Post-PhD employment: What are you good at? Translating research skills

Please note that this course is finished for the moment, but you can still read the blog posts and undertake the activities. Please feel welcome to add your comments to the posts and join the ongoing conversation.


It isn’t always easy to see how your research skills can be used outside university. This week we explore ways of identifying and articulating your skills in ways that potential employers are likely to understand. Rest assured – you have heaps to offer! But sometimes it takes practice to work out how to translate what you know into language that can be understood outside academia.

By the end of this mini-course you will be able to:

  • Identify your key employability skills
  • Understand the key skills sought by employers outside academia
  • Provide examples of how/when you have demonstrated those skills

When is it? The course will run over a week, 15-19 June 2020. Please register your interest, by 5pm Friday 13 June.

How does it work? When you register, we’ll send you a link each day to a short blog post that provides some stimulating reading, links to relevant material, provocative questions and useful activities. All up, the reading and responding will take 20-30 minutes – just enough time to drink your coffee.

Day 1: What are you good at? Post-PhD employment

Introduction Are you starting to think about what you’ve learnt during your research degree and what skills you have developed along the way? Are you getting ready to work out what you will do next? For some HDRs and ECRs, plans have changed considerably with the event of the pandemic. If you are considering transitioning […]


Day 2: What are you good at? Post-PhD employment

Research Management As we start to find more ways of naming the skills learnt during a research degree this week, the range of ‘management’ skills begins to appear (column 2 on the ANU framework you looked at yesterday). PhD graduates transitioning out of academia often go into roles that involve management—of projects, of people, of […]


Day 3: What are you good at? Post-PhD employment

Communication One of the key strengths PhD graduates bring to their next job is high-level verbal and written communication skills. As my colleague Dr Claire Aitchison says, “HDRs don’t always realise that when they enrol in a research degree, they are signing up to become writers”. This might sound a little shocking to some—especially those who don’t particularly […]


Day 4: What are you good at? Post-PhD employment

Professional Practice The final column of the ANU Research Skills framework is labelled “Professional Practice”. This covers the skills and competencies that facilitate your work as a professional researcher – a leader in your area, rather than a student still learning from the professors. But this is not as daunting as it may sound when […]


Day 5: What are you good at? Post-PhD employment

Round up This week we have looked at a range of skills and capabilities developed during a research degree, labelling them as Research Technique, Research Management, Communication and Professional Practice. Under these headings, we’ve unpacked what kinds of skills can be included and the language we can use to describe them. ACTIVITY: During the week, you […]