How to “sell” your dissertation to an employer

It is likely your longest piece of academic work. It is the spearhead of your academic arsenal. But does it really matter? Can a good dissertation make a real difference? Of course it can! And that’s why we’re here; to tell you all about how you can dazzle potential employers with the final effort of your academic career, the dissertation.

The task is clear; your job is to convince the employer that you have the necessary abilities to perform well in the job of your dreams. The recruiter will then decide whether you have what it takes or not by measuring your skills and attributes against a list of competencies. If you “sell” your dissertation just right, it might give you that extra edge.

It’s all about understanding your skill set! It really is! So don’t ever underestimate the versatility of your skills.

It’s also about understanding what the employer is looking for.  How might the skills you have developed while researching, planning, and writing your dissertation match the skills, attributes, and competencies the employer is looking for? Does the job require certain skills you have developed, such as research and project management skills? Is your dissertation topic relevant to the area of work you’re trying to get into? The key thing is that you understand (and are able to present to an employer) the skills you’ve gained while writing your dissertation, and recognise how those skills can be used in the role you’re applying for. 

To identify your own skill set, you might want to go over your dissertation module outline, or simply create a list of the tasks associated with your dissertation project. What were your achievements? What skills did you learn? What skills did you develop further? Translate these tasks into skills. For example: 

Task: Quickly reading literature to find the critical point 

might translate into

Skill: Quick decision making of information

Once you understand what those skills are and how they might help you in a new area of work, you can write up examples using the STAR approach. It is vital that you sell your experience in a way that is customised to each individual role you are applying for. 

In the end it will depend on your dissertation project. Not everyone will develop the same skills when researching and writing their dissertation, so it’s down to you to figure out what those skills are and how they relate to the employer and the job you’re applying for. Find out more about how to demonstrate your skills and competencies in your applications and interviews on the King’s Career Kit.