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Transferable PhD Skills for Business

Considering alternative careers in science? Think about these transferable skills every PhD has!

careers in science

There's a wide breadth of positions available if you're considering alternative careers in science and trying to bridge the gap from academia to business. However, it can be daunting to apply to such positions if you're not entirely sure what to put on your resume or cover letter.

For instance, you may ask yourself the question: How is my PhD thesis really relevant to that business consultant role?

In reality, you have many skills to write about if you're coming from an academic background. Keep these ones in mind as you're thinking of different careers in science, writing your applications, or planning your next major career move!

careers in science

Strategic Decision-Making

If you're coming from an academic background, you're already an expert in making decisions. You have dealt with using limited data in order to plan your next round of experiments or publications. Most often, the best course of action is not entirely clear and sound judgement calls are necessary.

In corporate environments, decision-making is extremely valued. Companies tend to have many moving parts and it's important that all processes align with broader company objectives. Unfortunately, going with the optimal scenario is usually not possible due to resource constraints.

As such, it's critical to decide on the best possible option, fast. As you're applying to alternative careers in science, think about times when you had to make decisions on the spot. What were the outcomes and how did you come up with a solution? This is great practice for interview questions!

Expert Communication

The business world is chock full of data ranging from market intelligence to internal information. There is also limited time. Companies have to move quickly and strategically.

As a result, candidates who demonstrate an innate ability to convey complex information in a succinct and easily understandable way are extremely valued. At the root of every business decision is data. If you want to push specific projects in a company, you have to be able to convince stakeholders on multiple levels that your recommendations are sound and backed up by reasoning.

For someone who is coming out of academia, this transferable skill is extremely well developed because of the years of practice in preparing written reports, doing oral presentations, and leading lab meetings.

Creativity and Innovation

Creativity and innovation are at the center of strategy. If a company does not innovate, it runs the risk of losing relevance in the market. If there's no sales, there's no future for the company.

As a consequence, hiring managers often look for candidates that can think outside the box and challenge the status quo. For instance, coming up with a marketing strategy that competitors haven't thought of.

If you're coming from an academic background, you have already demonstrated creativity by finding novel solutions to problems, coming up with new methods, and communicating never-before-seen data.


Thanks for reading and I hope you found this useful as you're looking for alternative careers in science and thinking about your transferable PhD skills. Not sure if you have the right skills on your resume? Do a free resume assessment on The Academic Blueprint's homepage.

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