The aim of this section is to help research staff develop their careers and reflect on the options that are available.
Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework is designed to help you on the way. It is a career development tool designed BY researchers FOR researchers, to help you chart your progress and identify the skills and experience you need to acquire.
If you are considering a move into a permanent academic post such as a lectureship, you will find that experience of teaching, administration, entrepreneurship or knowledge transfer and supervising others will strengthen your CV.
If your aim is for a long-term career in research – whether in the academic, private or government sectors – you are likely to need experience in most of the above areas. You will also benefit from knowledge of funding opportunities and experience of professional networking.
If you are hoping for a career outside academia the experience you gain during your time as a researcher will be an invaluable preparation for your future career. The Researcher Development Framework’s Professional Development Planner can help you identify skills and aptitudes that you may not have realised you possess.
Remember that only around 10% of research staff will obtain a permanent academic contract, highly dependent on your discipline and subject. However, all researchers get benefits from their training and experience which make them excellent workers in a whole spectrum of different fields of employment.
Whatever your long-term ambitions, you may also find it useful to know something about your institution’s probation, mentoring and staff professional development procedures. Use these to help you plan your professional development and reflect on how to get where you want to be.
Where to get support
Planning and developing your career is largely down to you. However, there are a host of resources available in your workplace that can help you. In particular:
- your line manager can help you plan any training you need. If your goal is for a long-term academic career then your line manager is probably the person best placed to know what experience you will need to obtain to satisfy a university appointments panel. He or she should be your first port of call if you want to develop experience, for instance, in teaching, lecturing, supervising others or applying for research funding
- your Staff Development Unit can provide skills-based training and may also run courses for aspiring academics or those who want to apply for their own funding
- your Careers Service will have a wealth of material to help you explore the range of career options open to you. Many researchers assume that the Careers Service is only there for undergraduate students; in fact their resources are also available to staff. Many universities now have specialist careers advisors who offer support that is tailor-made for research staff
- if you belong to a professional society they may have their own Careers Service and offer either online resources or face-to-face interviews. Make use of these. Their expertise will be specific to your academic discipline and they will have the most up-to-date picture of the employment market for people with your skills and experience.
You will also find plenty of online help on the Vitae Careers website.
The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) booklet, “University Researchers and the Job Market” (2009) is a good starting-point to help you reflect on your skills and experience and consider your future options.
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