With today’s Blog we will take a small step back, returning to where it all started: What is Skills Weaving, why is it needed, and how can you apply it to advance your academic career?
What is Skills Weaving?
Skills Weaving offers a structured approach towards career advancement for academics. The method has been invented by Wino Wijnen (WiWright) and further developed with Erik van Kempen (Kupra). With it, we aim to provide junior academics (PhD students and postdoctoral researchers) with tools and a mindset that stimulates pro-active personal development and strategic career advancement. We identified 10 crucial skill domains and raise awareness about the importance of balancing your skillset. Skills Weaving promotes the concept that expertise in these various skill domains should be developed in parallel. Such approach avoids skill gaps and allows smoother career advancement and transitions.
Why is it needed?
For many academics, the early career predominantly focuses on acquiring field-specific knowledge, technical, and methodological skills. Such skills are often very well-developed, as they represent key competences for early-stage career success (traditionally measured by the quality of research output). In contrast, essential professional skills like communication, networking, management, and leadership typically receive less attention. Critically, it is those skills that grow in importance when it comes to success in later career stages. Especially for the transition from postdoctoral researcher to assistant professor, the lack of a competitive skillset can become an obstacle to career advancement. The resulting career challenges are known as the “Postdoc Trap” or being “Stuck in science”, and require a reactive approach towards skills development (figure 1). In contrast, applying the principles of Skills Weaving stimulates a pro-active approach that facilitates a smoother and more flexible approach towards career advancement.
Figure 1: Reactive versus pro-active career advancement. Traditionally, academics put most emphasis on acquiring expertise, while other skills receive less attention and are developed on the go (left). Skills Weaving promotes an approach of balanced skills development (right).
How can you apply Skills Weaving to advance your career?
Through Skills Weaving, we aim at providing essential insights, hands-on approaches, online tools, and interactive events that promote early awareness about professional skills in the context of career development for academics. As such, we stimulate junior academics to set clear career goals and develop structured approaches by designing a Personal Career Development Plan (downloadable template available on our website). For those who want to learn more, we have published a Blog on Career Development Plans and provide regular Webinars on the topic.
Another tool is our Skills Weaving – Academic Career Skills Assessment: an online questionnaire that inquires about your experiences, actions, and achievements. The resulting report contains an overview of your personal skills profile (Skillsweb and Skills Distribution), a set of general suggestions for academic career advancement, as well as specific feedback and suggestions based on your assessment outcomes (more information on our website).
Finally, those who completed the assessment can join the exclusive Skills Weaving Community on LinkedIn, where you can engage with others who have participated in the Skills Weaving assessment, trainings, and events. In this community, we will regularly share further resources that are relevant to academic career advancement.
We are confident that Skills Weaving will guide you on your way towards achieving career ambitions.