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TRANSFERABLE SKILLS TRAINING: EMPLOYMENT OUTSIDE ACADEMIA Bruce Woodcock Careers and Employability Service Slides for this talk are available at

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Presentation on theme: "TRANSFERABLE SKILLS TRAINING: EMPLOYMENT OUTSIDE ACADEMIA Bruce Woodcock Careers and Employability Service Slides for this talk are available at"— Presentation transcript:

1 TRANSFERABLE SKILLS TRAINING: EMPLOYMENT OUTSIDE ACADEMIA Bruce Woodcock Careers and Employability Service Slides for this talk are available at

2 Content  Is a PhD worthwhile?  Skills gained on a PhD  What do employers look for in postgraduates?  Making applications: the difference between academic and business CVs  What do PhDs go into after completion?  What jobs are there outside research?  The CES at the University of Kent and how it can help you Darwin DS14 2 – 4.30 Holds 22 PhD Destinations 2012 UK/EU (DLHE survey) 68% UK Work 15% Work Abroad 6% U/E Two PhD and researcher satisfaction surveys which were published last week. See a summary on my blog students-and.html including links to the full reports and to the THES (12/09/2013) article on the ‘unrealistic expectations of researchers’. students-and.html

3 Content  Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) 2013 The 2013 Careers in Research Online Survey (CROS) survey has found there is a "significant credibility gap" between researchers' expectations and the likelihood of their forging long-term careers in higher education. Chair of the AGCAS Research Staff Task Group, Josie Grindulis, said that in common with other intellectually rewarding professions, a career in research was very competitive but "researchers do not all have a full awareness of quite how competitive [it is]". Read the full storyCareers in Research Online Survey (CROS)Read the full story  Increase in numbers of graduates awarded higher degrees: 31,000 in 1990 to 182,000 in 2010  But number doing postgrad research degrees has stayed the same at about 25,000 p.a. over the last few years. Everyone, it seems, loves the idea of scholars interdisciplinary work. But does academe reward those -- particular young scholars -- who actually do it? A new study, based on data from all people who earned Ph.D.s in 2010, suggests the opposite. In the year after earning their doctorates, those in the cohort who did interdisciplinary dissertations earned, on average, $1,700 less than those who completed dissertations in a single field. Read more: phds-who-write-interdisciplinary-dissertations-earn- less#ixzz2jmnyGdHj A new study, phds-who-write-interdisciplinary-dissertations-earn- less#ixzz2jmnyGdHj

4 The Value of Formal Education in Career Success 2434720-the-value-of-formal-education-in-career-success I've always believed that the pursuit of a PhD is a noble venture. You spend years and years of your life toiling away to move human knowledge in a small tiny area, just a little bit forward. It is fantastic for humanity. Ideally it also delivers personal satisfaction, and a fulfilling career that pays you well enough (if not outrageously well!). Usually for PhDs at the end of their education/thesis there was an opportunity to move on to a position in academia to teach, or pursue knowledge further. The graph above illustrates the sad truth that this is no longer an option. Since 1982, almost 800,000 PhDs were awarded in science and engineering (S&E) fields, whereas only about 100,000 academic faculty positions were created in those fields within the same time frame. Source: Academia is not the only option of course, one can always consider non-academic options. This choice poses a challenge most job seekers don't consider. A non-academic entity will give you a job if your skills are commercially monetizable. You could take a job managing people, you could take a job doing molecular research, you could take a job analyzing data. Lots of choices. But is your degree, your wonderful effort to push the boundary of human knowledge in a tiny small area in a significant way, commercially monetizable? If it does not, all your investment in earning the PhD might not have a commensurate financial impact on your life (or even bring professional satisfaction). All of us on LinkedIn have a shared concern for our careers and investment in education. The above graph, and reality, have two implications we all should really care about. 1. If commercial monetization becomes an important consideration criteria, will that reduce the number of people willing to push the boundaries of human knowledge in all the areas required? I think it will, and that will be disappointing. I'm not sure what the best solution is. Should we increase funding and establish innovation centers were anyone with a proven track record of moving human knowledge boundaries is guaranteed a position, and a well enough salary? Something else? 2. When you think about the next investment in your own career, a bachelors degree, a masters degree or taking one of the many free online options now available, should you focus on what is commercially monetizable or just follow what best piques your curiosity? The answer might seem obvious: "Follow your passion! Follow your curiosity!!" But as the graph above suggests, that might not always be financially rewarding in the near term and if that does not happen it might not be personally rewarding in the long term. Tough, tough, tough challenge. Formal education is not necessary (at least for a few) to achieve personal or professional success. But it no longer seems sufficient either. Each person will figure out their own path, but I hope you'll pause, give this graph and reality a bit of a thought, and then.... do the very best you are personally capable of!

5 Sutton Trust Report The proportion of people of working age in Britain with a postgraduate qualification has climbed rapidly: from 4% in 1996 to 11% in 2012 The study found that a postgraduate degree remained linked to higher earnings: worth on average £5,500 per year more than someone with only an undergraduate degree. Is a PhD worthwhile?

6 What do postdoctoral recruiters say they are looking for? I look for a confident and able researcher who displays a passion for their subject area and who conveys a proactive attitude to developing their professional standing in the field. This might be through increased publications, grant applications, conference presentations, etc. In particular I am looking for evidence that the applicant has thought this through and not just telling me what I want to hear. So, what might the grant proposal be about, what might their next paper be on or which journal might it be published in? Detailed answers to these and evidence of having published already would give me confidence that they are serious contenders. (Senior Lecturer in Engineering)


8 What do Employers look for in Postgraduate applicants? Rank the following in order e.g. 1 for most important and 10 for least important:  Can be asked to undertake independent research  Good time management  Negotiation skills  Ability to listen to others  Ability to present ideas clearly (verbally & in writing)  Attention to detail & thoroughness  Ability to identify areas for change or improvement  Capable of learning new IT systems quickly  Can integrate quickly into team  Honesty & integrity

9 What do Employers look for in Postgraduate applicants? On appointment: 1.Honesty & integrity 2.Ability to listen to others 3.Can integrate quickly into team 4.Ability to present ideas clearly (verbally & in writing) 5.Good time management After one year: 1.Ability to identify areas for change or improvement 2.Can be asked to undertake independent research 3.Negotiation skills 4.Capable of learning new IT systems quickly 5.Attention to detail & thoroughness

10 Postgraduates’ Skills They may also have the following skills:  experience of working in partnership with industry or a non- academic organisation. experience of liaising with industrial partners and knowledge transfer activity  experience of teaching and mentoring undergraduates  high level numerical and analytical skills  experience of working with a diverse workforce and being involved In international activity and collaboration  experience of leading people and teams  the ability to secure research funding through persuasive writing  understanding of opportunities for commercialisation of their work and knowledge of IP issues  experience of communicating research and complex ideas to a wide variety of audiences including the general public.

11 What skills do PhD researchers have?

12 Postgraduates’ Skills PhD researchers usually have the ability to:  understand and create knowledge at the forefront of their discipline  conceptualise, design and implement projects for the generation of new knowledge and/or understanding  analyse a problem and generate creative solutions to it, drawing on existing knowledge and the gathering of new knowledge  work independently and under their own initiative  plan and deliver a large piece of work independently and over a long period of time  Plus experience of cutting edge research skills and techniques. SELL THESE SKILLS IN YOUR CV, APPLICATION FORMS AND AT INTERVIEW!

13 How does an academic CV differ from a business CV? Write down everything you think you should include in your CV if applying for a post as a postdoctoral researcher or university lecturer. How long should your CV be? Write down all the things that you would include in a CV for a non- research post in, for example, a business environment. How long should your CV be?

14 Academic CV An academic CV by a PhD student applying for research posts is longer than the conventional 2 sided CV. Include:  Synopsis of your PhD at the beginning or as an appendix;  Research Interests  Conferences attended (including presentations or poster displays)  Publications in chronological order, but if the most are recent not relevant use a subheading such as "Relevant publications". Other subheadings could include "Peer reviewed", "In Progress", and "Conference Proceedings". A long list of publications could be in an appendix  Evidence of teaching/presenting skills such as leading seminars or practicals.  Administration experience such as sitting on committees plus any record in attracting funding  Research Methods and Scientific techniques e.g. NMR, HPLC etc.  Awards and membership of professional bodies  Evidence of IT, time management, project management and report writing skills  For research posts in industry mention contact with industry such as placements  More than the usual two referees: At least one from your postgraduate research One from an employer or other person commenting on personal qualities outside academic performance Example PhD CV

15 Business CV  Two pages maximum  Targeted at job with examples of relevant skills  Less about research skills, conferences, publications  More about problem solving, time management, project management skills, creativity, initiative, contact with industry etc. CVs differ by country e.g. a French resume includes a photo and has a hand written covering letter.

16 THE COVERING LETTER One side of A4 maximum First Paragraph –State the job you’re applying for. –Where you found out about it. –When you're available to start work (& end if it's a placement) Second Paragraph –Why your interested in that type of work –Why the company attracts you (if it's a small company say you prefer to work for a small friendly organisation!) Third Paragraph –Summarise your strengths and how they might be an advantage to the organisation. –Relate your skills to the job. Last Paragraph –Mention any dates that you won't be available for interview –Thank the employer and say you look forward to hearing from them soon.

17 Need to network and make speculative applications Create a LinkedIn profile Creative Jobhunting web page Useful Links Work Abroad Study Abroad Includes international rankings for universities International students careers

18 What do PhDs do?  Source: HESA DLHE Surveys)

19 Postgraduate Employment What jobs can you do with a PhD? Write down as many jobs you can think of that PhDs are likely to enter.

20 Destinations of Kent PhD Students 2005 to 2011 Career Help for Postgraduates and Contract Researchers Click on the “Choosing a career” tab to see destinations of Kent PhDs in recent years. Destinations of Kent grads and postgraduates 1999-2011)



23 Employers recruiting researchers Ely Lilly EMB Consultancy LLP Eversheds Financial Services Authority HM Forces/The Army: HSBC Jaguar Land Rover JBA Consulting Kaplan Higher Education KPMG Medical Research Council Mewburn Ellis Mott MacDonald Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement North Somerset Council Onalytica Ltd Ordnance Survey Oxford PharmaGenesis Pfizer Pilkington Group Limited Procter & Gamble QinetiQ Rolls-Royce PLC Simon Mort Reports Ltd Space Northwest The Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre The National Physical Laboratory The Work Foundation Thinktank Trust UBS Investment Bank Unilever Waymont Consulting Limited Accenture AstraZenica Baker Richards Consulting Bank of England Belzona Polymerics Limited BP Research & Technology Business Research Group (UK) Ltd Capita Hartshead CellAura Technologies Ltd Corus CRAC Credit Suisse Curtis+Cartwright Consulting Ltd Doosan Babcock Energy Ltd

24 Career intentions of doctoral researchers 2012 Vitae published research in 2012 based on the views of over 4,500 researchers undertaking doctoral study in the UK in 130 UK universities. Charts their career trajectories into postgraduate research and also their future career aspirations and how these are shaped by their experiences. Download What do researchers want to do? The career intentions of doctoral researchers intentions-of-doctoral-graduates-Feb12.pdfWhat do researchers want to do? The career intentions of doctoral researchers intentions-of-doctoral-graduates-Feb12.pdf

25 Choosing a career  Choosing a career web pages  I want to work in ….  Prospects Planner Powerful program to help choose a career.  Vitae UK organisation championing the personal, professional and career development of doctoral researchers and research

26 Sources of Further Information  Careers Help for Postgraduates and Contract Researchers  Your PhD… what next? (AGCAS)  Your Masters… what next? (AGCAS)  What do PhDs do?  Beyond the PhD  PhD Jobs Site  CES Postgraduate Destination Survey  platform for academics to share research papers  RCUK Careers in Research. 75 research career case studies on the RCUK Careers in Research website, covering many disciplines including humanities, maths, biology, social sciences and physics. Highlight the opportunities research skills can give, not only in academia but also in business, industry and commerce.RCUK Careers in Research

27 Telephone: 01227 823299 Email: Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9 to 5 including vacations Drop-in times (no appointment needed): 10.30 to 12.30 & 2 to 4 pm Help given for up to 3 years after graduation Weekly careers emails every Monday

28 TRANSFERABLE SKILLS TRAINING: EMPLOYMENT OUTSIDE ACADEMIA Careers and Employability Service Slides for this talk are available at

29 Top 7 Skills of Postgrads Recruiting researchers: survey of employer practice 2009 (CRAC):  data analysis  problem solving  drive & motivation  project management  interpersonal skills  leadership  commercial awareness Sell these skills in your cv, application forms and at interview!

30 What skills do PhD researchers have? Write down as many skills as you can that would make an employer recruit a PhD rather than a graduate.

31 Skills - from Psychology  Communication  Independent learning  Information technology  Numeracy (& Statistics)  Problem solving  Research methodology  Scientific methods  Teamwork  Use of quantitative and qualitative data

32 Where are researchers employed?  Universities  Research councils and institutes  Central/local government  NGOs  Social and market research  Public health laboratories  National Health Service  Business and industrial research

33 Postgraduates’ Skills PhD study also develops the ability to:  Communicate complex ideas in both written and oral forms to a variety of audiences  Work in teams and collaborate with, and manage, senior colleagues  Network and build contacts  Understand their career goals and aspirations and how these may be realised

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