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Conducting an effective career conversation

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

The purpose of a career conversation

A career conversation is a purposeful, powerful conversation to prompt discovery, change and growth in your career. It's an alternative to the Staff Development Performance Review (SDPR). These conversations will help you reflect on your motivations, aspirations, achievements and strengths. And look at how you can build on them to set clear goals to help you achieve your potential and find fulfilment at work.

Skills and attitudes

You should be prepared to develop a clear, evidence-based and self-aware sense of how you doing with respect to:

  1. Your own motivation and aspirations.

  2. The expectations for you in your role.

  3. The context in your life, your department, discipline, the University and beyond.

Your reviewer or mentor will be focused on your needs, and will ask challenging questions, encouraging you to reflect on your actions, decisions, and behaviours.

Elements of a career conversation

A career conversation usually covers four aspects, which 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?


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

Line managers are responsible for ensuring their staff have a review meeting annually, either an SDPR or a career conversation.

In academic areas, Heads of Department are responsible for establishing who will conduct career conversations in their Department, and for ensuring they take place. They can take place at any time of year − faculties will normally determine the timing so that it best fits their planning cycle.

Before you have your meeting, you should reflect on the four elements of career conversations, and share notes of your reflections with your mentor or reviewer in advance of the meeting.

After your conversation, you record your notes in the record form and pass this to your Department Co-ordinator or Line Manager to record in iTrent. Please note, recording in iTrent is used only to document that the meeting took place and to provide a secure place for the notes, so you can refer back to them in the future.