Professional Development Guidebook

Professional Development Guidebook

Taking a Skills Inventory

Given that physics is one of the broadest scientific disciplines, in the course of receiving a physics degree most students develop expertise with a great variety of scientific instruments and techniques. These kinds of "hard skills" are what make physicists so attractive to employers in physics, engineering and computer science fields. Examples of these "hard skills" include:

  • Applied research
  • Technical problem solving
  • Programming
  • Advanced mathematics
  • Simulation and modeling
  • Design and development
  • Using specialized equipment
  • Quality control

At the same time, there are a host of "soft" skills which are used by physicists working in every sector—be it as a university professor, a research scientist at a company, or a staff scientist at a national lab. These "soft skills" include:

  • Writing concisely and accurately
  • Writing appropriately to your audience
  • Managing/leading groups of people
  • Managing projects
  • Planning for and obtaining necessary resources (e.g. funding)
  • Working on a team

These are skills which are at the core of success in any field you decide to pursue, and they are the skills you should be actively cultivating as you move through your educational career.

Your Secret Weapon:  A Career Journal

As a part of your self-assessment process, take time to inventory all of the possible skills and experiences you have acquired in your lifetime and don't leave anything out! Even experiences that don't seem relevant could someday give you an extra edge on a job application.

This step is vitally important because when the time comes for you to start writing a resume for an actual position, you will use these skills as building blocks to create a tailored picture of your expertise appropriate for that specific job. 

Transferable Skills
For more information on creating a skills inventory, watch this clip from Peter Fiske's webinar "Putting Your Science to Work."

Skills which Transfer to an Industrial Environment
Learn what specific skills Ph.D. graduate Megan Anzelc serve her in her current career at CNA insurance.