UiB Ferd Career Center for Early Stage Researchers
UiB Ferd

Career planning tools

As the specific situations and needs of early stage researchers (ESR) has become better understood, a number of useful resources and tools have been developed to support ESRs to plan for their future.

Main content

Career planning tools can help you to assess your current skills and competencies, set goals for your professional development and plan - and implement - specific steps to achieve these goals.  
A number of different skills-assessment and career development planning tools have been designed specifically for early stage researchers. 

How to use your own plans

Your plans should be shared and discussed with your line manager - your supervisor,  group leader or head of institute. Together you should discuss and draw up an action plan with realistic measures that you can implement to develop an identified skill, make better use of your existing expertise or develop toward a specific professional.

Appraisal interviews and career development

As an early stage researcher, it is important that you have access to relevant information about the purpose of appraisal interviews.

Appraisal interviews are a tool for facilitating good dialogue between researchers and managers. They are designed to ensure good follow-up of an individual researcher's academic development.

If properly conducted, appraisal interviews can play a key role in a unit’s plans and strategy and an individual researcher's career development.


Appraisal interviews are planned, structured conversations between researchers and their managers where both parties have previously prepared topics they wish to discuss.

These conversations require good planning and structure, as well as honesty from both parties, in order to be really beneficial.

Conversations should provide scope for specific planning of an individual researcher's work during the forthcoming period and can also be a forum for planning an individual researcher's career development.


A draft template has been prepared for appraisal interviews and we recommend that it is used.

Further information
For further information, please refer to see our Employee Manual (requires login) 

Please contact the UiB Ferd Career Centre for further information if required.

Foreign employees - special circumstances 
In Norway, appraisal interviews are an established personnel policy tool based on principles relating to participation, involvement and development, as stipulated in the Norwegian Working Environment Act.

It is important to be aware that in cultures outside the Nordic countries, conversations with line managers can be a very different experience.

It is important to communicate what you wish to achieve in an appraisal interview in order to ensure  confidentiality, and maximise the chance of the conversation being beneficial for both parties. This could be a gradual process.

Foreign researchers will generally need to understand the organisation’s overall strategies and goals, the importance of having a good, inclusive working environment and the individual’s opportunities for contributing to the community. Current topics could include social networking and the welfare services which are linked to our International Centre and Occupational Health Service. Relevant topics might include having confidence in one’s manager and colleagues, experiencing a sense of belonging and, in some cases, making adjustments and ensuring integration outside the workplace.

Reflex (Euraxess)

The ReEFLEX Resarcher Career Development Scheme Application (Reflex app) is a free electronic application designed to support research institutions and support staff and individual researchers.

The REFLEX app identifies key areas of researchers' professional development and provides examples of activities that can be undertaken in order to support researchers in all of these areas.

The interface is intuitive and easy to learn and use. However, to make the most of the app, we recommend users to read the following details about the application’s functions and tips on how to use them. This video offers a short and useful introduction


MyIDP from ScienceCareers/AAAS is a free online interactive IDP tool. MyIDO was developed by a team of researchers and career advisers for trainees in the biomedical sciences.
In addition to setting goals for research projects, it encourages exploration of a full range of career options and involves a four-phase process:

  • Self-assessment (skills, interests and values)
  • Career exploration
  • Setting goals and 
  • Implementation

It contains the following features:

  • Exercises to help you investigate your own skills, interests and values
  • A list of 20 scientific career paths with a prediction of which ones best suit your skills and interests
  • A tool for setting strategic targets for the coming year, with optional reminders to keep you 'on track'
  • Articles, guidelines and other resources 
  • Related videos for IDP and career planning

Learn more about the IDP process and using MyIDP here.


ImaginePhD is a free online career exploration and planning tool for postdoctoral and doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences.

This resource that can help bridge the knowledge gap between doctoral training and career opportunities. ImaginePhD is designed to help users to:

  • consider career-related skills, interests and values
  • explore career paths that are suitable for their fields of study
  • create self-defined goals
  • identitfy the next steps for successful career and vocational development

Further information is available here.

The Marie Curie Actions

This is a Word document designed for Marie Curie career development plans and which deals with both long-term and short-term planning.

It focuses on objectives in research projects and contains suggestions for various targets that should be achieved during the course of the project.

In order to divide these targets into specific next steps, we suggest using the S.M.A.R.T. target approach.

For further information, please review the gudielines.


Eurodoc is the European Council's association for young researchers. Here you will find links to resources such as courses, tools and links to interesting partner institutions.