These tools are designed to help you structure your career development. You assess your development, skills and interests, set goals for your own future and track your progress. You also receive lots of helpful links and resources to help you with each step. It is important to use it as a long-term companion, like a coach or mentor, and not just once like a questionnaire you fill in and hope for a definite answer for your future. These formats can also help you to describe your qualities to employers in your documents as well as during the interview.

An article about IDPs (individual development plans).


myIDP by Science Careers
You fill in a questionnaire about your skills, interests and values, which is matched to various job fields giving you a ranking of where your skills and interests are best catered for. Job fields are clustered together into 20 categories, e.g. “Drug/device approval and production”. Biomedical research is the main but not exclusive focus. Large collection of useful links. Can help you to structure you skills development and other professional goals. No cost.
Strength: Takes lots of individual aspects of your strengths, interests and values into consideration and matches them in a smart way with a wide range of job types.
Weakness: Although it is supposed to be for all job types, you can feel the strongly academic background. For example customer contact, one of the most decisive factors in determining how your job will look like, is not part of the consideration. Also, your values are interrogated in the questionnaire but not integrated into the results.

RDF by Vitae

Helps you structure and monitor your progress in a broad range of individual development fields listed in the table below. You enter evidence and action plans to each point you find relevant to your development. The RDF can be used to structure this development, for example by giving you overviews over the next steps you have to take. 24 GBP subscription fee per year.
Apart from the PDF, the Vitae website offers a plethora of info for researchers.



Strength: Huge collection of useful links and texts in each section.
Weakness: Does not give directions of job types you might go to professionally (alternative career options) or interrogate into you interests- it merely monitors your progress on the skills.

Core competencies of the National Postdoc Association (NPA)
Info and self-assessment on the six core competencies
1. Discipline-specific conceptual knowledge
2. Research skill development
3. Communication skills
4. Professionalism
5. Leadership and management skills
6. Responsible conduct of research
Furthermore, the NPA offers a range of texts and events for postdocs.

California CareerZone
Tools to formulate your ideal job description (and discover many things on the way) based on your strengths, values, interests and personality. Works best in a peer-to-peer setting.
Self-assessment tools as well as an extensive collection of job fields with detailed descriptions with regards to requirements, perspectives and many more. US-centered, but a great inspiration for any job seeker.

PhD holders can fill in a profile consisting of 24 different skills and self-assess into three different levels. Employers post such profiles about various positions they try to fill, so that both sides can understand each other´s expectations more clearly and can communicate more effectively with each other. In a second stage, applicants can fill in “proof” of their self-assessments, which will make it easier to communicate their skills during e.g. job interviews.

Prospects planner
You enter info on four fields (general, skills, motivation and desires) and get matches with job types. Unfortunately you get many generic answers, although you enter your professional field in your profile before starting the test. I as a chemist got “Occupational Psychologist” as one of my top options. However, it can still give you unexpected inspiration. The job types are explained in detail.

Competence and skill tool Radboud University, Netherlands
A relatively simple, excel-based tool for self-assessment of relevant skills for researchers.

Other methods

Pen-and paper method

Cambridge life coaching introspection
Make chart with past experiences:
1. Achievement, 2.Outcomes, 3. Skills/ Qualifications, 4. Experience, 5. Likes, 6. Dislikes
List your achievements and fill in the other fields for it. Then answer the following questions and follow the advice:
– Which of these would you like to bring into your career and how might you achieve this?
– To identify any gaps in your skills/achievements. Think about what you need that is missing, and how you might work to obtain these.
– To keep a journal of your skills and achievements. This can be useful when writing your CV or preparing for job interviews.
– What kind of future might you be creating for yourself, based upon how you are behaving today?