Managing Your Career

Harvard values employees and views continuous learning and opportunities for growth as a way to align the needs of the institution with the skills, interests and abilities of our workforce. Our career development philosophy is that career development is a process where employees strategically explore, plan and create their future paths with feedback and guidance from their managers and information and resources from the University.

Monthly Career Conversation Meetings for Staff

Current Harvard staff (must have Harvard Staff ID) are invited to participate in Career Conversation Meetings across Harvard which will take place at local HR offices, on the third Thursday of each month (except December) from 2-4 p.m. Upcoming dates:

May 18 August 17
June 15 Sept. 21
July 20  

You must sign up in advance for these one-on-one discussions by submitting a brief questionnaire to the local HR office that you wish to meet with directly. You will receive a confirmed time for a 15-30 minute meeting. For the list of participating schools and units and to submit a meeting request click here. You may attend one or all of these sessions by visiting different schools or central departments. (Please schedule only one meeting per month.)

What can you learn by attending a Career Conversation meeting? These sessions give you the opportunity to meet one-on-one with local HR officers so you can learn more about Harvard’s schools and departments, including key initiatives and work environments, and explore your career interests, expand your professional network and strengthen future applications. You can learn more in this FAQ.

You must prepare in advance for these sessions – please see this Preparation Checklist for details and review these Quick Resume Tips so that you have an up-to-date, effective resume to bring to the meeting.

If you have any questions related to Career Conversation Meetings, please contact

Harvard's Career Development Model

Harvard uses a simple but comprehensive model for career management. The model breaks a complex and often daunting process into three clear areas, allowing you to focus and set achievable goals.

While it's true that a “cookie cutter” approach will not define your career, a simple model can help sort through the main points of career development. It can help you identify where in the career development process you need to focus.

The model has three major phases:

Looking Inward

Looking Inward – at your values, interests, skills and reputation

Looking Inward is about self assessment—one of the critically important steps in career management. Taking the time to examine your values, interests, skills and reputation has many purposes, including:

  • Evaluating whether your work aligns with who you are, what you believe and what you enjoy doing.

  • Identifying your key marketable skills and the people who can substantiate those skills.

  • If you are starting the job hunt, doing this kind of assessment will help you build the vocabulary to target a profession and market yourself for jobs.

Looking Outward

Looking Outward – at local and national employment trends, Harvard's workforce statistics and your network

After Looking Inward, it is important to take the next step—Looking Outward, where you spend some time gathering information to help you understand the world of work around you. Looking Outward involves learning about:

  • Your current or future profession–skills, education and experienced needed to be successful, both as a candidate and in the profession
  • Workforce trends (national, local and at Harvard)–how many and what kinds of jobs are available both at Harvard and beyond in your areas of interest
  • Your network, both in person and via Linked In and how to utilize it

Looking Forward

Looking Forward – at your options, at integrating what you've discovered and at goals and action steps

Once you have had the opportunity to think about your career in terms of Looking Inward and Looking Outward, it is time to start pulling the pieces together. It often takes time to sort through everything that you have learned; we encourage you to do this by generating options, setting goals and then taking action once you are fairly certain about your career goals. Since the most common action is to begin the job search, this section focuses on the following steps in the process:

  • Preparation for the job hunt, including resumes, cover letters and interviews
  • Job Search tools and websites
  • Formulating both a Plan A and a Plan B for your next career steps

Model adapted from: Promoting a Development Culture in Your Organization, Peggy Simonsen, 1997.

Career Courses and Tools

Harvard offers a number of development tools and materials online to help you enhance your career, whatever your schedule. Other CWD courses and programs provide in-person options for learning.

A foundational course in career management is Career Roadmaps (next sessions are March 3 and 10, 2017 and June 13 and 15, 2017), which offers participants a comprehensive and intensive career analysis experience. This course provides assessments and discussion opportunities for you to explore and consider what values and experiences are most important to you in your work as you prepare to take your next career step. Other instructor-led career development/management courses include:

View the full CWD class schedule, then register through the Harvard Training Portal, where you will also find pre-work and detailed class information.

Recorded Online Programs: You can watch these career development programs anytime, presented by Harvard training staff.

Harvard’s Career Landscape

At Harvard you have the opportunity to work in a wide variety of professions and areas of specialty. Each Harvard job is classified into one of 16 job functions, which are then further sub-divided into job families. With this many categories, it can sometimes be hard to navigate the possibilities at Harvard. Current employees are encouraged to visit HARVie, where they can find a Harvard Job Function Guide and Quick Reference tools to learn more about each profession and their respective specialty areas.