Careers Service

Reflective and self-aware

Reflective and self-aware

Being reflective and self-aware means understanding yourself: your motivations, values, skills and strengths. It’s also about identifying and recognising areas you need to develop and how you can improve.

Having this ability means you can: 

  • critically assess your own knowledge, values, qualities, skills and behaviours
  • reflect on your experiences and learn from them to inform and guide your own personal and professional development
  • clearly recognise your own strengths and weaknesses
  • be confident in articulating your skills and abilities to others
  • see yourself as others see you 

How can you become more reflective and self-aware? 

These are just some examples of what you can do to become more reflective and self-aware, both in your academic life and outside university.   

On your course

  • Request and listen actively to feedback from lecturers and team members – both positive and negative. What did you do particularly well? What could be improved?
  • Keep a record of your experiences in NU Reflect, including meetings, assessments and grades, and keep track of your development during your studies. You can also use it to reflect on the extra-curricular activities you do as part of the ncl+ Award
  • Reflect on these experiences, rather than just describe them – ask yourself questions, for example, ‘how do I know this?’, ‘what did I learn?’, ‘what would I change?’.
  • Visit the Academic Skills Kit (ASK) website for advice on developing reflective practice, including reviewing your current study practice and approach to learning.
  • Assess your information skills and identify any areas you want to improve using the Library's Undergraduate Skills Audit.
  • Sign up for a careers module. Part of the assessment includes written work, reflecting on your experiences, the skills you gained, your achievements - all useful for applying for jobs and further study in the future!

Outside your course

  • You could also ask for feedback and constructive criticism from employers, friends or family. Reflect and take on board any valuable suggestions - it can help to listen to alternative perspectives.
  • Take part in mock assessment centres with the Careers Service and have a go at a practice video interview to build your confidence and gain feedback to help you improve your performance.
  • Get advice on your CV and applications to help you reflect on your skills and experiences and identify any gaps in these – you can book an online appointment or submit a query via MyCareer.
  • Complete our Skills Audit (PDF: 234KB) to assess your current skills and speak to a careers consultant to explore your strengths and the skills you want to develop.
  • Register for a free FutureLearn online course on studying and reflecting from the University of Leeds and discover tools that can help you reflect on your learning.
  • Read about self-awareness and how to develop it through this useful article from the University of Warwick.
  • Have a go at an online personality test to further understand yourself. Discover what motivates you, what your workstyle is like, or just use them as a fun way to learn more about yourself. You can find links to some personality tests on our website and on Graduates First.
  • Read books or articles, subscribe to educational YouTube channels and search for inspiring talks about self-awareness on

Related skills: Curious, critical thinker


Student with notebook, looking reflective