A4: Audit your skills


A key element in your career choice and planning is understanding the skills you offer, want to use, want to develop or must develop in order to progress.
When we have been engrossed in a specific area of research for many years we often overlook the wide range of skills we have developed that are widely applicable in a range of employment outside academia.
A great source of inspiration to prompt you to think about the skills you have is Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework (RDF).
“The RDF has been created from empirical data, collected through interviewing researchers, to identify the characteristics of excellent researchers expressed in the RDF as ‘descriptors’. The descriptors are structured in four domains and twelve sub-domains, encompassing the knowledge, intellectual abilities, techniques and professional standards to do research, as well as the personal
qualities, knowledge and skills to work with others and ensure the wider impact of research. Each of the sixty-three descriptors contains between three to five phases, representing distinct stages of development or levels of performance within that descriptor.” Vitae 2011

The RDF has been further tailored to apply an ‘employability lens’ to the skills that researchers have. The employability lens highlights the skills, attributes and behaviours that are most desired by employers. This is well worth a look if you are considering moving out of academia – it will enable you to prioritise your skills development and marketing.

Case study quotes

The analytical skills I gained in research are regularly put to use as my job often involves piecing together varied information and views into a coherent story. However, I never use the subject-specific elements of my research and I have learnt to apply my analytical skills in different areas, for example dealing with the text of legislation rather than western blots. Other skills from research, like project and time management and being self-motivated, are crucial in policy as we usually juggle multiple projects and deadlines. I always enjoyed writing and get to use this regularly in policy. Many of our outputs are written documents, so this is a really important skill to have. Beth Thompson, Policy Advisor. Vitae Career Stories.

Back to A: Know yourself A5: Articulate your career vision

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