the internet since 2010 and is one of the most trusted sources of advice on research education in the world. Professor Inger Mewburn (@thesiswhisperer on Twitter) is the creator and editor of the Thesiswhisperer and one of the PostAc® creators, along with Associate Professor Hanna Suominen and Associate Professor Will Grant. PostAc® has a presence on the Thesis Whisperer as a way to share our research findings directly with research candidates.  

Who is the team behind PostAc® 

We are a multi-disciplinary team of researchers in machine learning natural language processing and science communications at The Australian National University.  

Have more questions?  

Email us on postac@anu.edu.au and a member of the team will get back to you. 

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