One Transferable Skill PhDs Should Know: Teamwork

According to the Job Outlook 2016 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), teamwork is the second most important factor organizations look for on a candidate’s resume after leadership. Therefore, if you do not know how to work in a group setting, your future career is in serious jeopardy. Teamwork should be one transferable skill PhDs  should seek to acquire. It should also be part of the strategy you use to present yourself to potential employers. It is essential that your teamwork skills are highlighted throughout the entire non-academic job search process. How do you do that? Show it off in every step of your interaction with an organization. Demonstrate your teamwork skills in the following ways:


  • In your resume.. It is very unlikely that you work completely alone, with absolutely no interaction with the outside world. Therefore, you have probably worked as part of a team. Show the hiring committee that you have worked in a team, with how many people, and the results that your team achieved.


  • In your cover letter. Provide as much as evidence as possible of your teamwork abilities. Choose relevant examples or highlight your skills by emphasizing the collaborative aspects of your work experience or academic projects.


  • During the interview. Most interviews have questions focused on an experience (successful or not) when you had to work in a team setting, including the role you played in the team dynamic. Before the interview, select recent examples of your collaboration with others and prepare an outline to provide your interviewers with specifics.


Due to the nature of scholarly work, academics and researchers may have weak teamwork skills. However, if you played on a sports team or in a band or if you have been an active member of a committee, club, or political or religious organization in the past, make sure these activities are clearly visible to prospective employers. If you struggle finding evidence of teamwork in your employment history, move out of your introvert/loner mode and seek opportunities to enhance your collaborative credentials outside academia. It is time for you to step out and look for opportunities to add teamwork skills to your profile. For example, volunteer for a good cause, get involved in charitable organizations, take on a hobby or sport, or follow groups related to your personal convictions (e.g., ethnic, religious, and/or political organizations). Seek opportunities to demonstrate that you play well with others.


Keep in mind that late is better than never. Teamwork is one of the most important transferable skill PhDs should possess. So, what are you waiting for? Get out, reach out, and join a team. You will feel invigorated by the human interaction, take an active step toward securing the non-academic job of your dreams, and show the world you deserve a special place in it!


Need help getting your job search material ready? It all starts with your resume. Learn how to write the perfect resume by downloading our free Quick Resume Writing Guide 



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1 Comment
  • Clara

    December 15, 2017 at 9:28 am Reply

    Interesting article. I admit I have been struggling to find ways to engage with other people, especially now that I am at the writing stage of my dissertation.

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