You have transferable skills, you just don’t know it!

In 2016, Vitae carried out a study called What Do Research Staff Do Next?. The study explored the views and opinions of 856 research staff that had moved away from academic research into a range of other careers. As well as identifying the careers the participants had moved into, it looked at reasons why changing jobs and sectors were challenging. The reasons researchers gave included, identifying transferable competencies and persuading employers of them, choosing what to do instead and difficulties finding new employment i.e. how to job hunt.

This blog will provide research staff with some tips and advice on identifying transferable competencies and persuading employers of them. To begin with, here are a few facts from the Vitae WDRSDN survey which illustrates that researchers possess a range of transferable skills that are useful beyond academic research:

  • 90% of people working in roles beyond academic research said they draw on capabilities and skills gained as a researcher either some or most of the time.
  • 75% said that communication skills were the most important competency.
  • > 50% said independent working, project management and problem solving were the most important competencies for success in their current role.

That is all well and good but how do you identify the skills and strengths that you have developed as a researcher and how do you write about these on a CV in way that will convince employers? Here is one way to do it:

  1. Start to explore a range of jobs beyond academic research on arrange of websites such as indeed, career jet, simply hired and CV library. Use a variety of search terms e.g. scientist, researcher, writer etc.
  2. Look at the job descriptions for the types of roles that interest you and begin to collate the names of skills that keep appearing. List both technical skills and soft skills such as relationship building, problem solving etc.
  3. Start to compile a table of skills which can be used in your CV at a later stage. Name the skill in the first column and then in column two provide evidence of the skill. Ask yourself the question ‘How do I use this skill in my current role as a researcher?’ Collect examples for a range of skills as you explore various job descriptions. The example below shows you how to do this.
  4. When it comes to writing your CV, you can then insert relevant skills for each job you apply for. Remember that you should only include skills and evidence for those listed in the job description. Anything more is noise and makes it more difficult for the recruiter to retrieve what they need.

Here is an example of how to describe a skill in your CV. Let’s say you are looking at a job description that is for a science policy role, where you will be representing the organisation to a range of stakeholders such as academics, and funders. The job description asks for effective communication skills.

Postdoctoral Research Associate                                                                                                      June 2015 – July 2017

The Watson Laboratory, Kings College London.

Research on the solution structure of a bacterial toxin inhibitor protein; study its interaction with a non-cognate bacterial toxin.

Communication Skills

  • Participate in weekly group meetings, explaining and updating the team on my research findings, often suggesting innovative ideas and approaches.
  • Have presented my research at six scientific conferences including a significant talk at the American Society of Human Genetics in the US, attended by 1000 delegates.

You can use the same approach for other skills e.g. problem solving, teamwork etc. A CV for a job outside academia should not be more than two pages long. You can think about addressing two or three of the key skills in each section of your CV. Present more evidence for the most important skills for the role.

If you need more CV support, you can book an appointment with the specialist advisor for research staff here as well as well as accessing CV examples from Vitae, here.

Many thanks to Dr. Tracy Bussoli for this guest blog. Find Tracy on Linked In or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Careers for Arts and Humanities PhDs and Researchers – a speed meet, CV check and seminar, 23rd June, Great Hall, Strand Campus, 1 to 4.

Arts and Humanities researchers often find it hard to work out the value of their discipline for their careers and how best to present their unique skills and knowledge to potential employers inside and outside academia.

Attend this event to find some solutions to these knotty problems!

The afternoon will consist of:

1.00 to 1.40 – Keynote speaker from an Arts and Humanities background

1.30 to 3.30 – Have your CV checked by one of our professional specialist researcher careers consultants (Donald Lush, from King’s and Catherine Reynolds from LSE) in a 15 minute appointment (sign up when you arrive)

2.00 to 3.30 – Alongside the CV checks we’re running a speed meet. Spend 15 minutes meeting one of our invited guests and hearing their personal career stories. Our guests include Victoria Moul of King’s College London, who is an arts and humanities researcher and Camilla Darling who is an academic administrator at King’s.

3.30 to 4.00 – the afternoon will finish with a career planning presentation from our specialist PhD careers consultant, Donald Lush

We’re still confirming some speakers, so please check back as they will be added when finalised.

You’ll need to book – the link is here.

How to get a tenure track job in the USA

On 15th of May, Dr. Karen Kelsky from The Professor Is In spoke to KCL PhD students and researchers about  academic careers in the USA. She kept a packed lecture theatre engrossed with her tips and wisdom for over 90 minutes and didn’t pull her punches on some of the trickier aspects.

Our colleagues at UCL Research Careers have written a blog post summarising her talk which is well worth reading if you are applying for academic jobs in America.  Follow this link to read it.

Spotlight Series: Science Beyond Academia Nora McFadden – Science Procurement Manager, The Crick Institute

Nora’s career in science started with her undergraduate degree in medical microbiology at Warwick which she followed by jumping straight to a PhD at Imperial College.

After working as a post-doc she realised that she didn’t want to be a PI and couldn’t see a future for herself in lab-based academic research.

She moved initially to lab management at CRUK as the Crick was being developed and it was made clear to her that progression within her role would be possible. She became involved in procurement for the Institute as it was being built and works there currently, managing the purchasing of supplies and equipment for a large and complex institution.

Nora emphasises that science background is essential as she needs to understand the scientific context in order to effectively provide equipment and supplies as well as communicate effectively with researchers.

Her work is varied and requires very close attention to detail with lots of opportunity for project management. The skills of a researcher in managing, communicating and understanding data, problem solving, analysis, time management and being flexible and adaptable all come frequently into play. There are frequent opportunities to interact with the research the researchers and this kind of role can be great for those who don’t want to lose touch with science but do want to try a different profession.

The environment is often more formal than academic research. There are regular office hours and the culture is often more like that of a business than a university.

For those interested in applying for professional support roles within science, Nora recommends that you try to get some experience of and contact with people working in these roles and show your interest and willingness to get involved.

CVs and applications should be skills focussed and much less detailed than academic CVs as well as thoroughly tailored towards the role and institution you are applying for.

Free event! Hacking the US academic job market – 15th May at SOAS from 5 to 7.30

Venue:

Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Torrington Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0XG

Programme:

5 to 6 p.m: Kellee Weinhold – Interviews for academic jobs in the USA

An interactive session during which Kellee will move through standard interview questions, explaining common errors and weaknesses and providing examples of effective answers with attention to brevity, spin, word choice, tone, body language, etc.

Kellee Weinhold is a former university professor in the fields of journalism, communication, and literary non-fiction who now works as a strategic communications and academic productivity coach for the Professor is In. In addition to prepping clients for Skype, phone and campus interviews as well as job talks, Kellee coaches individuals and groups in the strategies for creating a productive work life balance.

6 p.m. to 7.30 pm: Dr Karen Kelsky, author of The Professor Is In <https://theprofessorisin.com/about-the-professor-2/>

In this 90-minute seminar I walk you through the conditions of the current American job market, the most common mistakes made by job-seekers, and the ways you can maximize your chances of success while looking for a tenure-track job.
We’ll cover:

*   The big-picture conditions of the U.S. tenure track job market
*   How to think like a search committee
*   The four core qualities of a successful tenure track job candidate
*   The all-important 5-Year Plan
*   The ethos of job market documents
*   The most common mistakes made by job seekers
*   The three keys to academic interviewing
*   The non-academic option

We also examine the pervasive intangible pitfalls that can bedevil job documents and interviewing, including narcissism, excessive humility, and hyper-emotionalism.  You’ll leave with a broad understanding of the real (as opposed to fantasy) criteria of tenure track hiring, and how to tailor your record and application materials to maximize your chances of success. Finally, I will also touch on the current political situation and outlooks for US academia.

Booking: PhD students book here. Staff – please email donald.lush@kcl.ac.uk if you would like to attend.