Career Development Profiles Online: Promoting Yourself and Your Research

Curriculum vitae  concept in word tag cloud

Social media networks are not just for chatting to friends and sharing holiday photo’s and more specifically, professional networking sites such as LinkedIN are not just for the business sector. Whilst this post doesn’t aim to be an advert for LinkedIN, it is worth considering as a platform to take some control of your online presence and support career development opportunities. If you’re in the middle of a research project recruitment may not be at the top of your priority list, but (as noted in last month’s post about networking and collaboration) working on your profile now bring benefits in the future – short or longer term.

LinkedIN was initially focused on networking in the business world but university staff have really seen the value and possibilities on offer in an increasingly competitive HE sector. You may be surprised to note that the biggest growing group currently joining LinkedIN are students and recent graduates: with over 30 million profiles added. A big draw for this community is recruitment.

Even if you’re only speculatively looking for the next step – either inside or outside academia, an online profile (external to your institution) is useful and potentially more adaptable or user-friendly than a CV. Don’t miss out – online recruitment is increasingly big business and LinkedIN has a built-in recruiter application. Recruiter tools are used by agencies to pick up who has set up 100% of their profile and review entries for ‘persons of interest’ against the recruitment needs of organisations and head hunters.

Your profile can highlight not only your skills and experience but also be a vehicle for spelling out your aspirations. ‘Recommendations’ should not be seen as job references but are good modern day testimonials.

If you are looking for a new job and reach the interview stage, LinkedIN may be used by BOTH parties in the interview decision process. Employers and universities can and do look for LinkedIN profiles before an interview to gain a broader perspective about a candidate. Equally, in the immediate run up to an interview, ‘follow’ the company or institution to become aware of what is high profile and current – it may be on the agenda, or at least worth referencing during your interview.

To set up your own profile visit: https://www.linkedin.com/

Researchers taking control of their own development

I’d like to introduce myself to start this month’s blog post.  I’m Lisa Lavender, based at the University of Warwick and I’ll be Vitae Midlands Hub Manager until October, covering for Kate whilst she is on maternity leave.  One of my first activities in post was to attend the Vitae South West and Wales Hub Annual Good Practice Conference, which was held in the wonderful Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay on 12 March 2014.  I hope to draw out some of the highlights and useful links in this article.

This long-standing conference has been running for over a decade now, offering an interesting mix of talks and workshops reflecting on key issues in UK researcher development.  This year the Concordat theme of ‘researchers taking control of their own development’ ran through many of the sessions.

Presentations from the day can now be found at: https://www.vitae.ac.uk/events/vitae-sww-hub-annual-good-practice-conference-2014/presentations

The keynote talk was given by Professor Michelle Ryan, University of Exeter, on ‘Uncovering the Glass Cliff’ Michelle examined the precariousness of women’s leadership positions – what do they face when they’ve broken through the glass ceiling?  The discussion centred on women in FTSE 100 companies, where it has been suggested that women in high positions on a board leads to a reduction in the company’s performance.  Michelle’s research found that women are often put on boards when performance is bad – the glass cliff – with almost an expectation of ‘challenge’ at best, failure at worst.  Women may be preferentially selected for challenging rather than maintenance, established roles because they are seen to be good in a crisis or because they and their careers are more expendable.  Whilst Michelle’s research suggests the former, the important thing to note is that it is not just the quantity of women given senior positions that is low, but also the quality of those positions is low.

Later in the day Karen Cooke from Cardiff’s ENFYS was inspiring and enthusiastic in her talk about the role of staff networks and how they can benefit both the members of the network and the HEI.  Linking your network to aspects of the university strategy and securing buy in from senior leadership is the key to success.  The resulting funding and exposure can facilitate the outputs that benefit the network … success, awards and publicity are excellent payback for the institution’s leadership.

ENFYS (Welsh for rainbow) is the LGBT+ Staff and Postgraduate Student Network at Cardiff University.  Take a look at their huge range of activities at: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/govrn/cocom/equalityanddiversity/sexualorientation/lgbtstaffnetwork/lgbt-staff-network.html

Speak Up, Speak Clearly – how Research Staff Associations can make a difference. 

Using the RSA’s at Bristol and Exeter as case studies, this workshop started with the important, but often ignored point that active involvement in a staff association is NOT about being a researcher who doesn’t want to do research!   An active RSA can provide useful career development training and opportunities for long term benefit of the researcher beyond their pure research practice AND be a focal point for key institutional stakeholders to engage with researchers.  The message is – get yourself noticed.

The Midlands RSA is now a sizeable community and we are currently putting together an event for later in the summer around career development and networking.  If you’d like to get involved or find out more please email:  midlandshub@vitae.ac.uk .  UKRSA have produced three useful guides about RSA’s which can all be found at https://www.vitae.ac.uk/communities/uk-research-staff-association/ukrsa-projects-and-publications :

  • A Guide to Research Staff Associations
  • Understanding Research Staff Associations and their impact
  • How will getting involved with a research staff association benefit you?

Supporting Researchers with Equality and Diversity Issues was an interactive session led by Tracy Stead.  Vitae’s ‘Every Researcher Counts’ material was designed to help PI’s recognise and support E&D needs amongst the researchers they manage.  Tracy’s current project aims to offer institutions more possible uses of the existing resources and widen the perspective to all research staff.  The package will be more clearly modularised, making it easy to pull out specific resources and case studies.  We look forward to more resources coming online later in the year, but take a look at what Vitae currently offers on Every Researcher Counts at: https://www.vitae.ac.uk/doing-research/every-researcher-counts-equality-and-diversity-in-researcher-careers

Going Solo – The theory behind self employment

Opportunity

Earlier this month I wrote about the potential benefits of self employment. Now I will consider the theory behind why completing a PhD or being post-doc or Early Career Research puts you in a great position to take the next step to going it alone.

How many of you would say you have expertise in any of the following areas?

  • Analysing
  • Synthesising
  • Critical Thinking
  • Evaluating
  • Problem Solving
  • Inquiring Mind
  • Innovation
  • Enthusiasm
  • Perseverance
  • Self confidence
  • Self reflection
  • Preparation and prioritisation
  • Responsiveness to change
  • Responsiveness to opportunities
  • Networking
  • Income and funding generation
  • Project planning and delivery
  • Risk Management
  • Ethics, principles and sustainability
  • Legal requirements
  • IPR and copyright
  • Society and culture
  • Enterprise
  • Communication methods
  • Team working
  • People Management
  • Influence and leadership
  • Collaboration 

In a recent article from entrepreneur.com Stephen Key lists 5 qualities of successful entrepreneurs. I have mapped Stephen’s advice to the enterprise lens of the RDF and found all of the highlighted attributes are covered in his qualities

1. An unwavering passion. Being an entrepreneur demands commitment and dedication — more than most jobs do, I’d argue.

The Enterprise Lens highlights these attributes

  • Enthusiasm
  • Perseverance

 2. Open-mindedness. The most successful entrepreneurs never forget how much they can learn from others. They ask for advice. They’re flexible. They soak up the best practices around them like a sponge.

The Entrprise Lens highlights these attributes as

  •  Analysing
  • Synthesising
  • Critical Thinking
  • Evaluating
  • Problem Solving
  • Inquiring Mind
  • Innovation
  • Responsiveness to change
  • Responsiveness to opportunities
  • Networking
  • Collaboration 

3. The desire to be an expert. Entrepreneurs like a challenge, but as exciting as it is to consider a new field, high-achieving entrepreneurs know the benefits of staying in the same industry for a while are immense. Learn an industry’s  history. Knowing what’s been done before can help you identify how it can and should move forward. In the meantime, you’ll build a network of relationships to support you in future endeavors, especially when times are lean. Those relationships are invaluable.

The Entrprise Lens highlights these attributes as

  • Society and culture
  • Enterprise
  • Team working
  • People Management
  • Influence and leadership
  • Networking
  • Collaboration 
  • Analysing
  • Synthesising
  • Critical Thinking
  • Evaluating
  • Problem Solving
  • Legal requirements
  •  IPR and copyright
  • Communication methods
  • Income and funding generation

 4. A forward-looking approach. Successful entrepreneurs are always thinking ahead. They may stray from their roadmap, and that’s okay, but they have one in mind. Having a clearly established set of goals will keep you from getting stuck. Your goals may be constantly evolving, but if you don’t know where you want to go, chances are, you won’t get anywhere

The Entrprise Lens highlights these attributes as:

  • Project planning and delivery
  • Risk Management
  • Ethics, principles and sustainability

 5. A constant flow of ideas. Having one project that’s doing well is great. But the successful entrepreneurs I know don’t rest on their laurels. Instead, they’re constantly asking themselves, “What’s next?” They understand that being a successful entrepreneur is a lifestyle choice, not a destination.

The Entrprise Lens highlights these attributes as

  • Evaluating
  • Problem Solving
  • Inquiring Mind
  • Innovation

 Taken and edited from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227776

If this has inspired you to think more about self employment or entrepreneurship why not have a look at What do researchers do? Career Profiles of doctoral entrepreneurs

The most important things you should know about Research Staff Associations (RSAs)

Image

Vitae recently organised their annual Research Staff Conference. This year the event drew researchers from across the world! We heard from those who had carved out a career in academia and from those who had moved out in to research related opportunities in senior government roles. The Midlands Hub was involved in running a discussion based workshop on Research Staff Associations.  

The Midlands Hub Manager was joined by a panel of researchers actively involved in running local RSA and also involved in the UKRSA (Alex Tarr, Midlands Research Staff Association Chair; Rebecca Elvey, University of Manchester; Patrick Hadoke University of Edinburgh)

So, what are the most important things I should know about RSAs?

There are many benefits for members and for organising committees of RSAs, these include

    • Networking and finding people to work, discuss and collaborate with from outside of you department/school
    • Potential interdisciplinary opportunities
    • Professional Development opportunities
    • Opportunity to find a formal or informal research mentor
    • Ability to take control of your own future
    • Being involved in a grassroots organisation
    • Being involved in an association that has access to senior committees and members of staff at university management level
    • A greater understanding of formal committees and how to change things through a committee organisational structure
    • Develop skills in event organisations, networking, budget management, people management and striking the balance between work/other work/ home life

These benefits seem great I hear to say, so how do I get a RSA started at my university?

The overwhelming piece of advice was to start small (or at least not worry if you start small!) then it was important to:

    • Find out the issues and identify topics that will engage research staff
    • Invite members to suggest areas and themes for the RSA
    • Find a dedicated group of ‘doers’ to help push things forward – but don’t ask them to do everything, rotate their roles
    • Bring people together to talk about their issues but always remember to advise that an RSA is not a HR union or counseling service – signpost to other departments and organisation that offer this support
    • Make the benefits clear to members to encourage them to promote the RSA in their departments and networks
    • ‘Sell’ the benefits of committee members to encourage them to remain and recruit new members
    • Remember that an RSA is a communities, therefore, it should not take over just one persons life – share the responsibility with other community members

 

Some helpful organisations and places to find further information

UKRSA

www.ukrsa.org

A Guide to Research Staff Associations

http://www.vitae.ac.uk/CMS/files/upload/UKRSA_Guide2010_Dec13.pdf

Midlands Research Staff Association

http://www.vitae.ac.uk/policy-practice/596901/Midlands-Research-Staff-Association.html