Careers Service

Marketing yourself effectively

Whatever your reasons for doing a research degree, you will want to make sure employers value the additional experience you are gaining as well as what you can offer through prior experiences. This page outlines how you can market yourself effectively to prospective employers.

What have you gained from your research degree?

If post-graduate qualifications are undertaken for the right reason and graduates are able to explain their worth to prospective employers, they can be very worthwhile additions to a CV.

Carl GilleardFormer Chief Executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters

If the subject of your research degree is relevant to the type of job which interests you, or you are applying for a job where research skills are needed, then your qualification will be of obvious interest to the employer. If not you will have to convince employers that your research degree has enhanced your skill set beyond your undergraduate degree. You should consider the skills and attributes you have developed through your degree which may include:

  • Specific technical and / or research skills
  • Data collection and analytical skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Commitment and self-motivation
  • Project management experience
  • Willingness to learn and develop
  • Problem-solving

It’s important to spend time reflecting on what you have gained from your research degree and how you can demonstrate this to an employer. You will find it useful to complete the skills audit below to help you market yourself in applications and interviews.

What have you got to offer – other activities?

Employers will be interested in what else you have been doing in addition to your research degree as they value skills developed through a wide range of experiences. They will be interested in any experience or involvement you have in, for example:

  • Work experience; full-time, part-time, voluntary, internships, both directly relevant and non-relevant.
  • Participation in sport, music, or other activities, as an individual, team member or coach.
  • Society membership or positions of responsibility, e.g. class rep, member of a student society, society committee member.

In the same way as you did for postgraduate study, you should think about the skills and attributes you have demonstrated through these other activities. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Using listening skills, negotiating, presentation and diplomacy e.g. as a class rep.
  • Working under pressure, managing your time and communicating with all types of people e.g. in a part-time job as a retail assistant.
  • Demonstrating clear communication, patience and problem-solving skills e.g. as a swimming coach.

The Employability Initiative at Edinburgh has developed a resource for students at all levels within the University of Edinburgh called WAVE (Work And Volunteering Experiences) which may be a good place to start recording your skills and evidence.

CVs, applications and interviews

You will want to document the experience you gained through your research degree as well as through other experience by preparing a CV for use in job or further study applications. In addition, it’s important you think about how to sell your research experience at interview. To find out more about how to prepare an effective CV and perform well at interviews look at the CVs, applications and interviews pages of our site.