University of Bath

Marketing yourself as a researcher

Find out about identifying and marketing the skills you have developed as a researcher

Introduction

Effective marketing is essential for entering and engaging in a competitive market. This is true whether your aim is to stay in academia or move outside it. Marketing is all about convincing employers that you have the right skills, experience and motivation to fit their needs. To do this, you need to know what you have to offer, understand what the employer wants, and prepare effective marketing materials. Here's how:

  • Knowing you - Know your skills, strengths, values and motivations. See the Find out what you want section of the Careers Service website and carry out an analysis of your skills.
  • Knowing them - research your chosen occupation carefully. You can use the occupational research section of the Careers Service catalogue. Research your target employers, you can use the employer section of the catalogue. Access the resource catalogue. You should also make effective use of networking.
  • Prepare your marketing materials - CVs, cover letters, or application forms, depending on the job you are applying for.

Identifying your research skills

As researchers you develop a very broad skill set, ranging from technical research skills to softer skills such as communication and people management. If you need convincing, map out everything you do as part of your research day-to-day, and then ask yourself 'What skills am I using and how?'

Also, take a look at the list of researchers’ transferable skills below and also the nationally-recognised Researcher Development Framework.

According to a survey, employers value the skills of researchers but do not feel that researchers always effectively articulate the skills they have. Clearly articulating your skills involves:

  • providing concrete examples that demonstrate you have the required skills.
  • not assuming that employers understand what is involved in a PhD / research project.
  • talking about your research skills in language that will resonate with your target employer.

Marketing your research skills

An important aspect of marketing for researchers is to think about how to present your research effectively to employers. How you talk about your research will depend on the type of role and employer you are targeting.

If you are applying for research jobs (and potentially other jobs closely related to your field), you will need to provide details of the content and achievements of your research as well as details of your technical research skills. For academic research jobs you should also include publications and awards and prizes.

For jobs outside of your field or where research is not the primary activity, emphasise the transferable skills gained from the research rather than the content. Use terminology that helps employers understand how your skills are relevant to them; for example, talking about presentation skills rather than lectures, people management rather than teaching, and mentioning publications as part of writing skills.

As far as possible, use phrases given in the job description; this will make it as easy as possible for recruiters to see you have the skills they are looking for.

Skills development

Assessing and developing your skills is an important part of both developing as a researcher and preparing for whatever will follow your PhD or research contract. Review your skills regularly and identify areas for development and action plans. All researchers should review their skills development with their supervisor/research manager on a yearly basis - see the Researcher Development Unit website for more information on this.

Transferable skills

Project management

  • Financial management
  • Understanding financial systems
  • Budgetary control
  • Managing people
  • Understanding the characteristics of an effective team
  • Interpersonal skills within teams
  • Leadership
  • Motivation
  • Team building
  • Skills in delegation and support
  • Planning
  • Planning the work and the allocation of work
  • Planning to avoid peak load problems for support staff
  • Proposal writing
  • Expertise in writing project proposals
  • Quality issues
  • Understanding of quality assurance processes
  • Conducting regular project reviews - including development of ideas
  • Skills in working to deadlines and producing a quality product
  • Understanding the project's purposes
  • Clarity on project context
  • Information/document management
  • Know-how management
  • Construction of databases
  • Document handling

Personal and interpersonal

  • Networking skills
  • Financial management
  • Time management
  • Assertiveness skills
  • Use of information technology
  • Word processing
  • Skills of workload management
  • Stress management skills
  • Managing your supervisor
  • Negotiation and persuasion
  • Communication skills
  • Managing people
  • Team working
  • Managing change
  • Handling the media

Corporate management/business skills

  • Entrepreneurship e.g. business start-up awareness
  • Technology transfer
  • Protection and exploitation of intellectual property rights (IPR)

Research skills

Context

  • Keeping abreast of current developments/future trends in the research domain
  • Maintenance of familiarity with literature and with current practice in the field
  • Awareness of research activities of other people in the centre
  • Awareness of the wider social and political context of the research

Strategic

  • Clarity of thought.
  • Ability to distil out the finding of crucial significance from volumes of research data.
  • Ability to operate across a range of different projects.
  • Ability to generate high profile, authoritative statements on key issues.
  • Developing the ability of staff to apply research methods/concepts to new domains.

Research concepts

  • Research strategies
  • Ethical issues
  • Scientific method - some philosophical considerations
  • Philosophies and issues within research
  • Hypothesis generating and testing
  • The political dimensions of research
  • Ethnographic research
  • Economic models of research

Methods

  • Bibliographic and reading skills
  • Quantitative and IT aspects in research
  • Understanding of how to exploit hierarchical databases and use CD-ROMS
  • Statistical analysis techniques
  • Methodology generating and testing
  • Measurement and experimental design
  • Analysis of data - hard and soft
  • Validation of findings
  • Statistical skills
  • Qualitative and historical aspects in research
  • Working with organisations
  • Design and use of questionnaires
  • Using questionnaires in organisations
  • Survey techniques
  • Case study approaches to research
  • Computer modelling
  • Interviewing and participant observation
  • Field work
  • Survey methods (interviews, questionnaires, case techniques, action research)
  • Econometric methods; psychometric methods
  • Linear and multivariate modelling
  • Association and grouping analysis techniques
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Interviewing skills
  • Knowledgeable about available software for data analysis
  • Acknowledgement of the importance of qualitative skills
  • Survey techniques
  • Enhancement of qualitative skills e.g. awareness of software packages
  • Sound quantitative grasp even if not primarily a quantitative researcher

Dissemination

  • Writing skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Ability to write and present appropriately to different audiences
  • Skills in identifying outlets for publication
  • Networking skills

Other pages for researchers