Self-awareness helps ensure your career decisions are right for you. You can raise your self-awareness through:
- your own reflection and self-evaluation - to gain personal insight
- feedback - to gain insight from other people.
To increase your understanding of yourself and your life you can carry out a review or audit.This page provides links to a range of tools that will help you to think about your skills, values, abilities, personality, your past and current work experience and your life beyond work, including commitments, responsibilities, leisure interests, work-life balance, health and fitness. It also encourages you to look at the constraints that may hold back your career development.
Personal and career audit
- General review: To get an overview of where you are now, you could carry out a general personal review. Another possible approach is to try a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. These audits are intended to help identify your development needs and what further information you may need before making decisions about your career development.
- Skills audit: A skills audit will help you to think about the things that you are good at and those which need further development. The Vitae skills audit based on the Research Councils' Joint Skills Statement (a set of skills considered valuable for research work and careers) provides one useful tool. The Research career builder developed by Loughborough and Sheffield universities offers an alternative approach.
- Career priorities: Knowing what motivates you and gives you fulfilment guides you to the right choices for the future. Try the career priorities questionnaire.
- Constraints: Your self audit is not complete without considering what might stop you moving forward. Look at our Constraints tool to help you to evaluate this further.
- Feedback: Self-evaluation is only one side of the personal review. If possible, make the opportunity to get feedback from others about your skills and abilities. Many universities now offer formal reviews or appraisals to both postgraduate researchers and research staff. If they are available to you, take advantage of this opportunity to obtain feedback. Prepare by carrying out a personal audit beforehand and ask for feedback about specific skills. Informal feedback is also valuable and can come from your supervisor or line manager, your colleagues, friends or family.
When your personal audit is completed, you will have identified some potential areas for personal development. To ensure that you invest time in relevant development, you need to know where you are going (ie your long- and short-term career aims). Look at ‘Where do you want to be?' to discover the range of opportunities open to you.
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