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Selling your skills

In an increasingly competitive global job market it is no longer enough to rely on academic credentials. For certain job roles your technical or specialist skills will be in high demand but most employers (outside academia) will be just as interested in your generic - or 'transferable' skills.

Transferable skills developed through your PhD

Verbal communication
  • formulating logical arguments
  • giving presentations/conference papers
  • leading seminars/teaching.
Written communication
  • writing articles
  • writing reports
  • producing your thesis.
  • defining a problem/identify possible causes
  • designing an experiment/plan
  • form,defend and present logical conclusions.
Managing self/others  
  • working under pressure
  • supervising others (eg undergraduates)
  • working with your supervisor.
Project management

Completing the PhD i.e.

  • managing a project from beginning to end
  • developing realistic timeframe for completion
  • delivering against agreed objectives
  • supervising undergraduate projects.
Research/information management  
  • synthesizing large quantities of information
  • designing/analysing surveys
  • evaluating/analysing data.
Interpersonal skills 
  • mentoring students and peers
  • persuasion and negotiation
  • time management
  • team work (ie inter-disciplinary projects/research group).
  • attending conferences/symposia
  • joining academic societies/professional assocations
  • establishing an online presence.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and you've probably developed other skills through work or extra curricular activities. Make sure you take time to research careers and find out which skills employers value.

How to develop your skills further

  • The Research Student Skills Programme - can help you develop academic, interpersonal and career management skills.
  • GRADschool - attend a local or a regional GRADschool.
  • Attend any relevant training offered within your department.
  • Organise a seminar series, reading group or mini conference.
  • Take on additional admin responsibilities within your department (eg Staff-Student Liaison Committee).
  • Develop your transferable skills through participation in extra-curricular activities (clubs, societies, voluntary work).