Five Skills I Can Use to Develop My Career Beyond My PhD

Five transferable skills for all PhD students:

  1. Problem solving.
  2. Project management.
  3. Written communication.
  4. Oral communication.
  5. Presentation skills.

Be careful when identifying your transferable skills from your PhD – not all are created equal.


Good day there, bakers, writers, and rock stars! Dr. Richard Huysmans here. Bringing 5 skills that you can use to develop your career beyond your PhD.

Number 1 – Problem solving. This should be the number 1 reason you did a PhD to improve your problem solving skills. It shouldn’t be the reason to get a PhD. Shouldn’t be to get a job in research but if it is no problem, if you want to get out or if you want to know what another transferable skill is problem solving is the number one thing.

The next thing that you’ve done I’ll probably have done a lot of in your PhD is project management. Overseeing your PhD is a big project management task. Not many people in their mid-20’s have undertaken a project that goes for 3 to 7 years. And if you’ve done that and you managed it well it’s completed all of those kinds of things. You could consider yourself a relatively good project manager. To develop that skill further look up the lingo online. Just type in project management skills and get you familiar with some of the language that project managers use, and you’ll know how to apply it to your PhD project.

The 3rd transferable skill is written communication. Probably more technical writing than general communication. I think researchers are trained in technical writing. Writing for journal articles in my view is a type of technical writing. Writing methodology is definitely technical writing. Writing reports, particularly scientific reports for your supervisor or your panel, your supervisory panel. They’re all examples of technical writing.

Oral communication, that’s number 4. Given that you probably have to present your data once a year at least. In many cases 2 or 3 times a year. Either to informal settings such as part of your research group or more formal settings as part of your confirmation of candidature or your first, second or third-year check-in. Oral communication is another big transferable skill that you’re using. Not to mention oral communication that might happen on a daily basis with collaborators or other people in your research team who you potentially get samples or support from.

And finally, presentation skills. You’ll be surprised to learn that not all jobs and not all people have to build presentations and navigating your way around programs like PowerPoint or Keynote or Google Slides is a useful way of building those skills. And they are definitely transferable to other jobs and opportunities.

There you have it 5 things that you can find transferable skills that you can use to develop your career beyond your PhD:  Problem solving, project management, written communication, oral communication, and presentation skills. Have fun!