Academia-to-Industry Transitions: A Strategic Approach

 In Academic Clients

If you are an academic thinking of applying for roles in the corporate world, consider these 5 ideas when preparing your career documents. Whatever drives your choice to leave academia, you bring a wealth of experience and the soft skills that are essential for any healthy business. Focus on the resources you have and the value you can deliver in your new roles.

Increasing Confidence:

In any transition, the key factor is to sum up the strengths you are taking with you to the next step and strategize how you will apply them. To assess the full scope of your transferable skills, review your career history with target role requirements in mind, identify examples of skills that are closely related, and highlight these skills. Condense early roles that are not pertinent.

Targeting an Appropriate Level:

Starting at a lower level is a major misconception that comes up again and again in conversations with my clients. Unless you specifically want a lower-level role, you need to focus on your desired and/or optimal next place to be. Read job descriptions carefully, highlight key requirements, and assess your background to explain how you are the right match.

Showing Knowledge of the Target Industry and Employer:

Academics do not work in a vacuum, and you already have a particular level of understanding of your target (corporate) industry, its key players, and trends. Review your experience at conferences and professional association memberships, do some networking, attend webinars, and reflect on the past collaborative projects for examples of transferable achievements. Think of all the stakeholders and partners you interacted with outside of academia. Research target employers to have meaningful conversations about their needs and scope of work.

Understanding The Target Role:

Print out the job description, mark the top requirements, and identify additional important keywords. When preparing your career materials, strive to address all of these requirements with specific examples – qualify and quantify achievements and be precise about the outcomes of your work (positive student evaluations, publications, improvements to policies or programs, new teaching methods introduced, processes improved, costs saved, essential decisions initiated, etc.).

Following Up:

Once your applications are sent, identify and contact decision-makers to express your interest.


About the author:

Tanya Mykhaylychenko is a professional resume writer with a background in content writing, university teaching, and IT staffing. She is a member of Editors Canada and Career Professionals of Canada. For more information, please visit or contact her at to schedule a free introductory consultation.

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