Planning your career

As an early career psychologist it is important to plan your career path and set professional goals. Successful career planning requires keeping abreast of developments in the profession, establishing and maintaining strong professional networks, and committing to ongoing professional development to continue to build relevant skills and remain current.

To assist you in planning and building your career, the following resources may be helpful:

Career planning

Planning your career is not only important but likely to require reflection and some adjustment at various time-points from commencement to retirement. A number of key questions are included here to encourage you to be aware of your motivations, as well as your strengths and weaknesses as you consider your career trajectory over the next five to ten years.

Why psychology?

It can be helpful to remind yourself why you have chosen a career in psychology. Being clear about the reasons for your career choice can be helpful in a number of ways from assisting you to select appropriate employment opportunities to providing greater clarity in responding to job interview questions.

What key interests and strengths do you bring to the psychology profession?

Generating a list of your interests and strengths will provide a good foundation for career planning. Being familiar with these will assist you to identify suitable job opportunities and provide some guidance to longer-term planning (see next question). In addition, being familiar with your strengths will help prepare you to answer the often asked interview question, “Describe three key strengths that you would bring to this role.”

From a career perspective, where do you see yourself in five years’ time (or in ten years’ time)?

Projecting forward five or ten years can have a profound impact on the career choices you make now. If establishing your own practice is seen as a goal within five years, or you plan for more responsibility and leadership within an academic or research position within a seven-year time period, these goals are likely to influence the work choices you make now. Maintaining a five-year (or ten-year) career vision can be a valuable tool throughout your journey as a psychologist from commencement to retirement.

Landing a job

As an early career psychologist or psychology professional, securing employment will be key to advancing along your career pathway. To put yourself in the best position for success, there are a number of steps you can take to be well prepared ahead of the job search process, and to be ready to land the job once the opportunity arises.

Whether you are seeking your first position or thinking about transitioning into a new job to advance along your career pathway, the following tips are provided to help you land that next job!

Preparing your CV and cover letter

Review and update your CV and prepare a generic cover letter

Supporting information

  • Identify and notify your referees that you are entering the job market
  • Request University transcripts if relevant
  • Select work samples if required - e.g., publications, reports (de-identified)

Professional identity

  • Consider joining LinkedIn and establishing your professional profile. If you are already on, be sure to keep your profile updated. Sign up or login to LinkedIn
  • Check your social media profile to ensure only relevant material is accessible

Interview tips

Interviewing well is an important part of landing the job you want. Thankfully, a simple internet search can produce a range of helpful information and tips on successfully preparing for interviews.

Take a minute to search, and review the more specific interview tips developed by both the APS and the APA.

Shaping your professional development plan

Continuing professional development (CPD) is a requirement for maintaining registration with the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA), as well as a condition for maintaining membership of the APS.

CPD is vital to ensuring that you remain informed and up-to-date on advances in psychological theory and research, and developments in evidence-based practice. CPD also plays an important role in safeguarding continued competence in the provision of professional services.

Shaping your professional development plan should include:

  • Creating a CPD learning plan that addresses individualised goals and learning needs.
  • Maintaining records of CPD undertaken across each 12 month time period via a CPD hard-copy ledger and/or online logging tool.

Awards and recognition

The APS has a number of dedicated early career awards in the research and teaching areas that are awarded on an annual basis. It is worthwhile familiarising yourself with these award opportunities and consider submitting an application should one of the awards fit with your background and early career experience and achievements.

Read about our 2014 early career award recipients.