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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Navigate your career prospects at the UNICA-Coimbra Group workshop for doctoral candidates

The 2nd UNICA-Coimbra Group international training workshop on career preparation for doctoral candidates will be hosted by the Centre for Advanced Academic Studies of the University of Zagreb in Dubrovnik, 15-18 October 2017.

Deadline for applications has been extended to Friday, 16 June.

The 3 ½ day programme will include presentations from keynote speakers, training sessions aimed at improving specific competences, debates and space for self-assessment and reflection on employability prospects and on the soft, transversal skills needed to respond to a global setting in constant change.

The workshop will bring together doctoral candidates from universities across Europe in a highly international and multicultural setting, which will allow them to meet peers who may have had a very different experience.

Participants will have the opportunity to step back and reflect, in a structured and guided manner, on the broad skills they have gained during their doctoral studies and that are key in the ever-dynamic global employment market.

In order to ensure a well-balanced geographical spread of participants, we invite each University to nominate maximum 2 doctoral students to take part in the training. The following items should be provided by 16 June 2017 to marta.wasowska@unica-network.eu.

  • A letter of endorsement, signed by the Rector/President or Vice-Rector/Vice-President of the University. The letter should indicate the contact details of the nominated doctoral student (name, surname, e-mail, phone number);
  • The candidate’s CV and statement of interest.

For further information about the workshop or about the application process, please contact marta.wasowska@unica-network.eu.

The fee for the participation in the training is €550 and includes: accommodation (4 nights) at the CAAS Residence, meals (breakfasts, coffee breaks, lunches, 2 dinners) and the participation in the social programme.

For more events like this and advice on your future after the PhD, go to the King’s Do1Thing website. 

Follow the Graduate School on Twitter @KCLGradSchool for the latest updates on events and opportunities for PhD students at King’s. 

Kings Internships

Considering part-time work alongside your degree? Wanting to develop new skills through a paid internship?

Many students chose to engage in part-time work to help fund their studies or to gain skills to help with employability. Knowing this we thought we would share some opportunities which are available exclusively to KCL students!

Finding & Applying to Opportunities

New opportunities will be posted on King’s CareerConnect, over the next few months. Please note that if you are interested in applying for the Summer Scheme vacancies, you must first locate the ‘Exclusive Internships for King’s Students’ tab, and click ‘Search and apply’.  You can also find the Kings Internship Team on Facebook. They regularly post alerts to all new vacancies on their Facebook page so why not like their page so you don’t miss an opportunity!

For a flavour of what schemes you could be applying for, please see the list of opportunities currently being advertised below;

Part Time Schemes

Deadline  Opportunity title Deadline  Company
26-Mar-17 Research Interns Solvency ii Wire
29-Mar-17 General Admin Intern Bahati Books
29-Mar-17 Marketing Intern Bahati Books
31-Mar-17 E-Learning Content Production Interns TechQuarters
13-Apr-17 Business Engagement Intern Bisi Alimi Foundation
13-Apr-17 Communication and Research Intern Bisi Alimi Foundation
13-Apr-17 Fellowship Coordinator Intern Bisi Alimi Foundation

Summer Schemes

Deadline  Opportunity title Company
27-Mar-17 PR, Marketing & Social Media Intern LID Helmets
29-Mar-17 Scientific Product Stewardship Intern Cuts Ice Ltd
29-Mar-17 Packaging Design Intern Cuts Ice Ltd
01-Apr-17 Data Science Intern Printastic
02-Apr-17 Health Project Manager / Account Executive Intern Partizan international Limited
03-Apr-17 In-House Nutrition Consultant Intern Kafoodle
03-Apr-17 Marketing and Social Media Intern Kafoodle
06-Apr-17 Business Project Intern Celgene
06-Apr-17 Business Intern Stadn Ltd
07-Apr-17 Data Analytics Intern Prudential Plc
07-Apr-17 Healthcare Programmes and Communications Intern Four Health Communications
08-Apr-17 Scientific Summer Analyst/Consultant Intern Biolacuna Ltd.
09-Apr-17 DevOps Infrastructure Engineer Intern LiveWyer Ltd
13-Apr-17 Psychology Intern Spoonful of Sugar
15-Apr-17 Marketing Intern WeAreWaterloo Business Improvement District (BID)

 

If you have questions or would like to meet the Internship Team why not go along to meet them! Here are the details of where and when you can find them:

 Date  Time  Campus  Precise Location
Thursday 23rd March 11am – 2pm Strand Second Floor, Corridor outside Chapters Cafe
 Thursday 2nd May 11am – 2pm  Waterloo FWB, Level 1, Alcove outside library
Wednesday 3rd May  11am – 2pm  Guy’s Ground Floor, New Hunt’s House
Friday 5th May  11am – 2pm  Strand (Maughan) Entrance to the Maughan library

Finding a job in life sciences

The prospect of securing a job in industry can seem daunting. The process can be nuanced and non-linear, full of barriers and setbacks. Before embarking upon the journey, be prepared for some rejection and try to accept that it might take some time!

Over the last eight years, I have watched a considerable number of researchers secure roles in industry. Here are some tips, based on my observations.

 Explore all industry sectors and roles

Look at the range of functions and roles within pharmaceuticals, biotechnology companies and contract research organisations. See below for a list of organisations:

Research and development is the typical area that attracts PhDs and postdocs; within this falls drug discovery, preclinical, clinical research and process development. Drug discovery and preclinical research jobs are typical jobs for PhDs and postdocs; job titles within this area usually contain the word ‘scientist.’

Other roles include business development managers, regulatory affairs specialists, medical scientific liaison (MSL) specialists, medical writers and life science consultants/analysts. Search for roles using a variety of terms and then read the job descriptions to see if you fulfil the criteria.

 Let everyone know that you are looking for work

It is easy to keep talking to other PhD students, postdocs and academics about job opportunities but this is not going to work if you want to find a job in industry! It is vital, and common practice, to let people outside your network know you are looking for a job.

Sign up to two or three specialist recruitment companies and go in with your eyes open! Many life science companies use recruiters, especially if they want to advertise roles without people knowing they are recruiting/relocating staff. Use the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) members list to find reputable companies. The University of Kent also has a list of science recruitment agencies on their website.

Set up a LinkedIn account and write your profile in a way that will attract industry professionals and recruiters. Emphasise your area of expertise, your research techniques and soft skills such as time management and leadership skills. Illustrate your skills with evidence such as supervising undergraduates or PhD students if you are demonstrating leadership.

Know what is happening in the pharmaceutical and biotech sector

It is easier to have conversations with people if you know what’s happening in their sector. It provides you with topics of conversation and demonstrates that you are serious about making a transition into industry. Start developing what employers refer to as commercial awareness. Look at industry blogs such as The Guardian’s Pharmaceuticals Industry or the the BBSRC’s Business Magazine to stay informed about ‘all things industry.’  You can also follow relevant Twitter feeds such as @BiotechNews and @Biotechnology. Deloitte also recently published a comprehensive article on the life science industry called 2016 Global Life Sciences Outlook. Worth a read before talking to industry people.

 Meet people from industry

It is crucial to get out and meet people from the sectors in which you would like to work. This can be an overwhelming thought for ‘more introverted’ scientists. Try to develop a curious outlook, asking intelligent questions and finding out about people’s work. Approach networking in the way you approach science, making your research topic people and their careers! Be curious, listen and think about how your work and experience might fit with the work that people are doing. When you first start networking, try not to feel the pressure of trying to impress – listening and being curious can go a long way.

One way to begin networking is to set up some information interviews. This is a one-to-one meeting with someone who has a role or career in which you are interested. It’s a chance for you to ask questions, gather information, learn about job options and career paths, and ask people for help to identify opportunities in their fields. Start off by approaching ‘warm’ contacts i.e. people that you know first or second hand or people you have something in common with such as PhD/postdoc alumni from Kings. Look at the LinkedIn pages of postdocs in your group to see if they know people that have moved into industry or ask your supervisor for their contacts, if appropriate. Then approach contacts on LinkedIn or by email and ask for 15 minutes of their time to have a chat about their role and company. Book an appointment with the PhD/postdoc Careers Consultant if you need some support with this as it can be tricky if you have not used this approach before.

Look out for events that may bring you into contact with potential employers e.g. One Nucleus and OBN host various seminars, events and training for people working in the life science sector. FirstMedCommsJob.com also run networking events for people wanting to work in medical communications. YES (Young Entrepreneurs Scheme) competitions, in a range of disciplines, can give you the opportunity to gain business mentoring, meet industry experts and develop commercial awareness.

Dr. Tracy Bussoli, Freelance Careers Consultant