Last week of term: time to take stock!

So, it’s coming to the end of a seemingly endless term. Only a few hours of teaching to go, only a few more meetings before the Christmas break. And even though we’re only having three weeks off,  family commitments will mean there’s not much time for in-depth research or writing,  but it’s still a useful amount of time with which to assess your career progress this year.

Many academics in permanent jobs will be part of a personal development review system, where they meet with their mentor and discuss career progress at least once a year. But ironically, those who arguably need this service most: the temporary staff who might be working three or four jobs to make ends meet, might not have access to a PDR system. So, take the initiative and give yourself your own career review!

Questions to think about include: have I done anything this year to improve my CV in terms of qualifications, experience or skills? Where are there still significant gaps in my profile? How can I go about trying to plug those gaps in 2011?

This is a challenging time in the world of universities, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for the possibility of that dream job coming along next year. And even if it simply isn’t possible to move jobs, by improving your career profile you’ll feel as though you’re doing something productive towards a move in the future, rather than just allowing yourself to stagnate.The same is true even if you are not actively looking to move at the moment.

As lecturers these days we spend so much time thinking about the employability of our students (and rightly so) that it is easy to forget to think about our employability! So, before you put your feet up this holiday season, spend a few moments auditing your career achievements this year: you’ll probably find that you’ve done more than you think!

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About Catherine Armstrong

Dr Catherine Armstrong is a Senior Lecturer in History at Manchester Metropolitan University, specialising in North American History. She is a former teaching fellow in History at the University of Warwick and Oxford Brookes University. Catherine was also Director of Historical Studies in the Open Studies department at the University of Warwick. Her first book ‘Writing North America in the Seventeenth Century’ was published by Ashgate in June 2007. As a long-time jobseeker for an academic role herself, Catherine is in a unique position to understand and offer her knowledge and experience to those developing an academic career.

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