Recently, quite a few PhD students whom I know from my former university (Fribourg, Switzerland) are graduating and when chatting about their “what next?”, I found myself recommending the same websites again and again. This is then the first article of a series about #career which all together will create a long resource.

Most articles are specific for Switzerland and should be of interest of both PhD students and postdocs (PhDs). Also, as I come from life sciences, I have a bias towards STEM* but many of the info I’ll share should be interesting whatever your field.

👉 In this first article, you find a list of websites to help you identify your own skills, interests and values. “Collect data on yourself before choosing a career” have a look at this nice 2015 article from Nature Careers about the importance of using the tools I link below :)

*STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (Life Science is in here too).


myIDP from Science Career– for STEM

Here the website.

myIDP = my Individual Development Plan.

It’s free.

This has been developed by the journal Science and their Science Career team since 2003 (yes, 2003!!).

“You have put a lot of time and effort into pursuing your PhD degree. Now it’s time to focus on how to leverage your expertise into a satisfying and productive career. The Individual Development Plan (IDP) concept is commonly used in industry to help employees define and pursue their career goals. In 2003, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) proposed an IDP framework for postdoctoral fellows in the sciences. AAAS/Science joined forces with FASEB and experts from several universities (see authors below) to expand on that framework. The result is myIDP – a unique, web-based career-planning tool tailored to meet the needs of PhD students and postdocs in the sciences.”

Here you will be asked to fill up 3 questionnaires for self-assessing:

  • your skills (exampe: How is your level for writing scientific publications on a scale of 1 to 5?)
  • your interets = the things you like to do (example: do you like writing scientific publications?)
  • your values (example: how important is it for you to “have some choice over the hours or days that [you] work”?)

Then based on your answers, this IDP tool will match a list of career paths (academic and non-academic) and for each they’re having resources with blog posts, articles, books, etc. for you to explore further.

I’ve done it a couple of times for myself, I highly recommend it! :)

ImaginePhD – for SSH

Here the website.

It’s free.

SSH = Social Sciences and Humanities. However, I also recommend it for STEM in addition to the myIDP, because ImaginePhD also has tons of resources to explore and I find the values assessment questionnaire and results more complete (plus the website is all new and beautiful).

“Following a similar process that resulted in the creation of the myIDP online career tool for STEM fields, the ImaginePhD team engaged “experts” to complete surveys to gather data to match skills and interests to sixteen job families.”

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

Humanities and social sciences PhD students and their mentors have long recognized the need for more resources to help bridge the knowledge gap between doctoral education and the realm of career possibilities. ImaginePhD is designed to meet this need by allowing users to:

  • assess their career-related skills, interests, and values
  • explore careers paths appropriate to their disciplines
  • create self-defined goals
  • map out next steps for career and professional development success”

Again I highly recommend it!

RDF Planner from Vitae (UK)

Here the website.

RDF = Research Development Framework.

Not free – about 30CHF a year.

Quickly first about Vitae: “We are a non-profit programme, part of The Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC) Ltd with nearly 50 years’ experience in enhancing the skills and careers of researchers

I have been recommended Vitae and the work they do quite many times, specifically their Research Development Framework to help us reflect on our own skills.

However, given that their online planner is not free, I haven’t tried it yet… I should do this soon :)

Now about the RDF Planner: have a look at their nice presentation video.

“Take control of your professional and career development with the Vitae RDF Planner

  • Identify your expertise and capabilities
  • Plan your career
  • Focus your training effort where it is needed most
  • Record and showcase your achievements
  • Monitor your progress
  • Use in professional development review meetings with your supervisor or PI

mydocPro (France)

Here the website. While originally from France, this website exists in English as well.

It’s free.

This online tool guides you step by step to reflect on your skills and to build your portfolio. It offers to create an online profile by adding the skills which you think you have. However, compared to myIDP or ImaginePhD for example, here there are no questionnaires. You will have to judge your own level for each skill. Thus, it’s likely to be subjective, but it’s still a good tool to use.

In particular, what I like on this website is that for each skill it encourages to write a short paragraph to describe how you acquired this skill. Taking the time to write this down will be a great advantage for when you are in a job interview and someone ask, for example, “how do you manage conflict?” Read more about this idea of portfolio here and here.

At the same time, you are creating an online profile meaning you are visible to potential employers and you can look for jobs on their platform (for industry).

“DocPro provides you with a clear and well-structured vision of the skills you have to offer an employer. It is a tool for analysis, self-assessment and communication that will help you prepare for a career move and capitalize on your skills.”

“The application guides you step by step to:

  • identify the competencies you wish to highlight;
  • determine your progress with respect to the three phases of maturity defined by the tool;
  • illustrate each skill you list with a personal experience that shows specifically how you acquired it;
  • upload your profile to be shared on”

Personality tests - recommended by EPFL

Here the webpage.

Here on the website for EPFL alumni, I noticed that they recommend 3 personality tests which one can do for free online.

I’ve done the first one and found it quite nice. For example, it can help to think about which kind of team player we are.


Thanks for looking through this blog post today, I hope you found some helpful information! :)

In the next blog posts, I focus on Swiss-specific contents. I listed (again) the Career Services for PhDs in Swiss universities and other higher education institutes. 🇨🇭 For more, have a look here.

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