Understanding yourself

Woman sitting on a rockBefore researching possible career moves it is useful to spend time understanding yourself, including your capabilities, expertise and personal values. Being self-aware can help you to plan development and make career decisions that are right for you. It’s important to know what you want from your career, what gives you fulfilment and the type of environments or work cultures you will thrive in. This can help you to target the type of professional development opportunities that will benefit you the most.

Realise your talents

  • Think about significant points of achievement or challenge in your life to date
  • Why are they significant?
  • What have you learnt from them and how might they influence the type of career path you pursue?

Understand your personality type

Understanding your personality type can often provide the key to recognising why you have tendencies to act or react in a certain way and help identify the types of work environments you thrive in. There are a number of tools widely used including the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Access to such tools may be provided by your institution or careers service.

Understand your values and motivations

  • What are your values and motivations?
  • How far do they form the foundation of what you consider to be career success?
  • What elements would a job role need to include for you to feel satisfied at the end of a day’s work?

Audit your capabilities and expertise 

  • What do you consider to be your areas of expertise?
  • What skills and qualities do you possess as a result of your research, paid or voluntary work experience or hobbies?
  • Use the Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF)  to map your current capabilities, attributes and competencies
  • What capabilities or competencies are missing and how can you fill in the gaps?

Understand your learning style

Identifying the most effective way you learn can inform the type of training or development you could undertake in order to develop a particular capability. There are a number of tools which could help you to identify your own learning style such as the Learning Style Questionnaire (Honey and Mumford, 1982). Access to this questionnaire may be provided by your institution.