Getting Started


A successful careers strategy is one that combines self assessment with opportunity awareness; gathering the right knowledge to make an informed decision. Investing time at this stage will help you find a fulfilling career and will help you sell yourself to future employers.

Sources of help and information on making career decisions include:

Exploring information about what is possible and deciding what to do are both part of the same process. Don't worry if you don't feel committed to one direction yet, career decisions take time and research to evolve. The important thing is to start finding out about what is out there to help the process along.

The career planning process remains the same whether you have no idea, a few ideas or are very focused about what you want to do after your research degree. The process can be divided into 4 stages:

  • self assessment
  • opportunity awareness
  • decision making
  • taking action

Self Assessment

Identify your strengths. Identifying your skills, interests, values and personal qualities is very important. What skills do you have? Assess your skills by using the Vitae career planning section.

How might your interests affect your career choice? Maybe your area of research is your greatest interest and that's where you see yourself working. However, sometimes people have other interests, not related to their research which they'd like to incorporate into their career. Exploring career ideas leaflet.

Take some time to think about your personal qualities?

Personal qualities and attributes will determine how you approach life and work; are you a good team player or do you prefer more solitary pursuits? How would your friends and colleagues describe you? The Careers and Employability Service runs workshops for PhD students and Research Staff. You will need to complete the online questionnaire before the workshop. You can access a range of tests such as Personality, Learning Styles and Aptitude tests on our psychometric assessment pages for further information.

Opportunity Awareness

Be aware of what jobs are out there and what employers are looking for. Careers and Employability Consultants call this "Opportunity Awareness" - it's about researching all the different areas of work you may be interested in, and what employers are looking for. You should discuss things with a Careers and Employability Consultant if you have no idea and about exploring the range of options open to you.  Visit the vitae website

Decision Making

Match your strengths to the opportunities you have identified. You need to be able to articulate your reasons as to why your strengths, interests and motivations match well with the type of work you're applying for. At this stage you may need to weigh up the pros and cons of several possibilities. You can arrange to speak to an Adviser in the Careers and Employability Service to talk through your options at any time.   Download our Decision Making worksheet

Taking Action

This is the final process of career planning. It involves finding out about the employers that offer the types of jobs you are interested in. You can search TARGETconnect or/and view our job hunting resources.

Make applications. By submitting applications and attending interviews, you can find out more about the suitability of the options you are considering. Reading up about a particular career or employer is only part of the story - the selection process and a visit to the organisation can tell you a lot more.

Sometimes you may have to return to previous stages in the process, for example, if you are not able to get into your first choice career.

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
Portal Logon