So I'm in the final year of my PhD and will need to find a job soon. I don't feel strongly either way about whether I'll stay in physics or leave it for a "normal" job, but I've been browsing around looking for postdoc positions recently. I've seen places advertising for applications comprised of a CV and a research proposal. This is not something I had to do when I was a fresh university graduate looking for a PhD - there was already well-defined work that needed doing for a large experiment and it sounded alright so I went for it. My PhD project was not my idea. However, the calls for applications that I've seen just state the vague field of the research going on at the institute. To be frank I have no idea about anything specific I want to work on - the impression I've got from staff at my university is that in this modern age, beggars can't be choosers and I should expect to have to turn my hand to whatever work comes along. So, I've just been focused on getting the data I need. Whilst I've attended the odd seminar, I do not have in-depth knowledge of any experiment except the one I've worked on. I feel like coming up with something to do could be a massive undertaking, requiring a huge literature search, and I don't have the time to fit that in. Is this a common situation for PhD students to find themselves in? Is this my fault, should I have known better and been thinking about this since the day I started my PhD? Or is it my university's fault for not warning me about this?