What categories of transferable skills are relevant for doctoral researchers?

There is no single answer to this questions, there are various categorization published in literature. Here, only one very comprehensive one will be shown:


The EURODOC categorization

In 2018, the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior researchers (EURODOC) has published a report aiming to identify Transferable Skills and Competences to enhance Early-Career Researchers’ Employability and Competitiveness. They used a matrix that contains in total 66 transferable skills grouped into 9 categories focusing on essential research, career development, digital, communication, cognitive, interpersonal, teaching & supervision, enterprise, and mobility skills.

Check the illustration below to find out which ones you have and/or should develop. You can download the full report indexed in OpenAIRE (see citation below)

Ref: Weber, C. T. et al. (2018) Identifying and Documenting Transferable Skills and Competences to Enhance Early Career Researchers Employability and Competitiveness.  Brussels: European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers. doi:10.5281/zenodo.1299178


What transferable skills employers seek for?

♦ Flexibility

♦ Leadership Skills

♦ Organizational Skills

♦ Team Management

♦ Management Skills (including team management)

♦ Communication Skills

♦ Commercial Awareness

♦ Problem Solving Skills

♦ Time Management

♦ Ability to work in a team

♦ Motivation

♦ Creativity

♦ Resiliency

♦ Self Confidence (goes hand in hand with other TS; ability to know about your strengths and how to use them best)

♦ ... and many more....


Which transferable skills come with your doctoral research project? Or how to communicate your transferable skills to the non-academic world (including putative employers)?


These few examples will show you how many skills you will develop/have developed during your thesis, without even noticing.


Project and time management & organization skills

► Manage a (research) project from the very beginning to the end

► Set the goal(s) for your project

► Define milestones

► Plan your experiments (= tasks) to be finished in a realistic time frame

► Work effectively under pressure to meet deadlines


Flexibility and creativity

► Quickly adapt to new circumstances

► Find solutions to problems

► Prioritize tasks depending on certain circumstances

► Break new ground based on the development of new technologies

► Adapt to new environments (e.g. research stays abroad)

► Plan your working hours flexible and depending on tasks

► Willing to travel (e.g. conferences, summer schools)


Communication skills (Written and Oral)

► Presentations and discussions at group meetings and conferences

► Public speaking

► Writing of concise reports/manuscripts/papers/grant proposals

► Explain complex concepts in simple terms

► Discuss your findings with colleagues

► Inspire others with your ideas

► Deal with criticism in an appropriate and constructive manner

► Defend your findings

► Listen to ideas of others

► Deal with conflicts

► Visualize your findings in an attractive manner (e.g. posters, slide templates…)

Leadership skills and team management

► Develop a vision of what you want to achieve with your project

► See the big-picture without being distracted by minor details

► Work very effective with limited supervision – “controlling your project on your own”

► Instruct others to handle tasks

► Teach and train bachelor or master students

► Motivate and encourage others

► Delegate work packages to others (e.g. bachelor students)

► Collaborate effectively with others in and outside of your lab



Use this self-assessment tool to define your strengths and weaknesses

There is a free and easy-to-use online self-assessment tool from “Science: myIDP = individual development plan”