Employer view of further study

Further study is not just for students who want to work in academia. A postgraduate qualification can enhance your career prospects and offer specialist skills and knowledge to employers. On average, 92% of our postgraduates enter a graduate role within 6 months of leaving university. Learn about what Birmingham postgraduates go on to do.

You should identify the skills you can offer as a postgraduate, and articulate your value to an employer. This will help you to stand out amongst other graduates in a recruitment process.

Christiane Iwersen

postgraduate Internship Project Coordinator with Graduate Advantage

“Some employers may not fully understand the difference between a graduate and a postgraduate … In your application, you have to tell them what these benefits are.”

Here are some examples of transferable skills that are valuable to employers regardless of your chosen subject area:

Problem-solving

Since postgraduates undertake complex independent projects, they encounter challenges and set-backs which develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

‘We solve complex problems for our clients; to do so, we need to understand and analyse those problems. That’s what postgraduates do every single day. They are confronted with problems for which the solutions are unknown, which develops skills that we make use of throughout their career.’ Adrian Clarke, Operations Manager, Tessella

Watch an interview with this employer where he describes the qualities of postgraduates:

Communication

Further study gives opportunities for collaboration and public-speaking since you may present at conferences, apply for research funding or work with people across multiple disciplines. You are able to give evidence of written and oral communication skills to employers.

‘…communicating complex theories to people who don’t come from that background: those are the great skills that a postgraduate can offer an employer like myself’  Lauren McCafferty, Student Recruitment Senior Manager, PwC

Specialist knowledge

Further study is the chance to delve deeper into your subject and become an expert in a particular area. This is very attractive for employers who are interested in fresh perspectives and up-to-date knowledge.

‘A postgraduate qualification means candidates are more specialist: we find that their passion for the subject matter is much stronger so they can be clearer on their career trajectory – this is what they want to do and they can get started straight away.’ Suzie Huggan, Talent Acquisition Partner for retail, Cancer Research UK

Research skills

Research is a key element of most postgraduate degrees, both research and taught courses. You may use a range of methodology and carry out literature reviews, data analysis and report writing.

‘…if you can show that you have undertaken research training, this means we can guarantee the standard of research that you could offer on the job. The advanced research methods usually found in a Masters dissertation or research training are in demand in our sector’. Mark Ewbank, Policy and Scrutiny Manager at Westminster City Council

Maturity and commitment

Further study shows that you are dedicated to your subject. Employers value the perseverance required to study something at an advanced level and the experience you offer compared to first degree graduates.

‘Often postgraduates are able to offer a level of maturity and experience to their answers and have very advanced skills within the role they are applying for e.g. software development or project management.’ Katherine Brewster, Regional University Relationship Manager, FDM Group

To find out more

Read the HECSU report on Taught Postgraduate employability (PDF - 502KB).

In 2015/16, 74% of postgraduate students were in UK employment, compared to 66% of first degree graduates.

Take a look at the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey data for graduate destinations.

Find out more about the value of Postgraduate degrees on FindAMasters.