About

Sarah Blackford is an internationally recognised career consultant with over 25 years’ experience working in the field of Higher Education career development. Qualified with a master’s degree in career education and guidance in Higher Education (MA CIEGHE, Warwick University) and author of the book, ‘Career planning for research bioscientists‘, Sarah’s consultancy offers career guidance and coaching to students, researchers and academics looking for professional assistance with their careers, whether it’s planning for a career move, considering career options or improving professional performance.

A registered member of the Career Development Institute (CDI) and Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), all of her training is conducted within a professional and ethical code of practice.  Through individualized career guidance interviews (usually one-hour) in person or via Skype, or bespoke career development webinars and F2F courses (ranging from 1-2 days), Sarah offers the opportunity for personal and professional reflection, career planning and management with the aim of helping people to move forward and take positive action. Training is directed primarily at European universities and research institutes in discussion with the development manager or academic host, with all courses underpinned by recognised career theory.

Career development courses cover a range of topics (see ‘Career Services‘ for a full list) including the following:

  • Job-seeking strategies for non-academic careers including increasing familiarity with the non-academic career sector, understanding what employers want and what you have to offer as well as how to find and secure a position.
  • How to make informed decisions about your next career transition and career choice.
  • Enhancing self-awareness: professional and personal skills analysis; personality [I am a qualified MBTI practitioner (Steps I and II); work values; considering other career decision influences].
  • Effective networking, self-presentation and communication skills;
  • How to write a CV and cover letter for different types of jobs and roles.
  • Successful interview technique, including the purpose and types of interviews, how to respond to questions in an impactful way with plenty of opportunity for practice and peer learning.

Additional training topics include academic mobility, negotiation, time management and work: life balance and other “in-role” career development.

For more information and to discuss training opportunities contact me at: sarah@biosciencecareers.org

Examples of feedback

I just wanted to say again how helpful I found the conversation we had. I thought you were really insightful not just about the process of a PhD and what it takes to be an academic, but also about me as a person.

I really enjoyed the webinar yesterday, I’ve attended a lot of webinars over the past few weeks and you are definitely the most engaging presenter so far! Not an easy thing to do during a webinar.

I would like to thank you so much for all the advice about CV and cover letters. It has made quite a difference with my job hunting (I have received a few phone calls). I have just landed my first interview, which I am quite impressed since I have seriously started applying for about 2 weeks.

I found the webinar to be very interesting and useful and was very grateful for the opportunity to speak to Sarah one on one to discuss my career progression and the options available to me.

I liked the tools as a ready reference scheme for identifying our core strengths and application areas.

Thanks again for the tips and advice regarding job search and interview techniques. I am very glad to tell you that I have been called in for an interview next week. I wanted to thank you again for you guidance – it was very useful to get the CV in a suitable format.

Background

Having started my career in research at York University, followed by five years in scientific publishing, I switched career paths into careers advisory work in Higher Education working as a careers adviser at Lancaster and Leeds University Career Services. Between 1998 and 2017, I worked as the Head of Education and Public Affairs for a scientific learned society where I was responsible for education, policy, science communication and career development. During this time, I built up a wealth of knowledge and expertise, delivering career workshops and offering coaching and guidance primarily to PhD students and postdoctoral researchers.

In 2017 I left my post to set up my PhD career Consultancy so that I could focus on my passion for career development. Self-employment is challenging, but also exhilarating and rewarding. It gives you the opportunity to be creative and adventurous, whilst developing your business acumen. It’s important to engage and collaborate with others when you’re self-employed, so that you don’t get isolated or fall behind with latest advances in your specialist field. I attend meetings and conferences to keep in touch with others in my profession and have been an invited speaker at several career events.

In 2014, I co-founded Careers Advisers supporting Researchers in Europe (CARE), with Dr Barbara Janssens (DKFZ, Heidelberg), which brings together experts from around Europe and beyond. I’ve also published several research papers, and authored my first book in 2013,  ‘Career Planning for Research Bioscientists’.  My advice and resources are available on this blog and you can also view my profile on LinkedIn and Researchgate.

Please feel free to get in touch to discuss any career support or advice you think I can help you with: sarah@biosciencecareers.org

MY LOGO

My logo is the picture on the front cover of my book and is an image very kindly gifted to me by photographer, Tom Donald. This bird, flapping hard and just in the process of taking off, I thought represents a great metaphor for the work we put in to get our careers off the ground and flying !

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