9 Essential Articles on Transferable Skills for PhDs (Your Edge In a Job Search!)
Written by Jeanette McConnell, Ph.D.
The day I submitted my dissertation was a tough day.
Not only was I exhausted, but I felt very lost and uncertain about the future.
As I handed over the copies of my thesis, the receptionist said I should take a photo with my finished work.
I could hardly smile.
This document, that I had spent the last several years working on, seemed pointless. And, now that it was finished, I was completely unsure of what to do.
I knew what I didn’t want, though.
I didn’t want to work in a lab and I didn’t want to stay in academia.
But, what else had my PhD prepared me to do?
I felt unqualified for every single job.
But, I needed money, so I got a job as a server in a cafe.
Needless to say, I was not happy or satisfied with working in a cafe, but it seemed like the only thing I was qualified to do.
In a moment of clarity, I decided to ask other people what they thought I was good at and hoped they would say something besides, “serving coffee.”
The answers were eye-opening.
A few people said I was good at science, but most of the answers had nothing to do with science.
People told me I was good at writing, presenting, talking to people, teaching, organizing teams, persuading people, staying upbeat, thinking logically, dealing with conflict calmly… it was so surprising to hear these things about myself.
Especially when I was suffering so intensely from Imposter Syndrome that I barely felt qualified to work in a cafe.
But, the biggest thing I realized was that I learned many of those skills during my PhD, even though they had nothing to do with science.
A while later, I learned that these skills had a name — they are my transferable skills.
With a new-found confidence, I began highlighting these transferable skills during my job search.
I was finally on the path to a meaningful career, all because I realized the immense value of my transferable skills.
Why Your Transferable Skills Are Essential To Getting Hired In Industry
A recent report by LinkedIn found that 57% of business leaders think that “soft skills” are more important than technical skills.
The top skills they want to see in a job candidate are leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management.
They do not care if you are missing a few technical skills.
Companies can quickly train new employees in the techniques they want them to know, but it takes time to develop good communication skills or leadership skills, etc.
This makes the transferable skills you have developed as a PhD more valuable than the technical skills you’ve learned.
And, you have developed many important transferable skills.
According to a report published in PLOS, PhDs graduate with transferable skills that lead to a successful industry career.
Skills like communication, data gathering and interpretation, project management, innovation…
You just need to identify the transferable skills relevant to the types of positions you are interested in and then highlight these skills throughout your application.
You already have the skills required to transition from academia to industry.
Learn to leverage these skills, and it’s just a matter of time before you get hired into an industry position where you can do meaningful work and be well-paid for it.
Cheeky Scientist Top 9 Transferable Skills Articles
PhDs are qualified for a huge range of industry positions.
But, PhDs often mistake their technical skills as their most valuable trait.
To get hired and succeed in industry, you need transferable skills.
But, what are your transferable skills and how can you use them to get hired?
Here are the top 9 Cheeky Scientist articles about transferable skills to help you understand the value of your transferable skills and position yourself as a top job candidate…
What they won’t know is whether or not you understand business.
You will not get hired if you cannot demonstrate that you have at least some understanding of business.
But, there’s good news — PhDs already have lots of skills relevant to succeeding in a business environment.
You just need to identify these transferable skills and communicate them to the hiring committee.
This article shows you how to identify the transferable skills you already have and how to leverage those skills to get a high-paying job.
Even if you have all the technical qualifications for a position, this does not mean that you are a sure thing.
Biotech and biopharma companies are looking for the whole package.
But, what transferable skills are the most important for getting hired in the biotech and biopharma industries?
This article outlines 5 must-have transferable skills for PhDs interested in transitioning into the biotech industry.
You should take advantage of every opportunity to improve your repertoire of not only technical skills in the lab, but your transferable skills too.
Because it is your transferable skills, not your technical skills, that will set you apart from other job candidates.
You will be competing with others for industry positions, and any edge you can give yourself increases your chances of getting hired.
This article highlights 5 transferable skills that PhDs should leverage when applying for positions in the biotech and biopharma industries to get hired faster.
According to a report by The Royal Society of Chemistry, only 0.45% of PhDs will end up as a tenured professor.
But, many PhD programs are focused on training PhDs to become professors, and they do not adequately prepare students for careers outside academia.
This responsibility falls to you.
As a PhD student or postdoc, it’s up to you to take initiative and develop the transferable skills you will need to succeed outside academia.
This article provides 7 ways that PhDs can develop these essential transferable skills while still working in academia.
The average salary of an academic postdoc is a measly $46,000 (Payscale).
As a PhD, you are worth so much more than this.
But, the training you receive from your university largely neglects teaching you the professional skills that you will need to succeed outside academia.
Don’t leave the fate of your future in the hands of the academic system.
This article tells you about 7 transferable skills that PhDs must develop before you can be successful in job interviews.
What specifically do employers want to see in a PhD job candidate?
Well, they want to see that you are more than just an awkward academic.
Employers want to feel confident that you have the transferable skills required to succeed at their company.
To get hired as a PhD, you need to find out what transferable skills are important to your potential employer and then highlight these throughout the application process.
This article discusses the specific transferable skills that industry employers want to see in humanities PhDs.
Technical skills are not what impress industry employers.
The majority of employers think that “soft skills” are more important than technical skills (LinkedIn).
This is especially true for management positions.
Proving that you have the leadership ability to manage teams is worth more to a company than proving you have the technical know-how.
This article presents 10 skills that PhDs should highlight to increase their chances of getting hired into a management level position.
And, although it may surprise you, as a PhD you are well-suited to a management position.
Mentoring graduate students, leading projects, fostering collaborations, and chairing journal clubs, to name a few, are all things PhDs do daily which can be directly related to management.
As a PhD, you have already developed key transferable skills that are highly desirable in management-level positions.
Don’t let Imposter Syndrome keep you from getting the industry job you deserve.
This article outlines 6 transferable skills that you already have as a PhD that, when leveraged correctly, will make you a top candidate for management positions.
This is because your technical skills (or lack of technical skills) are not that important to employers.
They can always teach you the skills you need.
But, what employers care a lot about are your soft skills — your transferable skills.
Can you manage your time? Can you communicate clearly? Can you solve problems? Can you work well in a team?
These are the questions hiring committees ask themselves when they interview job candidates.
So, how can you ensure that you have the transferable skills employers want?
This article details 5 ways PhDs can develop transferable skills important in industry.
Your transferable skills are the most valuable thing you have to offer industry employers.
Throughout your PhD, you have developed a wide range of transferable skills that are highly desirable. Instead of focusing on your technical prowess, you should be leveraging the relevant transferable skills you have in order to demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job.
Every industry position requires transferable skills, from a research scientist position in biotech, to a management position in a non-profit.
As a PhD, you must leverage your transferable skills in order to get hired into the industry position that you deserve.
If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.
ABOUT ISAIAH HANKEL, PHD
CEO, CHEEKY SCIENTIST & SUCCESS MENTOR TO PHDS
Dr. Isaiah Hankel is the Founder and CEO of Cheeky Scientist. His articles, podcasts and trainings are consumed annually by millions of PhDs and other professionals in hundreds of different countries. He has helped PhDs transition into top companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Intel, Dow Chemical, BASF, Merck, Genentech, Home Depot, Nestle, Hilton, SpaceX, Tesla, Syngenta, the CDC, UN and Ford Foundation.
Dr. Hankel has published 3X bestselling books and his latest book, The Power of a PhD, debuted on the Barnes & Noble bestseller list. His methods for getting PhDs hired have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Nature, Forbes, The Guardian, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and Success Magazine.More Written by Isaiah Hankel, PhD