Think “Skill” not “D.Phil”

For researchers thinking of changing career direction, don’t obsess about your qualifications and specific subject knowledge. You have developed a whole wealth of skills from your research which you can translate into the language of new career areas. Employers want to know you have the right attitude, committment and potential to succeed in their organisation. The kinds of skills they look for are invariably quite similar. Depending on the specifications of the job, steer away from absolutes, such as the subject of your PhD, which may not be of interest to the employer. Instead, think transferables, e.g. your initiative, self-motivation, critical thinking.

For example, this table lists the types of activities you may carry out as a researcher which would demonstrate evidence of the skills required for a university project management role:

Job requirements
Convey information clearly and accurately
  • Generate complex datasets derived from multiple experiments which require clear and accurate communication.
  • Able to select appropriate modes of delivery using charts, tables and graphical diagrams. Regularly produce short reports and disseminate results to my research group.
  • Have presented papers and posters at national and international conferences.
Develop networks and contacts
  • Use social media and networks extensively in order to share experiences, information and latest developments with other researchers.   
  • Member of Linkedin groups to which I regularly contribute.
  • Network face-to-face at meetings and conferences which have yielded many new contacts and led to a new collaboration.
  • Member of the department’s postdoctoral association which involves attending events and networking with other staff in the Faculty.
Project management
  • Project manage the planning and implementation of my current research project following on from my PhD.
  • Able to prioritise tasks balancing experimental work with data analysis and communication.
  • Assist in the coordination of our research collaboration which comprises two departmental partners and researchers in three European countries.       
  • Highly self-motivated and always meet deadlines on time or ahead of time.
Working with others
  • Work in a small research group day-to-day and collaborate with colleagues of different disciplines within my research project to coordinate activities and share data.
  • Regularly in contact by email with European and industrial partners.
  • Supervise and manage the work of final year students in the lab.  

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