Career development skills

Deakin Research provides many resources to assist in developing skills required for research degrees. The skills developed during your degrees will set you up for your future career.

It is important to identify the skills that you already have and also the skills you develop from your research. Employability skills include generic skills and personal attributes and are developed during your degree, through work experience and by participating in extra-curricular activities.

Employers are interested in your activities, but more so in the process of you recognising when and how you acquire the skill and what you have learnt from it.

Skills and personal attributes employers look for:

Generic skills


This skill includes written, verbal and visual communication.  You can develop this through:

  • Essay, report writing, thesis writing, publishing papers
  • Oral presentations, teaching, presenting papers, interviewing
  • Debating


Group working skills are highly valued as they include people working cooperatively towards common goals, negotiating and listening to other team members. You can develop this through:

  • Laboratory work
  • Field work
  • Group projects
  • Sport
  • Your employment

Problem solving:

Being creative and thinking of possible solutions to problems. Thinking big picture, and breaking the problem down into achievable smaller tasks. You can develop this through:

  • Field work
  • Problem based learning
  • Setting goals for yourself and how to achieve them

Planning and organisation:

Managing time and setting goals. Allocating resources and people to task within timeframes. Using your initiative and thinking of contingencies. You can develop this through:

  • Researching a topic
  • Managing workload

Self management:

Involves taking responsibility for your own learning and reflecting on feedback given to improve the work in the future. Gather, process and use information. You can develop this through:

  • Supervisor feedback
  • Time and task management


The ability to apply basic IT skills to different software programs. Use technology to present or sort information. You can develop this through:

  • Using spreadsheets, email, internet or word processing
  • Online study


Applying existing and newly acquired knowledge to new situations. Being adaptable and receptive to new learning situations. Contribute to a learning community. You can develop this through:

  • Professional development activities such as courses and conferences
  • Writing publications for industry and academic journals

Generic personal attributes

  • Enthusiasm
  • Reliability
  • Humour
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to handle pressure

Research based skills

A career in research will require the following skills:


Identifying resources, performing experiments, collecting data


Analysis of data, breaking problems down into manageable units


The ability to learn quickly and grasp new concepts


Articulating ideas, peer group discussion, supporting your position with logic

Research based personal attributes


A capacity for sheer hard work in the face of difficulties


The ability to maintain your commitment to a project despite future uncertainty


Regularly taking on different projects and roles through your career


Working without supervision to your own timetable

Developing these important skills:

Make the most of your time at Deakin

University can also provide great opportunities for self development that will literally pay off. Employers seek students who get involved in extra-curricular activities that showcase their interests and strengths and which add real value to their academic studies.

How will you get involved?


  • Become part of the crew at DUSA, Deakin University Students Association, and improve your public speaking skills when assisting in hosting events.
  • Become a DUSA student representative and put your organisational and leadership skills to use by organising events and addressing advocacy issues for students
  • Volunteering at other community based organisations


Be a team player who plays collaboratively, sets goals, thinks strategically and keeps fit. You may even get to represent Deakin at the Southern University Games and the Australian University Games. See the DUSA website for more information about university sport.


Jobshop has vacancies listed for part time, casual, full time and tutoring positions which can introduce you to the world of work. If you need assistance with creating a resume then attend one of the resume workshops at Careers and Employment.

Deakin Alumni - career and information interviewing mentoring program (CIIMS)

CIIMS allows final year undergraduate and all postgraduate students to connect with members of the alumni for the purposes of career development and information in order to help improve graduate employment outcomes.

Student societies:

Joining a student society related to your course can be a great networking opportunity. Meet with people who have similar interests to you, get to know the employers in your field and access opportunities available for work experience.

Examples of relevant societies:

  • Deakin Uni Sport Studies Club (DUSSC)
  • Physical Education Student Society (PESS)
  • Food and Nutrition Science Students (FANS)
  • Deakin Promoting Health Network (DPHN)

Information about all of these student societies is available on the Deakin University Student Association DUSA website.

Duke of Edinburgh Awards:

Attain the internationally recognised Duke of Edinburgh Award (Gold level available) whilst at Deakin. The award provides opportunities to set goals, undergo personal development, pursue your interests and gain a range of practical skills.

Recording skills development

You need to start preparing for your career early, don't leave it until after you've submitted your thesis.

Deakin careers website

Keep a record of your skill development (which means what you did, where you did it, when you did it and how it was developed) to refer to in your resume, covering letter or job interviews.

Register with Jobshop and Career Hub and use My Profile to record your achievements and skill development.

For help with resumes go to resume builder.

For help with covering letter go to career guides and resources.

Career advice

Find more about DeakinTALENT programs and services to explore your career interests, skills and employment opportunities to find your ideal graduate role.

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