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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Idea Factory

Idea Factory is King’s College London’s flagship idea generation competition. It aims to discover the biggest and best ideas from across the university that have the potential to grow into ventures.

Idea Factory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a chance to develop your skills and win amazing prizes.

Whatever your interest or passion, we want you to get creative and submit your ideas for new innovations, products or services.

Entry is open to King’s students, staff and alumni (of up to three years) across all faculties and departments.

The competition is now open until Monday, 16 January 2017.

For full details, visit the King’s Idea Factory website

 

Research Consultant Internship Position

The Association for the British Pharmaceutical Industry are seeking a Research Consultant to work within their Research, Medical and Innovation Department. Work to be carried out will include:

  • Analysing survey results
  • Considering evidence from other recent surveys in comparison with these findings
  • Identifying the major concerns
  • Reviewing current activity by Research Councils, Science Industry Partnership, other funders of education and training (such as Wellcome Trust) and other stakeholders to identify how well these concerns are currently being addressed
  • Considering additional activity which could be considered, for discussion with stakeholders
  • Organising stakeholder event
  • Drafting a report of the findings and recommendations

For more details and to apply, please click here. Closing deadline is 11th March.

 

Careers in Management Consultancy … notes from the Career Spotlight 28 January  

Contributed by Laura Mackenzie, Head of King’s Careers & Employability

Last Wednesday saw the latest in our series of Career Spotlight events for research students. The focus was on management consultancy and the following speakers attended to talk about their transition from a PhD to consulting roles:

  • Lauren Carter, Pete Colman and Sophie Decelle – Simon-Kucher & Partners
  • Fahd Choudhry – Deloitte
  • Nathan Cope – PA Consulting

So what does the work entail?  

Pete Colman started by talking about the work of Simon Kucher and Partners, a specialist strategy consultancy which he described as ‘entrepreneurial and partner owned’ and operating across the globe (currently 760 employees in 29 offices worldwide). Specialisms include strategy, pricing, sales and marketing, with an extensive client list ranging across sectors. Pete talked through some example projects around pricing power including:

  • Analysis of consumer travel data to find the optimum price for a travelcard offering discounts to the traveller whilst ensuring profit for the operator
  • Determining the market price for a branded pharmaceutical treatment

Next up was Nathan from PA Consulting. Larger than Simon Kucher, PA employs 2,500 people globally and operates across 10 different practice areas, with a wider consulting brief. Nathan is based in the life sciences and healthcare practice which focuses on the commercial aspects of the pharma industry.

Examples of recent PA projects across all areas:

  • delivering an air-traffic system to safely handle 600,000 aeroplanes over Denmark each year
  • working with the Bank of England to create the Prudential Regulation Authority, which will transform financial regulation in the UK
  • developing a system to restore power more quickly and improve the customer experience for households and businesses in Washington, US

The range of sector-based practice areas means specialisation is possible, and the company does offer opportunities for those interested in R&D or using their technical skills.

Finally, Fahd spoke about his experiences working with Deloitte. His projects to date have focused on the financial services sector and included:

  • the implementation of a major IT system for a global retail and investment bank
  • the integration of processes across two large companies following a merger
  • the introduction of a new trading platform for a large investment bank .

‘Consulting is basically a people business’ – what are the core skills required?

Pete Colman described consulting as a people business which is mostly about influencing and persuading; whilst Nathan summarised the two key traits needed to be a successful consultant as a deep knowledge and interest in your subject area and the ability to build and sustain relationships. Lauren highlighted the differences between going into a company as a consultant where your colleagues are the delivery team, and going in to project manage an in-house team who may have a very different working style to your own. Echoing these themes Fahd highlighted that good consultants need to be able to:

  • communicate across technical and non-technical areas to ensure all stakeholders are engaged
  • distil complex information and convey it clearly to the client
  • work with a range of different personalities
  • adapt to change
  • gain credibility in a new sector or subject area quickly

Making the transition – how to get into consultancy

Recognising an interest in the broader, business elements of your research work seemed to be a common starting point, followed by exposure to the role through internships or networking. Nathan did an internship with a drug discovery company towards the end of his PhD where he was part of the group responsible for deciding on potential R&D projects to invest in. He enjoyed the business focus, the opportunities provided for analysing data and problem solving to achieve tangible results and the fact the role involved working with people much more than he had been used to in the lab.

Networking is important as is approaching firms directly since some consulting firms offer structured internship programmes but many will take interns on an ad hoc basis without advertising. Fahd had already gained industry experience in pharma before his PhD and decided that consulting would be a good next step to utilise his knowledge and experience. He expected to work across the life sciences sector but instead has spent the last few years working across banking and financial services.

Entry points for PhD graduates or post-docs vary depending on the type of firm, its training and development programmes and the level of experience of the researcher. Fahd highlighted the challenge of starting on a graduate development programme alongside first degree graduates; but also the value of receiving structured training and building a network of colleagues at the start of your career.

How to decide which firm

Some of the themes that emerged from the presentations included:

  • Specialist vs general : – what sort of projects do you want to work on and how specialist do you want to become?
  • Size of firm and growth projection: check out the size of the company, how it has grown in the last couple of years and where it’s development areas seem to be
  • How technical: if you want to continue to use some of the technical knowledge from your research then you might have to look harder for the right kind of consultancy.
  • Level of entry: whilst starting with recent graduates might not seem appealing, consider the training on offer from the firm and the opportunities a structured programme might offer for networking and skills development at a fast pace

 ‘Having a PhD won’t make you stand out’

All of the speakers emphasised that consulting firms will be used to receiving quality applications from well qualified graduates so having a PhD in itself will not be a differentiator. However, the speakers had experienced rapid progression following entry which they attributed to the skills developed from their PhD  – the most prominent of which were:

  • project management
  • presentation skills
  • logical approach to problem solving
  • the ability to convey complex information in a clear way

In addition the resilience often needed to complete a PhD was recognised, which is a huge advantage in a client-driven industry where change is the norm, and the credibility factor of being a PhD graduate when working with clients.

Don’t assume the PhD will sell itself was the key advice. The importance of demonstrating on CVs and applications the specific skills and experiences you have to offer was stressed, as well as being able to evidence genuine interest in business and the way in which organisations work. Nathan highlighted the value of demonstrating project management and leadership skills outside the PhD project whether through internships, volunteering or involvement in student-led activities on campus.

Interested in finding out more?

Good for introductions to the landscape and key players:

Details of the firms represented: