An ongoing series in which we identify your transferable skills. Today’s edition: communicating complicated things clearly. This is one of the strongest transferable skills that any academic has. For years, you have worked at and honed your ability to understand and communicate extremely complicated ideas, concepts, and subjects. In article-length form, in lectures, in manuscript-length forms, in concise abstracts for conference presentations, and maybe even in tweets. This is an advanced communication skill that you can and should list on your resume, demonstrate through your cover letter, and provide examples of during job interviews. Some academics feel they don’t have this skill, but I promise you do.
I saw this story from Southern Illinois University Carbondale this morning, about recruiting “volunteers” to adjunct for them. Um, whut? “Qualified alumni would not teach entire courses, but might deliver an individual lecture, lead a seminar discussion, mentor students or contribute to thesis committees.” Um. Again, what?
When you work in an academic line of work, at some point, you may find yourself facing credential regret. Credential regret is the career form of opportunity cost (an economic concept in which making one choice prevents the gain you could have gotten from selecting another alternative). Credential regret is that sinking feeling that your time spent pursuing a Ph.D. or J.D. would have been gotten you farther along in your current career by simply working instead, putting in time on the job. You would be farther along – professionally, and even financially – had you used that time to simply climb the ranks in your current job family from the get go. I would love to be able to tell you that your conclusion is probably incorrect, but the reality is that most employers – even higher ed employers – usually place greater value on the length and nature of work experience than on advanced degrees. Here are 2 points to help you understand credential regret.