Stop and Take Stock

This page is aimed at early career researchers who want to reflect on their career progress to date and begin to develop an ongoing career strategy. Based on interactive Career Development Toolkit for Researchers (PDF, 437kB) this page offers you some general starting points and useful resources to help you to consider your career and plan your next steps. The toolkit goes one stage further and includes some useful exercises for you to engage with if you want to explore a stage in more depth.

‌Stopping and taking stock on a regular basis gives you the opportunity to take a step back and fully consider your career to date. Constantly working on one research contract, and trying to land the next one, gives little time to consider and act on your personal and career development needs and can be a powerful barrier to career development. It can feel somewhat self-indulgent to take time out to review your career but it is a necessary part of career management and has many uses:

  1. It can help to identify specific areas you need to focus on to progress an academic career.
  2. It can help you to assess future career opportunities within higher education or to consider career changes.
  3. It can provide useful information for career progress discussions as part of your Staff Review and Development discussions with your manager or mentor.
  4. It can provide useful information for job applications and interviews.‌

Vitae also has some useful resources to help you manage your career and plan your development. Their 'Career management for researchers' page contains tools to help you research career opportunities and consider how to raise your profile as a researcher. 

The following sections offer you some useful questions to ask yourself and activities you can do to help you consider your next steps whatever career you are aspiring to.

Reflect on your career to date

By considering how you make career decisions you may identify approaches that will be beneficial to repeat in the future.

Understand yourself

Knowing what you want from your career will help you focus on things you really value and consider how you gain more of them in current or future roles.

Review the skills you have

Recognising the skills you have acquired throughout your career may provide vital information for future decisions.

Make the most of staff review

The staff review and development conversation will enable you to think and reflect on progress and future plans with a person who can offer guidance.

Recommended Reading

These books are available for you to loan via the careers service, 5 Tyndall Avenue:

  • How to Get a Job You Love by John Lees
  • The Art of Building Windmills by Peter Hawkins
  • What Colour is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles

Online tools to help you consider your skills, interests and motivations: