Do not miss the opportunity to learn from your experience. When your development activities are complete, it is tempting to rush on to the next idea. Take some time to review, reflect and record your learning in preparation for the next cycle of development.
We look at career management habits that support your continuing professional development:
- reviewing and reflecting
- getting feedback from others
- recording your evidence
- surveying your career horizons - using your research skills and networking
- planning relevant personal development.
Establishing good career management habits
Reviewing and reflecting
When reviewing your development activity, consider what you have done and what you have learned in the process. What did you do well, what went not so well? What you would change/do differently next time? What could you do to learn more? Use the same approach as you would use when reviewing your research project. See Developing as a researcher.
Getting feedback from others
To complete your review, try to find someone (inside or outside your institution) who has observed your development activity and is willing to give you feedback.
Recording your evidence
Keep organised records of your continuing professional development. A portfolio of documented evidence is a resource for your CV, job applications and promotions. Unless they are written down you will not remember the details when you really need them.
Record your evidence in a way that is accessible: an electronic file, a career journal, a loose leaf file or even a large envelope. Something easy to locate when you need the information. Your university may have a ready-formatted personal development profile tool that you can use and several of the career management texts in Help and support suggest formats for recording your development.
At the very least, for each development activity, whether attending a conference or short course, learning a new research technique or getting a new job, record the following information:
- what you did
- why you did it
- what you learned - how you would do things next time for next time
- how you will use it
- what further action or development you will undertake as a result.
Surveying your career horizons
Effective career management requires you not only to reflect on and learn from experience, but also to be alert to opportunities. This does not mean saying ‘yes' to everything. It means the ability to filter out things that won't add much value to your development. Use networking and your research skills to seek information so that you can make judgements about the potential of opportunities. Build your networks and keep in touch with key individuals to ensure that you have a ready source of advice when you need it.
Planning relevant continuing personal development
When you have identified a suitable opportunity for development, begin the career development cycle again. Plan a new programme of development, making time for it around other commitments by setting time aside in your diary. Ensure the skills you are developing are relevant to your long-term goal (whether this is to become better at your current job, be ready for the next vertical move or prepare to move to another type of work). Look at How will you get there? for tips on career planning.
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