Personal Objective Plan

Goal: To use networking to improve job prospects in a field unrelated to my doctorate

To illustrate the strategy we suggest for setting personal objectives, this example looks at a career development opportunity – using networking to improve job prospects

1. Identify what is stopping you from achieving your goal or things that concern you

  • Don’t know anyone who works in this area
  • No idea what to ask people about their jobs
  • Can’t think why people would help me
  • Is this a realistic job for me?

2. Identify what will help you achieve your goal

  • By talking with people in this field I will be able to find out more about the skills they want and check that my skills match.
  • Because this is a change in direction for me, networking will really help to make a personal impression and allow me to sell my skills.
  • I will offer to keep the people who help me informed of my progress: it will help me stay motivated

3. Identify the resources which might help you

Identify people to talk to

  • Careers service – lots of employers visit them
  • Ask my family and friends (and supervisor) if someone works in this area or has any contacts
  • Check destination lists of former students for contacts
  • Alumni Office – they might have a list of former graduates who are willing to talk to current students (also ask the Careers Service)

Ask the right questions

  • I will ask the Careers Service for help
  • Research effective networking on this site and the key careers sites
  • Make a list of what I would want to tell someone if they were interested in being a research student – this might suggest some questions
  • Use recruitment brochures – make a list of what I want to know that isn’t in them
  • Look at the recruitment information and application forms – what do I need to know to complete these successfully?

Why would people help me?

  • They might be recruiting – have a good CV ready to show people
  • If they don’t usually recruit PhD students, they might want to know more about the skills I have that are relevant.
  • They might want to improve their links to the University – ask the Careers Service if they have links with the companies I want to talk to.
  • When I contact them, ask what they might want to get out of my visit or ask at the end of the interview if I can help them

Am I being realistic?

  • Look at profiles of employees in brochures and on the web to see if anyone with my background has been successful in this industry
  • Check out the postgraduate destination statistics at the Careers Service to see what previous doctorates in my field have done.
  • Make a list of the skills these employers look for and draw up evidence from my background to check my suitability.

4. Now set some deadlines:

This afternoon

  • Find out if there are any networks I can tap into – visit or call careers service and alumni office

This evening

  • Call home and see if anyone knows someone working in this area

This week

  • Talk to friends, supervisor, anyone I can think of about this – see if they have any contacts
  • Search on the web for advice – maybe email a relevant careers site to ask for help

Next week

  • Start to draw up questions I want to ask
  • Get in touch with my friendliest contact – ask them if they would be willing to have conversation or arrange a visit
  • If I have not been successful in identifying anyone, go back to Careers Service and see if they know of any events which might lead to new contacts

Two weeks

  • Review progress – have I arranged any visits or interviews? How many names do I have? If I have arranged or carried out visits, write letters to thank my contacts.
  • Widen my net if I need to – Student Industrial Society or equivalent, local Chamber of Commerce, professional bodies?
  • Thank everyone who has helped – send a positive summary of my progress and ask for any other suggestions for action.

This goal is now looking achievable and satisfies all the conditions of being SMARTE.


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