Developing myself for my next role
Learn the skills you need for the next step in your career
Preparing for a career move requires careful planning. Don’t leave it to fate – with the steps below you can create a development plan that will help you identify your options and take the next steps in your career. Remember that your PDR is a great place to start a career conversation.
To identify your strengths points, start with the selection criteria for your current role. They define the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for your job. Make a list of the skills you have and highlight the areas where you think you make a contribution.
Ask a critical friend what you do well and what they value in you. Request feedback on what you could change.
Review your last PDR and the objectives that are listed. Think about what they tell you about your strengths and where you can improve.
Ask your manager and/or your network for feedback.
Find potential areas for improvement: Where do you feel you could be more confident, skilled or knowledgeable? Identify situations and tasks you find challenging and where you would like to enhance your skills for a future role.
Make a list of what you find inspiring in your professional as well as your personal life. Think about what motivates and enthuses you. In what kind of role or environment do you think you would flourish?
Define what is most important to you, and think about how your values have led you to define your boundaries and shaped your career so far. What matters most to you about your future role? These could be more responsibility, work-life balance, change of direction or a job that is better suited to your strengths.
Oxford’s Career Weaver can help you explore these questions. It provides a variety of short exercises to help you identify your values and work preferences, name your strengths, identify your skills and understand your motivations at work.
Now that you have assessed your strengths, it is time to review your options. There may be more than you think. These steps will help you consider the possibilities.
1. Set your priorities
Ask yourself what you would like your job or career to give you now and in 1- or 5-years’ time (or another timeframe - the choice is yours). Consider aspects like personal satisfaction, challenges, reputation, and monetary reward.
2. Find roles that interest you
Start looking at possible roles and collect adverts for jobs that appeal to you. Save the role description and the selection criteria for those jobs. You can look at
- the University’s jobs site
- general job boards like jobs.ac.uk
- social networks like LinkedIn
If you don’t know where to start, ask a critical friend, your network, your manager or mentor to help you consider options.
Talk to people who know about the roles that interest you. Ask them about what the role involves and the routes others have taken to get where they are. You may be able to find these people through your network. Reach out to your friends and colleagues and ask if they can put you in touch with someone who can help.
3. Do a gap analysis
Match your strengths and your skills against the requirements of the roles you are considering. Identify any gaps in your skill set.
Don’t be put off by gaps. Think widely about your experience. Draw on previous roles and voluntary or social experience that could demonstrate that you match the role. Remember an excellent match on all the essential criteria may not be necessary. In many instances, good enough will do. You may even use the scope for learning and personal development as evidence for your motivation.
Writing down a detailed plan makes it more likely that you will achieve your goal. Here is a list of steps to follow when you are creating your plan:
- Set out your career goal by choosing one of the options you have identified.
- Reflect on your conversations with critical friends, your manager or mentor. What potential routes did you discuss that might help you reach your goal? These can be
- applying for vacancies or secondments
- informal secondment opportunities
- opportunities to take on a new responsibility within your current role to give you vital experience
- work shadowing opportunities to help you decide what you want to do next
- self-directed learning
- Decide which of these is most likely to help you reach your goal.
Look for support to help you put your plan into action. Here are some options:
- use the Careers Service’s advice on Employability Skills, and the skills exercises in Career Weaver to identify development objectives and make a plan
- ask a critical friend, your network, your manager or your mentor to help you work out how to put your plan into action
One to one support
- use the Careers Support Network (ask to be matched with a mentor who is an experienced recruiter in the University for help with applications and interviews)
- ask to be matched with a volunteer coach to support your thinking and planning process
- find your own mentor
Places on a programme
- check the Beacon personal development programme (open to all staff)
- consider the Oxford Women’s Development Programme (open to women at all levels)
- if you are a researcher, consider the support available to you in your division
- consider the Oxford Senior Women's Mentoring Network, (open to women at G9 and above)
- consider the PIVOT mentoring scheme for BAME staff
Many of us will spend more time in a year planning a holiday than we do planning our career.
Here are some tips to help you put your plan into action:
- Choose your first step, decide when you will take it and block out time to do it.
- Take your first step.
- Block out time in your diary to monitor how you are progressing against your goals and plans.
- Some of us are more likely to prioritise this kind of activity if we do it with others. If this works best for you, book a meeting with a friend, a colleague, or a coach to reflect on progress made and next steps.
- Ask yourself what you have learned from what you have done so far. Seek feedback on any unsuccessful applications and interviews or from any shadowing/informal secondments that don’t deliver what you are aiming for.
- What changes do you see in yourself as you seek and take new opportunities? What are you learning about your strengths and your resilience?
- Does your plan need to be adjusted? Perhaps you realise that you could have been more precise in identifying your career goal. Or that you need to stay in your current role for a while longer to consolidate your skills. If so, make that change to your plan. There will be little value in proceeding with a plan that is not taking you in the right direction.
- Reassess your situation as you strengthen your skills, network and awareness. Adapt your career plan as you learn and progress.