As a postdoc, you get many opportunities to develop yourself and your career. Your position involves learning constantly about your research area and building both your subject-specific skills and your transferable skills.
Transferable skills (sometimes referred to as "soft" skills) are, as their name indicate, skills that are valued and can be applied in other roles and sectors. You often don't realise you have them and forget to develop them! They include communication, team work, leadership, management etc.
These skills are the ones that you will need the most to progress in your career, so don't neglect them.
There are two main ways to develop your skills: learn and do. You can learn by attending lectures, workshops, online training and generally raising your awareness of a specific topic. This is helpful and a good place to start, but it isn't sufficient. The most important is to take on opportunities to actually use these skills and develop them in a concrete manner. In addition to improve yourself via trial and error, "doing" enables you to build real-life experience that you can showcase on your CV to demonstrate your skills.
Do not forget that developing yourself is part of your role and that you are entitled to 10 days per year for activities related to your career development.
A range of frameworks categorise the skills of researchers and other professionals. Using them to reflect on your own skills can help you identify your strengths and areas you wish to develop further.
At the PDC, we are providing resources based on six general skills themes:
- Methodologies and practices
- Research dissemination
- Impact and partnerships
- Leadership and vision
- Teaching and supervision
- Career development
These themes are linked together and some resources are relevant to several of them. For example, communication skills are highly associated to research dissemination, but they also apply to teaching, leadership etc.
Other more detailed frameworks of interest are:
- The Researcher Development Framework from Vitae
- The Early Career Researcher Transferable Skills and Competencies from Eurodoc
- The NPA Core competencies from the US National Postdoc Association
- The Leadership and management framework from Queen's
Development resources by themes
Research integrity, ethics and data management; Core Technology Units; Literature and sources; IT skills
Publishing your research; Presenting at conferences; Public Engagement
Leadership at Queen's; Personal effectiveness (Self-leadership; project and time management); Developing research proposals; Engaging and volunteering
Classroom teaching; Supervision; Validating your experience: HEA Fellowships and Queen's Merit Award; Continual development resources