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Time to move on

It's the month for planning the next step up the ladder. In the first of two articles, John Caunt shows how to go about it

One advantage in being a teacher is the opportunity to make New Year resolutions twice each year. Save those concerned with eating, drinking and keeping fit until after Christmas; September is the time for career development resolutions.

If you feel that you have been too long in the same job or too preoccupied with survival to think about advancement, then it may be time to think about a personal marketing strategy.

This may sound fancy, but it really means no more than being clear what you want to achieve, identifying the requirements you will need to fulfil, and having an achievable plan for accomplishing them.

Step 1 First consider your career goals over the next three to five years and aspirations associated with home, family, and other interests outside work.

Writing them down will help to move them from vague wish to clear intention. Think about a realistic time-scale for each of the goals you have identified. Is there potential for clash between personal and career goals? How much are you prepared to sac-rifice one for the other?

Step 2 Next, study your immediate career goals in terms of the attributes you will need in order to achieve them. These may vary according to your aims, but to be successful you will need to display a combination of the qualities employers seek, together with the presentational skill to put yourself across. A checklist of the qualities commonly required in both areas is set out in the box, right. List your strengths and weaknesses (or yet-to-be-realised strengths) in each of the relevant areas. Look especially hard for strengths, but be realistic about weaknesses. This is not easy to do.

Accurately pinpointing the areas for your own development may call for some outside assistance. You may have been fortunate in having an appraisal or mentoring arrangement which has helped or, failing that, you may find it helpful to talk through your own assessment with a close colleague.

Remember it is easier to admit to weaknesses in some areas than others. Many people will happily confess to being poor with paperwork, fewer will acknowledge being bad with people. Those attributes about which it is difficult to be honest with yourself are sometimes the most important.

Step 3 The list of strengths should be a confidence-booster and will come in handy when you are preparing job applications. But now ask yourself which of the areas of weakness are likely to be the most critical in the sort of role you seek.

Actions included should be clear with a realistic prospect of achievement. Wherever poss-ible, select actions which are within your control.

* Next week: skills development and job applications

WHAT IT TAKES

Attributes commonly requiredfor promotion:

* Relevant qualifications and evidence of continued professional development

* Subject knowledge, curriculum innovation and awareness of developments

* People skills - leading, influencing, motivating, team-building, counselling

* Planning and problem- solving abilities

* Organisation - deploying resources, overseeing areas of activity, handling paperwork, interpreting and implementing policies

* Working flexibly and handling pressure

* Monitoring and evaluating quality and standards

General job application skills:

* Presenting yourself convincingly on paper

* Being relaxed and confident in meetings; establishing rapport

* Thinking on your feet and handling questions

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