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About the transferable skills of PhDs

Do you want to apply for non-academic jobs after your PhD? Are you wondering what you can actually do besides research? In this blog, you will gain more insight into the transferable skills PhD. You will learn to name what you are good at.

Afbeelding: Scott Webb

What skills do I have?

What are your transferable skills, PhD? First of all, everyone who is applying for jobs should look for the connection between their skills and those asked for in the vacancy, so every applicant should look for transferable skills. I would recommend not focusing on the descriptions given in vacacies right away, but looking at yourself first.

To identify your own qualities and skills, it can help to brainstorm using situations you have experienced.

  • Describe a situation you are proud of.
  • What did you do? What makes you proud?

Maybe you gave a presentation or wrote a paper? Or did you take an initiative or try something out? Perhaps you helped or reassured someone? And so on.

  • Is there a second situation you are proud of for an entirely different reason?
  • What did you do? What makes you proud?

Another angle is to take stock in broad terms of what you have been doing over the past few years.

Write down:

  • What skills and qualities do you need for your research? Be as comprehensive as possible. Think about:
    • Research activities (writing, analysis, programming, etc.)
    • Social qualities (communicating, collaborating, networking etc.)
    • Organisational qualities (planning, structuring, organising, acquiring grants etc.)
    • Creative qualities (forging new paths, creating original work, writing etc.)
    • Task-oriented qualities (discipline, perseverance, independence, project-based work, goal orientation etc.)
  • What activities have you undertaken besides your research? Be as comprehensive as possible.
  • For each activity, describe which skills and qualities you used.

Are these qualities and skills transferable skills?

Maybe you find it difficult to imagine how your qualities and skills might be applicable in a different work context? Or do you feel unsure about some?

Tip #1: What can help is to conduct interviews with people in the field you want to work in. Then you will get a better idea of what the work entails and what is expected. Let the other person give examples of situations they encounter in their work. This will make it easier to make the connection yourself.

Tip #2: For the most important qualities and skills, work out a number of examples detailing how you went about applying this skill. You can use the STARR model to do this.

Applying for jobs

The STARR model is also your best friend when you want to demonstrate certain qualities in a job interview. A good example will get you a long way. Practising with the STARR model will make you feel better prepared and more likely to convince others.

Finally, have you been rejected from a job application? Ask what the reason was for the rejection. This way you can find out, for instance, whether you need to highlight certain qualities even better. Academics, for example, sometimes face the assumption that they are not practical or too contemplative. If you find out that you have to deal with such an assumption, you can address it next time with a telling example.

Are you looking for more tips for your job search? Take into consideration how values play a role in your relationship with your employer.