Hello dear reader, I know I haven’t been posting for a while… I got busy starting a new job, settling in a new city, dealing with personal projects… Now the covid-19 is clearing up my personal agenda with an impressive efficiency: workshop postponed, career talk postponed, my wedding postponed… well, no more excuses for procrastination and let’s get back to blogging! :) Always trying to see the bright side of things even though this situation is not fun, to say the least!

For today’s post, I told myself: so many soft skills workshops are being canceled or postponed, leaving locked-down PhD students even more alone with their career questions… but actually there are many tools available online!

⚠️ Warning: actually I’m reusing a lot the contents from my previous blog posts! Just putting everything in one place :)


Keeping my dear Switzerland in mind, let’s start with what is still available in Swiss universities 🇨🇭

  1. Swiss Career Development Programs for PhD students, during lockdown

  2. Online tools for Self-Assessing your Skills, Interests & Values

  3. More Online Career Resources


1. Swiss Career Development Programs for PhD students, during lockdown

Coordinators of career development programs for PhDs in Switzerland are currently doing an amazing job to maintain many workshops online, applause to all!! 👏👏

  • CUSO

For Western Switzerland, the CUSO transferable skills program has been transforming some workshops into online ones and they are even offering new ones, make sure to keep an eye on their program here!

They are also regularly posting on their blog, sharing tips and other relevant information for PhD students during this challenging time, posting both in French and English :)

Disclaimer: I worked for CUSO in November and December last year (2019), plus I have been a big fan of their work since many many years given how much this program helped me during my PhD (as you can read here). So let’s be honest saying I’m a bit biased when recommending this amazing program! :D Don’t just take my words, have a look yourself!

  • For Women Scientists

The Atelier REGARD are also having workshops online, check their program here.

For more programs supporting women scientists careers in Switzerland, have a look here.

  • Check what might still be available in your university

Here I would like to refer again my blog post where I previously listed many Career Services for Early Career Researchers in Swiss Universities and Higher Education institutions.

Today I only checked out the Graduate Campuses in Lausanne, Zurich and Basel, and I can tell you that they are having many workshops online, impressive!


2. Online tools for Self-Assessing your Skills, Interests & Values

Again in this part I am using one of my previous blog post. I am just copy-pasting it here again.

Importantly: all these online resources are always useful!! Not only during the lockdown ;)

myIDP from Science Career— for STEM

Here the website of myIDP and here a nice short post by Science Mag introducing this myIDP tool.

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 have 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 of ImaginePhD.

It’s free.

SSH = Social Sciences and Humanities. However, I also recommend it for STEM in addition to the myIDP, because 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 of Vitae’s RDF Planner.

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 myself yet

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 myDocPro website. From France, this website is available 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 mydocpro.org.”

Personality tests—recommended by EPFL

Here the EPFL 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.


3. More Online Career Resources

Again, copy-pasting, adapting and complementing contents from my previous post on Academic & non-academic career Resource for EU and more.

PhDOOC - Doctorat et Poursuite de Carrière – English available

👉 While this PhDOOC online course is normally open only during specific time periods, they are now offering some special access for the lockdown! It is free!

Here the website and with the description in French.

Here the description in English (PDF).

The English version is in progress but most content should be available in English:

“The MOOC PhD and Career Development is now available in English. Translation has been done for PhDOOC contents. It is possible to participate in English in the forum but activities are not yet translated in English. Some external materials are in English, French one are not translated.”

“L’association PhDOOC propose aux doctorants et aux docteurs un MOOC pour les sensibiliser aux outils et ressources existants et accessibles en ligne. Cette formation collaborative sur-mesure leur permet de s’appuyer sur une communauté tout en répondant à leurs contraintes de temps et de disponibilité.

Notre objectif est de construire un espace d’information, d’échange et d’entraide sur la thématique de la poursuite de carrière des docteurs.”


Amener les doctorants et les docteurs à construire leur portefeuille de compétences

  • Les sensibiliser aux carrières possibles après la thèse
  • Leur donner les moyens d’élaborer leur projet professionnel
  • Les amener à construire leurs outils de communication
  • Les former à la démarche de recherche d’emploi
  • Favoriser la création d’une communauté se basant sur le partage, la collaboration et l’entraide.
  • Permettre aux participants de développer leur réseau”

“une attestation de réussite vous est proposée. Le parcours validé (commun ou avancé) y sera inscrit ainsi que le nombre d’heures de formation correspondant (12 ou 24 heures). Elle peut vous permettre de faire reconnaître sa formation (il revient au participant de faire la démarche). Cette attestation est payante, ce qui permet à l’association de fonctionner et de garantir l’accès gratuit au MOOC.”

Euraxess — by the European Commission

Here to Euraxess website.

“EURAXESS – Researchers in Motion is a unique pan-European initiative delivering information and support services to professional researchers. Backed by the European Union, member states and associated countries, it supports researcher mobility and career development, while enhancing scientific collaboration between Europe and the world.”

This is quite a big platform which includes a jobs search tool, you can create a profile and make your CV, there is also a tool for finding funding and it will orientate you to relevant resources for researchers in many, many countries (for example about accommodation or visa & entry conditions).

👉 Regarding career development: “EURAXESS supports you through the process, whether it is about engaging with academia or Industry, with the help of its career development centres, useful information, training resources, and more to come!”

I must say that I haven’t explored everything related to career development there because I don’t find this website very well made and I feel like I’m running in a circle always ending up on the same piece of advice. I would still recommend having a look at it, it’s a good resource to know of.

Research Identity, a European research project

Here the Research Identity website.

It looks to me like this website comes from a research project which is still in its early steps, but which seems very promising! Co-funded by the Erasmus European Program and many universities.

“The RID-SSISS project aims not only at helping Early Career Researchers (ECRs), that is doctoral students and postdocs, to develop as researchers. It also seeks to provide them with the educational resources for acquiring the high-level competences and skills they need to act as researchers in a complex, highly competitive and interdisciplinary context. Such context calls for a new conceptualization of research and a new researcher profile. The RID-SSISS aims to contribute in this direction through the design, implementation and dissemination of training and resources.”

👉 For one of their projects, they collected testimonies from ECRs over several years to record their personal career reflections and decisions. You can explore these career timelines by reading people’s testimonies on this part of the website.

I find it quite interesting to read these people’s stories, they are sharing on both their personal lives, work experiences and career thinking, sharing their struggles and doubts.

Career Blog from the EMBL (Life Sciences)

Here to the EMBL’s blog. “A life science careers blog for early career researchers”

👉 For the lockdown they also made a great resource with even more references than I’ve put in here today! “Want to spend time on your career planning, and don’t know where to start?” published 16th March 2020

“This blog aims to inspire early career researchers exploring different career options. We provide interview-based profiles of life scientists working in diverse science-related careers and articles on a broad range of career-related topics, with new content added on a regular basis.”

In particular, they have 4 very good articles with tips for CV/resume writing. They conducted a survey about which information to include or exclude in a CV depending on the country where one is applying, with a nice 1-page-PDF visually summarizing the results. Indeed, in some countries you better have a photo and your date of birth, while in others you better avoid putting in this “very personal” information!

Also you can get inspired by reading people’s career stories.

Beyond the Professoriate

Here BeyondTheProf’s website.

“Empowering PhDs to build impactful careers & engaged lives, wherever smart people are needed.”

“Whether you aspire to work on the tenure track or are changing careers entirely after years of academic study, we’re here to help you. We have resources to support individuals and partner with institutions.”

I don’t know how to describe this website because they simply have SO much content! Most of it is not free but it definitely looks worth it.

👉 One reason why I think this ref is particularly relevant during the lockdown situation: they are used to do everything online since many years, they are the top pro of online career help for PhDs!!

Highlight of what you can get there:

free career events, every month

free blog posts, for example here about job search during covid

annual online career conference (webinar): this year is the 7th! Dates: May 2–9, 2020.

– an online community

online courses to help with the job search

– personal coaching

Cheeky Scientist

Here Cheeky Scientist’s website.

“We Turn PhDs Into Confident and Successful Industry Professionals”

Similar business plan as BeyondTheProf, mixing some free contents with non-free ones. Also mainly US-influenced rather than European.

Here again you can take part in an online community and it is specific for PhDs looking to step into industry. They also have many webinars and online courses, for example on Medical Writing, Medical Science Liaison jobs, ScientistMBA and much more.

“The Cheeky Scientist Association is the world’s largest job search training platform specifically for helping PhDs get hired into industry careers. It’s also the world’s largest PhD-only job referral network.”

Pro tip: their free CV guide is worth giving your email address for it! You can always unsubscribe afterwards ;)

Honestly: I’m not super fan of their approach which I find aggressive sometimes; for example, they’re always talking about how much more money one will make outside of academia. But trying to put this aside, I believe this website is still a good resource to know of.


Thank you so much for having a look at my post! :) I hope you found some interesting and helpful ref. It’s never too late nor too early to explore career-related questions, take the time you need!

And most importantly, take good care of you during this challenging covid-19 time 🙏

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