Getting to the Next Stage of your Career

Written by Vicki Tipton, Careers Consultant, King’s Careers & Employability 

‘How do I get to the next stage of my career?’: it’s a question every researcher will chew over at various points: In the middle of a technical role or during a post-doc; or perhaps more persistently! The answer, however, will vary hugely for everyone and here’s why:

1. The next stage will differ for each individual researcher – some may be focussed on a permanent academic position, that first lectureship. For others it might be about gaining an in-between step – perhaps another post-doc which moves you closer to the kind of work you’d like to be doing or gives you more research responsibility.  Equally it could be about considering a move into another sector outside of HE or a new type of role.  In any case, moving up is likely to mean moving into a new role. If you’re still unsure which direction to head in, then do come and see one of the Careers Consultants who work with research staff, here at King’s for a confidential, impartial chat.

2. Each person’s roadmap for progression looks different – in order to move into that next step, researchers need to be very clear about the kind of things that will get them there. If you’re looking to secure a lectureship then an honest look at your list of publications, ability to pull money into an HEI, your teaching credentials and your work as a member of the academic community is vital to establish whether you need to put some extra work in to make yourself stand out.  This Essential Guide to Moving Up the Academic Career Ladder from jobs.ac.uk is a good place to start with practical exercises to get you thinking about your own development.

If you’re thinking of leaving academia to find a more senior role, then you still need to know what you’d need to get there. From policy work to government to pharma, each industry has its own nuanced labour market and culture, so you’ll need to spend some time thinking about how you can transfer your skills into this setting and in some cases consider what else you could be doing to boost your CV for jobs in industry. For a post-doc’s story about his transition from the lab to editorial work, see Kyle’s video case study

3. Availability of promotion – there are some factors in job hunting which are governed by things out of our own control: the state of the economy, the competition for jobs, increase or reduction to funding streams.  It’s worth reading around your area of research/interest – be strategic and knowledgeable.  It helps to understand when and where jobs might crop up and how you will stand out as a candidate for promotion. What you do have control over however is your mindset and approach to moving up and on; stay positive and open in your thinking.