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Are you an academic looking for a career change? Are you finding it hard to articulate your skills for a new industry?

This article will show you how your academic skills can open doors if you use the lingo of industry and avoid being vague. Even AI can make you sound vague so I have some tips to avoid that happening!

I’ll walk you through the steps to transition your expertise from academia to other industries or careers, showcasing your knowledge and experiences as valuable assets. Let’s begin this exciting path towards a new career adventure!

Identifying Transferable Skills:

Recognize the broad spectrum of skills you’ve honed in academia, like research, data analysis, project management, teaching, and writing.

Reflect on your experiences that demonstrate these skills, considering how they might be applied to industry roles.

Scroll down to where I talk about using AI / ChatGPT for articulating your skills and experiences.

Need extra support?

My FREE Mastering Your Transferable Skills Guide focuses on helping mid-career academics and PhDs transition to non-academic careers. It offers a practical approach to identifying and leveraging transferable skills. The guide encourages academics to reflect on their skills and experiences, such as research, writing, organizational change, policy work, and various forms of analysis. It emphasizes the importance of understanding how these skills are valuable in different industries and includes strategies for mapping skills to new roles, addressing skill gaps, and utilizing networks for career pivoting. Examples include transitioning from biology professor to real estate investor, illustrating the versatility of academic skills in diverse sectors.

Mastering Your Transferable Skills:

Skills ID: Reflect on your academic experiences to identify key skills like research, writing, and analysis.

Skills Mapping: Align these skills with roles in non-academic sectors, understanding their cross-industry value.

Address Any Skills Gaps: Identify and bridge any skills gaps through additional training or self-learning. Don’t get another degree or qualification unless it’s required to get a job. Do some informational interviews to find out.

Translatable Skills in Action:

Research Skills: Translate these into roles requiring analytical skills, program management and strategic planning.

Writing and Communication: Valuable for report writing, marketing, content creation, or policy development.

Critical Thinking and Analysis: Sought after in consulting, recruitment, organizational development, technology, and finance.

Tailoring Your Resume for Non-Academic Careers:

You need to completely reformat your academic CV; I advise starting from scratch. There are templates on or in MS Word.

Focus on your achievements – Highlight measurable outcomes and successes over academic titles and functions – if you can quantify them, even better – and skills over academic titles and responsibilities.

Highlight your experience in a way that’s relevant to the industry you’re targeting.

Use industry-specific terminology to replace academic jargon. I’ve begun using Google Alerts to follow different industry news so I become familiar with their jargon and their priorities. This way, I can map out their vision for the future and see how my skills could accelerate that journey.

Jargon Translation Examples:

“Pedagogical methods” becomes “training techniques.”

“Multidisciplinary team collaboration” turns into “collaborating across departments” Or “cross-functional working.”

“Curriculum development” is reframed as “program development.”

Bridging the Academic-Industry Gap:

Emphasize soft skills like communication, teamwork, and adaptability.

Include any industry-related experience, such as consulting. Have you been of service to any local community or organization? We often call “consulting” “service” in academia.

Networking and Professional Development:

Use academic and professional networks to explore opportunities and gain industry insights. LinkedIn is my go-to networking site!

Engage with professionals in your desired field through networking events, informational interviews, and social media platforms.

Communicate Your Worth:

Be ready to discuss how your academic experience can bring value to a non-academic role.

Practice a 1-minute and 2-minute “Tell us about yourself” answer that doesn’t spend a lot of time on your identity as an academic.

Communicate your skills and experiences in a way that resonates with non-academic interviewers.

Mindset and Expectations:

Become curious and open to adapting your academic skills to non-academic roles, particularly your skills and experiences in service and administration.

Stay open to learning and adapting to new environments. Now is the time to free yourself of rejection sensitivity, imposter phenomena, and people-pleasing. As someone with ADHD, these things haunted me for years when I left academia. Therapy, counseling, EMDR and coaching helped me to have better boundaries and not have a panic response every time someone said “Can we talk”.

Remember, transitioning from academia to another career is a journey of rebranding yourself and finding your new identity – not as an academic only. Having a flexible self-concept will help!

My mentoring programme, Life After Academia, includes confidence and boundaries, as well as 1:1 support with CV to resume conversions, cover letters, interviews, and enterprising ideas!

Embrace the process and be open to new opportunities and learning experiences.

Client Example: I met with an adjunct lecturer about their options in a complimentary career audit call.

Here are some things we identified.

The resume she had someone write for her was not good enough because it just straight translated the tasks in her CV into corporate-speak.

Her resume was vague, then, and quite generic.

It lacked a coherent story and much of it was not relevant to the job – talking about how many students taught without applying this experience to the new industry.

Here’s what I advised as a result.

Soft skills – She says she’s a good listener, but that’s too vague and generic. Instead, I suggested demonstrating her approachable demeanour with examples of times she took on team leadership and mentoring roles and the impact of co-production on the team’s productivity or cohesiveness.

I suggested using a bottom-up approach to understanding her skills in Team Leadership, Project Management, and Client Engagement. Write down all of the tasks and actions you’ve taken and build a story around how they demonstrate each of these categories of skills.

The above exercises allow you to think of your resume as a narrative or a story with keywords, evidence, and an understanding of the strengths you bring.

I realized, during our meeting, that she hadn’t seemed passionate about the jobs she was applying for. When I asked her “what would you be doing if money were no object?” Her eyes lit up! What came out next was something that I was able to help her to strategize to achieve!

Are you wondering how to quantify your achievements?

Have you created new partnerships or brought anyone in to teach? That can be quantified as building capacity.

Have you created a new course? That takes a lot of coordination with many departments and you’d need to “market” that to XX number of students who enrolled.

Impact can also be service and committees if it led to policy changes, development or implementation. Process improvements could also evidence impact by reducing the time to approve ethics applications or whatever.

It depends on what is relevant to the job and industry you’re looking at.

I sometimes mentioned health-related numbers like “Directed the training of 100+ clinical doctoral trainees every year all of whom entered the National Health Service as psychotherapists” but I didn’t do the same for the undergrads and PhD students, because of the nature of the health job I applied for. If it was for a research training job, then I talked about PhDs etc.

It’s like when students write essays, we ask them to only include what’s relevant.

Once you write down all of your tasks and activities, plug them into ChatGPT to translate them for the new job role.

Here’s Some Tips on Using AI for resumes and cover letters:

I’m not an affiliate of Teal.hq but I have been testing their platform, and there are some very useful tools. They offer free video guides on how to use ChatGPT for your resume and cover letter.

Why you might consider using AI…

Time-Saving: Quickly generates resume content based on the information you provide, saving time in the resume creation process.

Customization: Helps tailor the resume to match specific job descriptions, enhancing the relevance of the application.

Identifying Strengths: Suggests skills or experiences you might have overlooked, making your application more comprehensive.

Greater Chance of Success: It produces a well-written and accurate resume that effectively showcases your skills and experience. This only works if you start fresh and don’t use your academic CV. I’ve used a promotion document to better effect because I was forced to describe each of my tasks in fine detail and delineate my contribution to the university.

Achievements Tailored to Job Descriptions: You can use ChatGPT to generate resume achievements based on job responsibilities. This involves copying the responsibilities from the job description and asking ChatGPT to create achievements with metrics.

Creating a Professional Summary: ChatGPT can also help write a professional summary for your resume. You’ll need to copy your resume text into ChatGPT and prompt it to write a summary.

Drafting a Cover Letter: ChatGPT can assist in writing a cover letter tailored to a specific job application. Use the text from your tailored resume and also provide the job description, and ask for a cover letter. You can even ask for it to be in bullet form, highlighting your biggest achievements.

Updating and Improving an Existing Resume: ChatGPT can be used to enhance your resume by rewriting work experience, personalizing your professional summaries, and providing content ideas for skills and achievements.

Teal.hq provides some helpful prompts:

Writing Resume Achievements:

Prompt: “Write resume achievements with metrics based on these job responsibilities: [insert job responsibilities].”

Creating a Professional Summary:

Prompt: “Write a professional summary using my resume: [paste your resume here].”

Drafting a Cover Letter:

Prompt: “Write a cover letter using my resume and this job description: [paste resume and job description].”

Updating and Improving an Existing Resume:

For rewriting work experience: “Rewrite my work experience with more impactful language: [paste work experience].”

For personalizing a professional summary: “Modify my professional summary for this specific job: [paste summary and job description].”

For content ideas: “Provide content ideas for my skills and achievements based on this resume: [paste resume].”

For grammar and punctuation review: “Review my resume for grammar and punctuation errors: [paste resume].”

Best practices for using ChatGPT:

Provide Detailed Prompts: Be specific with your prompts to get the most tailored response.

Relevant Information: Supply ChatGPT with job descriptions and your resume for personalized responses.

Review: Ensure the AI-generated content is accurate and professional. Double-check for errors in the AI-generated materials.

Ask Friends/Colleagues for Feedback: Before submission, get a second opinion on your resume.

If you need further help or a non-academic CV or resume review, let me know! I have options to work with me that include 1:1 support, monthly memberships, and various courses.

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