Research is central to your work experience. The way you present this experience depends upon your audience. Some selectors relate directly to your research and look for specific research skills. Others need to be convinced that doing research has given you high-level transferable skills that are valuable in other settings.
To help you make an impact, we look at how to present your research:
Both language and structure can help tailor your research experience to your target job.
Match your language to your audience
Put yourself in the position of the reader. They will ask ‘Why was this research done?' closely followed by ‘Was this person successful?' How you answer will depend on whether you are applying for a research post or not.
Academic research applications
Emphasise your academic credentials (for example, journal publications, academic prizes). Concise academic descriptions in the language of your discipline will be expected. More details can be found in Applying for academic jobs
Research jobs outside academia (e.g. commercial or public sector)
Selectors will be interested in your research knowledge, skills and techniques, but less concerned with academic credentials such as journal publications. More important will be ability to communicate verbally and on paper with colleagues outside the research function, so include evidence to support this (reports, short articles). Take care with technical jargon - recruiters may not be familiar with your specialist area.
Research jobs outside your research area
Emphasise transferable research skills (for example, data collection, dissemination, research project management). Self-evaluation can help you identify these. Use language that non specialists can understand.
Jobs not research based
To persuade your audience that academic research has equipped you with skills for the job, use vocabulary understandable to the layman. Provide only a basic outline of your research and concentrate on evidence of transferable skills (for example, self-reliance, problem-solving, project management). For help, look at the skills self-evaluation tools. Using a skills-based CV may help you tailor your application for work in a new area.
Use eye-catching headings to highlight relevant information and your strengths. For descriptions under the headings, use wording appropriate to your audience.
- Aims - clear aims of the research
- Achievements - what you did to achieve your aims
- Research techniques - include details if relevant to the application
- Abstract - for academic and other research jobs, but not necessary for non- academic audiences
- Practical experience - research related industrial placement, field work
- Professional and research experience - substitute this for ‘employment history' if you have had few relevant jobs and want to highlight your research experience
- Responsibilities - your role in the research group, committees, demonstrating, teaching, supervision, managing budgets, organising conferences or seminars - use to provide evidence of transferable skills, such as verbal communication, organisational skills, project management
- Publications - essential for academic positions. If journal articles are still ‘work in progress' you could present your ‘publications' as ‘dissemination of results' (below). For non-academic posts and non-research posts, include reports or articles that demonstrate written communication skills and, if relevant, ability to communicate with non-academic audiences
- Dissemination of results - conference presentations, seminars, reports, articles in professional journals or newspapers
- Training - research training, skills development, GRADschool attendance, teaching
- Awards - extra sponsorship to attend conferences, or prizes
Stand out from the crowd
Identify what evidence you have that you are a successful researcher - even if you are now planning a new path. Some suggestions:
- publications - including patents, research articles and industry reports
- conferences - note any posters or presentations as well as attendance. Highlight invitations to present a talk or lead a seminar
- committees - particularly positions of responsibility
- funding - awards of research funding, to attend meetings, conferences or prizes won
- professional qualifications - membership of learned societies or professional bodies.
Oral presentations may be required in interviews or assessment centres. Look at general tips for giving presentations in Successful interviews and consider your audience before beginning to create your presentation.
Look at interview presentation tips in Academic job interviews
Research audiences in non-academic settings
Tailor your style and content. Research their interests in advance and check if they have published in your field. Anticipate questions with a commercial slant:
- What was the purpose of your work?
- What is its value or contribution to the field?
- What have you achieved?
- How does this relate to other work in the field?
- How have you ensured that it is disseminated to relevant people?
- What are the next steps?
Practise your presentation with a friendly but critical audience - preferably with insight into the field, company or research group you are applying to. Ask for feedback on content, style and delivery. Act on it.
Consider level of intellect and prior knowledge of your audience when deciding how much detail to include. Always consider the purpose of the presentation. It could be to test your ability to communicate complex ideas simply, if part of the job is to reach non- specialists in functions outside R&D.
Comment on this page.