Why focus on professional development?

As a researcher you are already committed to enquiry through your research. Professional development extends this process to your own skills, understanding, aptitudes and ambitions. Development as a professional involves more than building your research profile and research skills. Broader professional development is becoming increasingly significant as employers look for researchers who can ‘add value’ to their organisations.

A competitive edge

Competition for posts and use of short-term contracts mean that researchers, along with other professionals, have to be flexible and adaptable about what they can do. Focusing on your professional development can help you to:

  • Get the most from your current role or studies
  • Create a stronger profile for applications, whether for funding, promotion or a new post

More choice

You may be planning to pursue a career in academia or considering diversifying into other fields or employment sectors. You may want to keep open several career options. Time spent thinking about your own values, strengths and areas to develop is time well spent as well as being informed about the requirements of different careers. The Vitae website provides information about researcher careers including:

Taking a strategic approach

Being a successful researcher requires you to think strategically about your objectives, skills and areas to develop. Training Needs Analysis and Personal Development Planning are an opportunity to identify your areas of expertise and development needs. A strategic approach is based on thorough self-awareness and knowledge of career options. These include career structures, types of work, recruitment methods, and what support, training and development is available.

If professional development planning is new to you, try working through our online course: PDP ROC.

The Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) is a professional development resource designed by researchers for researchers. It can help you identify the skills and experience you need to acquire and to chart your professional development progress. Vitae has developed the RDF Planner, an online application, based on the RDF,  to help you identify your strengths and areas to develop, and to plan and manage your professional development.

See how other researchers have used the RDF to plan their professional development.