Spotlight on the RDF: “Responsiveness to opportunities”

In the third of our occasional series of spotlights, we take a closer look at a specific descriptor from the RDF.

In this series of “Spotlight on…” posts, we’ll be delving into the detail of the descriptors in Vitae‘s Researcher Development Framework (RDF).  Each one of the sixty-three descriptors is a characteristic of an excellent researcher, and we’ll be looking at how UoB PGRs can develop these characteristics.

There’s a quote, which has been variously attributed to Oprah and Seneca, which goes something like this:

Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.

If you want to be “lucky” enough to get the job you want, you need to be prepared to respond to opportunities as and when they arise.  So your responsiveness to opportunities is very closely related to your preparedness.  What does it mean to be prepared to respond to opportunities?

The RDF puts responsiveness to opportunities in domain B (personal effectiveness) and sub-domain B3 (professional and career development) and the five phases of development for this descriptor are:

  1.  Demonstrates an insight into the transferable nature of research skills to other work environments and the range of career opportunities within and outside academia;  Understands and takes advantage of a broad range of employment and professional development opporutnities within and outside academia, including work experience and internships
  2. Seeks out appropriate opportunities to enhance employability and may gain international experience; has realistic and mature approach to job search including positions outside academia
  3. – 5. Recognises, creates and confidently acts on opportunities with the potential to develop own career within or outside academia;  Understands the complexity of the academic job market; able to advise others effectively and in a sensitive manner;  Actively creates and champions opportunities for others within and outside academia.  Is responsive to collaborative opportunities across disciplines/research areas and with non-academic organisations

The first thing to note is that the RDF is very clear that all researchers should be aware of a broad range of opportunities both within and outside academia.  Even if you think you know what career you are aiming for, a broad awareness can be helpful in clarifying your thoughts, forming a back-up plan or advising others.

So how can you prepare yourself to respond to career opportunities?

  • Identify skills and attributes that employers will find desirable in your chosen career, or if you’re not sure of your future career plans, identify skills and attributes which play to your strengths and align with your values.  The excellent “Transferable Skills for Postgraduate Researchers” workshop from the Careers Network can help with this – the next one is on 30th November, or view the full programme of events.
  • Engage in self-reflection to ensure you are aware of your strengths, and can recognise areas for improvement.
  • Write a development plan to ensure you will be able to demonstrate relevant skills and attributes to potential employers, and engage in the relevant development activities you have identified.
  • Keep a detailed record of your strengths and achievements so you can quickly put together evidence in response to an opportunity; you could do this by maintaining an up-to-date CV or Linkedin profile.

You never know when the perfect opportunity is going to arise for you.  Often, you will have only a short amount of time to respond.  The better prepared you are, the luckier you are likely to be!

How have you prepared for your future career?  Have you been lucky in securing a job?  If so, to what do you attribute this luck?

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Helen Kara

Writing and research

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