Transferable Skills Talk: Communicating Complicated Concepts

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.

You might study one particular pine needle, but your academic training required you to contextualize your pine needle in the forest (and the forest’s larger ecosystem, and that ecosystem’s biome, and so on). Okay, so maybe not all of us are as innately talented at explaining our work clearly to a variety of audiences as these scholars in neurology, music, and biology but that doesn’t mean you don’t have an incredibly valuable and sought-after skill.

Many lines of work will require this skill, so do not fail to highlight this skill on your resume. If you go into research administration, you’re going to need to explain complicated research regulations and procedures clearly to faculty. Working in academic advising? You have to help students understand prerequisites, financial aid, scholarships, and study abroad procedures. Looking at a job in a nonprofit? One of your strengths will be your ability to articulate the value of their programs, because you can articulate the value of [your niche subject here].

No matter what job you are applying for, don’t be dismissive of this skill; list it on your resume as “effective written communication skills,” “strong public speaking skills,” or the like. Drop us a comment below about how you’ve managed to market this transferable skill.

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