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Career conversations

Understand the purpose, components and skills required in a conducting a career conversation.


A purposeful, powerful conversations to prompt discovery, change and growth. This is achieved by helping the staff member reflect on their motivations, aspirations, achievements and strengths, and to build on them to set clear goals that will help them find fulfilment at work and achieve their potential.

Skills and attitudes

The staff member should be prepared to develop a clear, evidence-based and self-aware sense of how they are doing with respect to:

a. Their own motivation and aspirations

b. The expectations of someone in their role

c. The context in their life, the department, discipline, University and beyond.

Their reviewer / mentor should be focused on the needs of the individual, including asking challenging questions, encouraging them to reflect on their actions, decisions, and behaviours.

Elements of a career conversation

A career conversation usually covers four aspects, that can be taken in any order and drawn together to set out a clear way forward.

Self awareness: How are you doing and how do you know?

Context: What's happening around you?

Values and aspirations: What is important to you?

Goals and plans: What tangible steps will you take now?

Conducting a career conversation

Heads of Department are responsible for establishing who will conduct career conversations in their Department. They can be at any time of year; Faculties will normally determine the timing so that it best fits their planning cycle.

Staff members should reflect on the four elements of career conversations before the meeting, and pass notes of their reflections to their mentor / reviewer in advance of the meeting.

Following the conversation, notes should be recorded in the record form and passed to the Department Co-ordinator / Line Manager to record in iTrent. Please note that recording in iTrent is used only to ensure the meeting took place, and to provide a secure store for the notes for the staff member to refer back to in the future.