Building Your Employability

This is a topic that often arises for discussion in the 1:1 Career Development. Researchers are keen to know what are their chances of succeeding in the job market that isn’t academia.

So how employable are researchers – the answer is widely employable! High level critical analysis, problem solving and tenacity are just a few of the skills that researchers are extremely well equipped with. Take a positive attitude and believe this to be true. You can look for examples of researchers working in other areas using Vitae, Prosper Portal and IAD website Career Conversations as a starting point. Dig deeper and use Twitter and Linked In as further sources of evidence to see the roles that ex-researchers are now working in. It happens often that researchers believe what they hear that there are “no interesting opportunities that match your skills and interests”. Take these comments with a pinch of salt, has the source of the comment actually done conclusive research into the current job market or are they parroting phrases that they too have heard being talked about.

So where does career anxiety come from? It usually begins once researchers become aware of the amount of competition for academic positions, which often goes hand in hand with wondering if they have enough to offer. This can often lead to concerns about managing to sustain an academic career (very much tied up with concerns around funding and how long this can be secured for). Perhaps it is a question of wanting a new challenge but not knowing how to find what’s out there or feeling paralysed because of concerns over salary and finances and thinking that you won’t secure a salary that matches your current one. Lastly, a hugely common concern is not having industry experience or even any experience outside of Higher Education.

So what can one do about these concerns? Take control and create an action plan:

Step 1 Identify what you are good at and what you enjoy doing. You can spend some time doing some self- reflective exercise (Skills Audit) but you can also ask other people what they think are your unique selling points.

Step 2 Be strategic with the use your time to broaden your skills – aim to plug those gaps on your CV (Research Careers Tool – a very useful personal Development Planning Tool)

Step 3 Research different career opportunities. Initially this might mean starting out with reading online case studies but the next step will be to make connections and link into different networks to gain an insight into what the work is like

Step 4 Take advantage of training and resources. IAD is the obvious place to start but there are other services within the University such as HR, Library and IS (Linked In learning).

Step 5 Use your PDR. You can prepare in advance (Career Conversations with your PI) and ensure you identify opportunities to develop over the coming months.

Step 6 Maintain a positive attitude and stay open to opportunities and possibilities.


Further Resources:

Building Employability Micro Workshop: Benchmarking

1:1 Career Development Consultation

10 days professional Development (Examples of what counts)

Gaining relevant work experience IAD webpages

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