Job searching can be slightly different for anyone who is looking for that ‘perfect fit.’ I have to admit I was a tad bit naive during the beginning of my job search process. In time, though, I lost my ‘nervousness’ and ‘gooey eyes.’ I began to understand the process and begin to get down to business. So, here is a Top Five List of Job Searching Strategies. These top five tips are the ‘ideas and insights’ that are helping me get through my current job searching. If you want to know the background story of who I am, please check out my first blog posting.
1. The Phone Interview
The art of a phone interview is one learned over time. It’s like a dance with many steps and with enough practice; the dance becomes fluid, natural, and ends with a great overture of applause at the end.
Conduct your phone interview in a quiet place with no distractions and preferably, a landline because let’s face it; drop calls are the norm these days.
Have the job description in front of you with notes about the department, university, and any other facts that will help you understand the university as a whole.
Your resume should be nearby as it will guide you through the interview and provide you with key words to highlight your experiences and help you answer their questions.
Above all, try to be yourself and see this as an opportunity to let your personality shine. I have had search committees conduct professional interviews and not so professional interviews. You really have to just have a go with the flow and truly expect all sorts of questions, but more importantly, always stay true to yourself.
Finally, it’s important to reflect with a family member, peer, or colleague after a phone interview so you know what strategies to keep for next time. Sometimes when I thought I did horrible during a phone interview, I was called for an on- campus interview. You just never know what the search committee interprets and what you interpret.
2. On-Campus Interview
Naturally, the on-campus interview is a great way for you to see the campus, the culture, the staff, faculty and community in living color.
Remember you’re on an interview from the time you step off that plane, car, bus, train until you leave to go back home.
Student Affairs is a very small world and you never know who will be listening or seeing you in person.
Also keep in mind, the entire time that you’re interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.Over the course of my three year job search, I have had eight on campus interviews. And I have had both unprofessional and professional on campus interviews given by universities. It just happens and we can’t pretend it doesn’t.
Still, in those unprofessional situations, you have to just remain yourself throughout the entire process and not blow off the interview just because you don’t like the environment. Organizations change all the time and you could end up working with a whole new group of people someday who used to work at that particular institution.
This piece of advice, believe it or not, has been the hardest part for me. I am a shy person by nature so at the beginning of my job search, I was very reluctant to network and ask for help. Soon I realized, though, that networking was the only way to get my name on peoples’ radar and to let them know that I am job searching.
I started with Twitter where I was introduced by a friend who, in-turn, introduced me to #sachat, weekly chat. This chat, #sachat weekly chat, invites student affair professionals from across the country to participate in a thought-provoking discussion guided by a series of questions. I have met a wonderful group of student affair professionals through twitter and I am very thankful to for their support.
I have also been a member or NASPA since 2010 and I have recently joined as a board member of a Knowledge Community to keep my membership active.
Mentoring is something that really keeps my sanity. When I have someone I can vent to and seek advice from, I can settle a lot of my fears about this job search. I have about four mentors who are at different stages of their student affairs career which gives me a very well-rounded viewpoint.
I am thankful for their encouraging, tweets, phone calls, emails and cheerleading attitude because it gets me by on a daily basis. It’s important to seek out at least one mentor who is a professional in our field that can be your guide and professional confidant.
My entire family, have been really supportive through my job search. I currently reside with my parents and it’s not easy going back into the household after four years of living on your own during college. However, I am really glad to be able to have a place where I feel safe and secure.
It has been adventure for everyone who has continued to be my cheerleader and knows that one day the cycle will break. You just have to believe in your skill set and know that this journey will have ups and downs, a complete emotional roller coaster that you just have to accept.
In conclusion, these strategies may seem like a no- brainer, but I don’t think you can truly put these strategies to use and realize their potential benefit until you’re actively looking for a job.
Above all, I think it’s important to really ‘go with the flow during’ job interviews. We all get so caught up in ‘landing the job’ and trying to say everything during our interview that is ‘smart and witty’, that we tend to forget the reality of everyday living.
The reality is that your job search might be a long process, involving many bumps along the road.
I think it’s important to continue to be an advocate for YOU along the way. Find part time positions at a university and/or enroll in an internship at your local college.
I tend to give this advice to people who are new to the job search and the student affairs field in general. I usually, though, just get blank stares back in-return. They say things like “this will never happen to me. I will never get a part time position and/or an internship at a local college.” I say, don’t judge a situation until you can picture yourself in the shoes of someone, an employer and/or college administrator who needs help and/or has a new job in mind. You never know until you try….
I am currently a board member of the Student Leader Programs NASPA Knowledge Community and I am working at an internship. That is one of the reasons I am so happy to be a part of #emchat and the student affair twitter community. Even though I don’t have a full time job, my advocacy keeps me grounded and believing that something will break my way as I continue to search for a position in a field I enjoy so much - College Student Affairs.