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Career planning cycle for researchers

Find out about a common model for career management


This is a cyclical model and so each step will inform the next; it also means that you may not always wish to start in the same place. It is a good idea to start with 'assess and review', but you may find that you don't need to complete all the stages each time.

Assess and review

  • Assess yourself and what's important to you.
  • Which parts of your job/research project do you like/dislike? Think skills as well as techniques.
  • What motivates you?
  • What limits your choices?

Don't be tempted to miss out this stage. It can be very enlightening and can give you pointers to what sort of direction you want to pursue.


This stage should come more easily - after all, it's what you're used to doing!

  • Research career options satisfying your requirements.
  • Identify an area that will use your skills and experiences.

This could include talking to people you know that do these jobs (debunking myths and fact finding), or searching databases of occupational information.

Set goals

This stage will take time, especially if you are contemplating a big change. Set short-term goals to ensure you progress, for example, book onto a training course, learn a new technique, write a grant proposal.

Take action

The practical part. As in the stage above, it will take time if you have identified many goals. It may include: attending training courses, producing CVs, networking, applying for jobs.

For some resources to help you in this process, see our key career resources for researchers.

Other pages for researchers