Personal development planning for engineering
Personal development planning for engineering

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

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

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371