Research and analysis skills are crucial for PhD students and academics. The great thing about research skills is that they are also highly relevant for post-academic careers. As researchers, we develop a range of research skills throughout our degree, including data collection, analysis, interpretation, and communication of findings. These skills are valued in many different contexts, and can help you to stand out in the job market and advance your careers.
How Can I Use My Research Skills?
One way research skills can be applied in post-academic careers is in industry. In industries such as healthcare, finance, and technology, research and analysis skills are used to develop new products, identify market trends, and inform business strategies. With strong research and analysis skills you can leverage your expertise to advance your careers in these industries, as well as in consulting firms that work in partnership with these industries.
For instance, in the healthcare industry, research and analysis skills can be used to conduct clinical trials, analyse data, and identify trends and patterns in patient outcomes. Equally, you can work with tech companies specialising in the healthcare sector. Maybe you’re not running the clinical trial, but you can contribute to how certain tech products can optimise health outcomes.
In the finance industry, research skills can be used to analyse market trends and patterns, conduct financial analysis, and develop investment strategies. Here you may look to improve a teams sales-cycle, build sales playbooks, identify what is and isn’t performing in the market, or even understanding where certain products or services can add as much value to their customers.
In the technology industry, research skills can be used to identify emerging technologies, conduct user research, and analyse user data to inform product development. Roles like UX researcher are increasingly popular in today’s market. Being able to articulate your strong research skills effectively in a cover letter or on your LinkedIn will likely help make this transition relatively smooth.
Government roles also require strong research and analysis skills, as they are used to inform policy decisions and evaluate the effectiveness of government programs and initiatives. PhD graduates with expertise in data collection, analysis, and interpretation can use their skills to excel in government roles, especially in policy analysis, programme evaluation, and research positions. Your writing skills can come in handy here too, being able to communicate policy documents or guidelines to a lay audience will be integral for this sector.
A good example of a government agency includes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Your research skills can be used to analyse environmental data and evaluate the effectiveness of environmental regulations. Similarly, the Department of Education can benefit from your research skills to help evaluate the impact of education policies and programmes. In the Department of Health and Human Services, research skills can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of public health initiatives. The beauty about all of these is that your academic subject area doesn’t have to be in the same field. The research skills are what people are after, not necessarily your subject matter expertise – opening up a world of possibilities.
Start-up’s and non-profit organisations also value research and analysis skills, as they are used to evaluate the impact of programmes and to identify areas where additional resources are needed. With expertise in data analysis and interpretation, you can leverage your skills to advance your career in these sectors, especially in programme evaluation, product management, and research positions. In fact, any role requiring research skills are likely to be highlighly fruitful for you.
Taking non-profit organisations as an example, research skills with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) can be used to evaluate the impact of conservation programmes and develop new conservation strategies. The British Red Cross may benefit from the evaluation of disaster relief programmes and inform disaster response strategies.
Working in these areas are likely to speak to those who love adding impact and are trying to make a real difference in the world. Using your research skills in these sectors can give you real tangible outcomes that are likely to make the world a better place. This is often a lot of academics set out to achieve when starting a PhD or post-graduate research, so this could be a great fit for those who have impact high up on their life values.
Finally, your research skills can be applied in a variety of academic roles beyond your PhD. A research scientist or research analyst position in an academic research institution is a great example of this. PhD graduates with strong research skills can also leverage their expertise to pursue careers in academic publishing, research consulting, and scientific writing.
These area will still leverage your knowledge of the academic world, but in a slightly different context. For example, in academic publishing, research skills can be used to evaluate the quality of research manuscripts and to develop new research journals. In research consulting, research skills can be used to help clients develop research projects, analyse data, and interpret findings. In scientific writing, research skills can be used to write and edit scientific articles and research reports – quite similar to how you would write and publish during your PhD anyway.
In conclusion, research and analysis skills developed during a PhD degree are highly relevant for post-academic careers in a range of fields. The skills can be applied in industry, government, non-profit organisations, start-ups, and academic roles beyond post-doc positions. If you’re a PhD graduate with strong research skills, you can leverage your expertise to advance your career and make impactful contributions to a range of fields. With these skills, you can stand out in the job market and contribute to the success of organisations in various industries. The world really is your oyster.
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