Career progression and aspirations
Do you have a specific next career step in mind? What is needed to achieve that step? To what extent do the successes you identified above contribute to that aspiration?
- For many academics, their next career step will be achieved via promotion. Make sure you are familiar with the criteria and how these will be assessed for your discipline. Beware of relying on second-hand advice here; go to the source and read the criteria yourself. Many people talk themselves out of applying for promotion on the grounds that they feel, or have been ‘advised’, that they are not ready when, in fact, they do meet the criteria. If you’re unsure whether you meet all the criteria for promotion, seek advice from trusted colleagues, your head of department or the Academic Progression Team.
- There is evidence that academic staff from under-represented and/or minoritised groups are disproportionately likely to hold themselves back from applying for promotion and/or may be held to different standards. Pay gaps and lower numbers of professors from these groups also attest to this ongoing inequality. Imperial has a number of initiatives to tackle the issues, including a gender de-coding tool to mitigate hidden bias.
- A classic careers advice tip is to behave as if you are at the next grade before you apply for it. What role models do you have for people at the grade you want to achieve? How do they speak, act, behave? How do you feel when you compare yourself to them? What would it look like if you were acting at their level?
- Lastly, it can be tempting to focus on job titles as demonstrable evidence of progression, particularly in a hierarchised setting like academia. There’s nothing wrong with climbing up the management hierarchy if doing so genuinely motivates you and/or fulfils your needs. But there are other valid measures of success, such as producing research which aligns with your sense of purpose or developing innovative teaching which aligns with your educational values. Don’t chase another person’s definition of success – define and pursue your own success.