Successes and achievements
What has gone well? What have you produced? What have the outcomes been?
- ARC processes tend to assess performance against pre-determined objectives, and research institutions have historically measured success in terms of outputs and metrics. Here, we can define ‘success’ more broadly as any positive result achieved through your action or behaviour.
- Similarly, career review templates typically require us to organise our responses to these questions into categories (e.g. research, teaching, internal contribution), but it can be helpful to start with a blank piece of paper. Which achievements first come to your mind? What was their impact? Why does it matter to you personally?
- Start by reflecting on what feels like a success to you. Don’t worry about how you would explain it to others or how it compares to what you perceive other peoples’ successes to be. No two careers are the same, and achievement is, in large part, a matter of perspective.
- Now, begin to categorise. In order to refresh your thinking, you might consider using a model like the Résumé for Researchers. This CV format was developed by the Royal Society so that researchers can better capture the reality of their individual contributions – to science, to teams and collaborative work, to their field, and to society as a whole. The narrative structure enables you to describe informal achievements (e.g. ad hoc mentoring of junior colleagues) and to articulate the impacts of your work (e.g. how a paper was used, not just where it appeared). UKRI has committed to implementing their own version, the Résumé for Research and Innovation. Get ahead now and practise putting one together.
- As you sort your achievements into categories, notice whether there are patterns. For example: are your achievements clustered in one particular sphere of activity? What contextual factors explain why that might be the case? How important to you is to change that?
- Everyone wrestles with an ‘inner critic’ (see our videos on the inner critic). Ask trusted colleagues or mentors to help you pinpoint successes which you might have forgotten or downplayed.