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Career development for support staff in Physics

The ‘typical’ route for support staff to progress at Warwick is to apply for an advertised vacancy and move from one level to the next. All university vacancies can be found at: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/humanresources/jobsintro/

In some areas this works well as similar functions exist across many parts of the university e.g. student support and finance roles. Other jobs are highly specific and are found in only one or two departments or require a unique set of skills and experiences that are difficult to gain unless already working in the area e.g. technical support for specialised equipment. Not only do these roles tend to be rare, the investment in support and training on both sides to become an expert means the posts can also be occupied for years and are therefore less likely to arise as a vacancy in the first place. If such posts are advertised, they may be advertised at a lower level to allow the post holder time to accumulate required experience to be able to operate as an expert.

If there have been significant changes in a post that mean it has grown beyond the original grade and expectations, the role can be put forward for job evaluation where a panel will evaluate whether the role should be re-graded or not. For support staff, it is the duties and responsibilities of the post and the need for that post in the departmental structure that are evaluated and not the performance of the individual, no matter how skilled and experienced they are. Requests for a re-grade of a post will usually need to be supported by the department before being put forward. There is no guarantee that a post will be re- graded to a higher grade.

Whatever direction you wish to go in, if you wish to develop yourself further whilst in your current role and/or aspire to meet the criteria for the next level of post you can prepare for the next step by:

  • Discussing your career goals with your line manager, as part of the Personal Development Review (PDR) and also throughout the year.
  • Discussing training needs with your line manager and identifying training courses which may help you to achieve your goals.
  • Asking your line manager about opportunities for job shadowing, internal secondments, mentoring and coaching.
  • Gaining experience - you can do this by asking your line manager for opportunities to take on extra responsibilities within your existing role or within the wider group/ department or even across the university.
  • Gaining qualifications- in some areas, qualifications may be essential in helping you move to the next level.
  • Obtaining job descriptions for higher level posts within your area to give you an idea of the experience or qualifications required to move up to the next level.
  • Acknowledging that to move into a new area you may need to make a sideways move to gain relevant experience for the next step.
  • Networking through different channels. Meetings, training courses, conferences and other events are great places to find out about different areas of the university and to make contacts.
  • Joining your professional body and engaging with discussion and events at a university/ national level.
  • Being proactive!

Where possible the department will support your development needs within the scope of your existing role and hours, but for anything above and beyond your current duties you may need to think about how you can accommodate activities into your own time.

Learning and Development Centre (LDC)

LDC provides information on career progression, job applications, interview skills etc at http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/ldc/personal/careerprog/ . Also make use of those around you: talk to people in areas or positions that you are interested in.

Training courses

LDC provides an extensive range of training courses to support your personal, project and managerial / leadership and technical development. Physics will consider all requests for support for external training relevant to your current post where not offered by the LDC and where possible within budgets, for example training on specialized equipment or techniques.

Coaching and Mentoring

Coaching and mentoring are potentially valuable processes to help you to enhance your performance, improve working relationships, develop capability or manage your career. There is a formal mentoring scheme run by the University but you can also make use of networks, informal links and opportunities, speak to your line manager for support on this.

Warwick Learning Account

The WLA is a scheme which allows staff to use vouchers to participate in sport classes, language classes, to study a part-time degree or short 10-week courses.

IT Services Training Courses

IT services offer an extensive range of free IT training courses for staff including one to one training as well as offering IT qualifications in European Computer Driving License (ECDL) and Microsoft Office Specialist Certification (MOS).

If you find that you are not getting the appropriate support from your line manager, please contact Ayesha Rahman or Katherine Branch who will be able to facilitate the support required.

July 2015