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Individualized Development Plan (IDP) - Postdoctoral Researchers

Individualized Development Plan (IDP) - Postdoctoral Researchers

The Faculty of Graduate Studies' IDP is a tool to assist postdoctoral researchers, like you, to identify and develop your goals during your fellowship.

When creating an IDP, with the help of a mentor, you can enhance your professional growth and skills by:

  • Setting and communicating goals related to teaching, research, and/or professional development with your supervisor, faculty colleagues, or other mentors
  • Identifying ways to learn or improve your competencies to be used during your graduate work and within professional spaces
  • Identifying your strengths, talents, and passions, as well as opportunities to use them during your studies and in your future professional life while building an effective support network


Looking back while planning for the future

Setting Goals

Clarifying the knowledge and skills you need

Exploring Opportunities

Developing a strategy for realizing your plan


Acting on your plan to achieve your goals


Revisit to update your goals and engagement activities

Download the IDP

Revisit your IDP to update your goals and engagement activities throughout the year, at time intervals you/your mentor deem most appropriate.


Download the IDP (Abridged Version)

This IDP is an abridged version that has been designed for postdoctoral researchers who prefer a more streamlined option compared to the full IDP based on their individual preferences.

Creating an IDP

The IDP includes a self-assessment worksheet for postdoctoral researchers to reflect on their recent activities and future goals.

  • An IDP can be used to communicate your professional development and career planning needs and intentions to others, including your supervisor. This can lead to helpful advice, resources and connections.
  • In the postdoctoral researcher-supervisory relationship, the IDP can be used to ensure that you and your supervisor both understand and are in agreement with the expectations of the progress of your work. This is especially important near the end of your fellowship.

As you work on your IDP, asking for support from a mentor or your supervisor (who may also be your mentor) is encouraged. We recommend revisiting your IDP at least once a year in order to assess any activities and outcomes and to revise your plans and expectations for the future.

To help you to complete the self-assessment and engagement sections, we encourage you to draw on the information and resources available through the Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Skills (GPPS) webpage. Your supervisor will also be able to provide further information about professional skills opportunities offered through your department, and may also be able to suggest concrete examples of activities and goals that are relevant to your field.

How to Begin

     For Postdoctoral ResearchersFor Mentors
Step 1 Conduct self-assessmentBecome familiar with available career opportunities
Step 2     Draft and share goals with your mentor and adviseReview IDP and provide suggestions/general feedback
Step 3Survey various engagement opportunities with your mentorDiscuss engagement opportunities
Step 4      Implement the plan and revise IDP as needed, at least annuallyEstablish regular reviews of progress and help revise the IDP as needed, at least annually

Reflecting and reviewing your values, interests, and skills is an ideal place to begin a discussion of the kinds of professional skills training needed to supplement your research work as well as an important step in identifying potential professional pursuits. There are a number of resources available to postdoctoral researchers that may help you better understand your goals and priorities, including online tools as well as advising available through the Career Centre (Contact: Susan Pogue, Career Counsellor).

The IDP includes a self-assessment worksheet for postdoctoral researchers to reflect on their recent activities and future goals.

The first step is to identify your future goals and understand what competencies and skills you will need to achieve these goals. The Graduate & Postdoctoral Professional Skills (GPPS) program is divided into six broad areas to connect you to opportunities and resources that will help you develop your professional plans and goals, and strategically meet those goals:

Career Exploration and Planning

There exist a variety of versatile career options for those with advanced degrees. Learning the tools required to evaluate career options, and the skills needed to enter those careers, will help you transition to new opportunities.


An important aspect of the expertise one refines as part of postdoctoral research is the ability to effectively communicate information through writing and other mediums. What are some techniques for improving written and oral communication to professional colleagues or to laypersons?

Health and Wellness

A variety of campus and community services are available to support and enhance the well-being of scholars during one’s academic pursuits.

Managing Time and Resources

It is difficult to balance the demands of life and work, but there are strategies that can be used to help manage time more effectively.

Research Dissemination

The importance of research isn’t limited to other scholars. What are the tools and techniques that help translate academic work into other contexts?


The skills learned when leading a classroom or advising junior researchers (graduate students, undergraduate researchers, research assistants, etc.) are skills that can be relevant in many other contexts, such as public speaking, formulating plans, and interpersonal skills.

There exist several IDP-related tools to better understand and map your personal strengths and skills. Each tool includes a self-assessment of skills, interests, and values; goal-setting guidelines; and reference to skill-building and career exploration resources. Each of these tools are free to use.

  • ImaginePhD is a career exploration and planning tool for the humanities and social sciences.
    • Assess your career-related skills, interests, and values
    • Explore career paths appropriate to your disciplines
    • Create self-defined goals
    • Map out the next steps for career and professional development success
  • myIDP is a career exploration and planning tool for STEM. myIDP provides:
    • Exercises to help you examine your skills, interests, and values
    • A list of 20 scientific career paths with a prediction of which ones best fit your skills and interests
    • A tool for setting strategic goals for the coming year, with optional reminders to keep you on track
    • Articles and resources to guide you through the process
  • Beyond the Professoriate is a PhD career training platform. This is a more career-focused tool.
    • Know your options and find your optimal career pathway
    • Learn how to master the foundational framework for PhD career transitions
    • Execute a job search with proven PhD job search strategies
    • Build your new career and professional sphere

Your supervisor is the individual directly connected to your research and their principal task consists of helping you realize your scholarly potential and professional aspirations. You are encouraged to engage with your supervisor early and often on your IDP to inform your ongoing conversations and career planning.

The Career Centre offers one-on-one appointments that can help you identify and pursue career paths both inside and outside academe, improve your job search, and discuss career transition opportunities. Contact Susan Pogue, Career Counsellor, directly at to schedule an appointment.

If you do not feel that any of the individuals listed above are most suitable based on your listed goals and/or you would prefer to discuss your IDP with the Faculty of Graduate Studies, please contact the Associate Director, Graduate Academic Affairs to discuss this further. The Faculty of Graduate Studies can also assist in connecting you with various supports relevant to your individual pursuits.