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Personal development planning for engineering
Personal development planning for engineering

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2 Evaluating your abilities ('Where am I now?')

This section will focus on the second point that Chi made in Audio 3: identifying the skills you have now. Evaluating your abilities is concerned with helping you to take stock of your current position by:

  • identifying the range of knowledge, skills and experience you possess
  • exploring your strengths and weaknesses in relation to your current role
  • examining the opportunities and threats facing you at present.

To do this, start by identifying all the sources that you can use – these can be quite varied. For instance, you might consider:

  • your most recent work appraisal
  • academic or professional qualification transcripts
  • assignment feedback
  • client or customer feedback.

A key part of this is collecting evidence from a variety of sources so that you can see how different people or organisations rate your strengths and weaknesses. This can be useful when it comes to recognising either unrealistically high or unnecessarily low estimations of your own abilities. You should also consider sources from outside your professional and academic circles. For instance:

  • any sporting activities you take part in
  • societies or clubs.

This is an example of how to apply a holistic approach to career development (Figure 3).

Described image
Figure 3 Taking a holistic approach?

It's all well and good for you to go away and identify possible sources now, but this won't be much use in a month or so when you have forgotten all the details. So the next activity will start you off on the process of developing a portfolio of evidence – initially regarding where you are now, but there is nothing stopping you from keeping this up to date in the future and outside the confines of this course.

Activity 4

Aim of this activity:

  • to start a record of where you have information and evidence stored for easy future reference.

Table 1 below is an example of some sources of evidence. Give a few examples of sources of evidence you could draw on. It will be useful to update this in the future as your studies and your career progress.

Table 1
Description of information sourceKind of informationLocationUsefulness
Last year's performance appraisalCovers work performance and professional development needsMy personal file at workContains useful information on skills gaps
Most recent CVJobs, education and training, skills, abilities and interestsOn my home computerGood source, but needs updating
Feedback from most recent study assessment (i.e. tutor comments on coursework)Comments on performance and study skillsIn my OU study folderIdentifies some key strengths and weaknesses
Opinions of friends, family and colleaguesComments on my list of strengths and weaknessesInformal checklistVery subjective, but may provide food for thought