Using your research skills outside of academia

I was recently talking with a researcher about what kind of jobs outside academia might require specific research skills (like use of SPSS or data handling and analysis).

It seems that researchers (especially in the Humanities and Social Sciences) are a bit sceptical that research skills per se are valued outside of academia, and uncertain about whether they will have the opportunity to really use these skills if they decide to look for a career beyond HE or a Research Institute.

So it was with interest that I read a recent advert for posts at Mi5, which require, among ‘softer skills’ like thinking creatively and working under pressure, “an advanced knowledge of analytical software applications such as Excel, Access and SPSS [as well as] an understanding of how to identify data trends and patterns using a range of tools and techniques”. Interestingly, they’re also looking for people who are able to “[explain] complex information to non-technical audiences”, something which many researchers don’t get much chance to practice but which we at Manchester try to support researchers to do (through things like the Researcher Showcase, Researchers in Residence and the Beacon for Public Engagment).

Clearly then, although this job is not in academia, a think tank or a Research Institute, it’s easy to see how a researcher might fit the bill extremely well (especially in terms of the research skills required).

And P.S if you’re thinking of applying, you can find full details and application instructions at:


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