With placement exchange fast approaching there are some easily overlooked items that will drastically change your search. I am focusing a bit on TPE in particular, because that was my experience, but most of this applies to other placement exchanges as well. So excuse my use of the term TPE when I am referring to exchanges as whole.
Fill out your TPE Profile
I cannot recommend this enough. Your TPE profile is super important. So many institutions comb through potential employee’s records just like you go through job postings. If they see something they like they will email you an offer to either apply for their position or interview.
I would never have interviewed for my current position at GWU if my profile had not been updated. I didn’t see myself living in DC, and thus ignored most postings in that region; but two weeks before the conference I got an offer to interview. It was a great school, and totally worth 30 minutes of my time. Now it’s where I call home.
There are a few sections where you can express yourself. Take advantage of those, and don’t just replicate your cover letter. There’s a box for experience, here’s mine as an example:
I have been fortunate enough to grasp opportunities that have challenged my abilities and influenced my growth. I have served in a housing role in a variety of positions and locations across the country, and use that diversity of experience in my daily work. I am always seeking new opportunities to better myself as a professional; along with unique ways to positively influence students.
You are limited to 75 words so make them count. There’s an additional box where it asks for a summary. Just another great way to display your passions.
Upload your Resume to TPE
Just like the section above employers regularly go through your profile, give them a chance to see if you are qualified for their position without you even applying.
Don’t ignore the learning modules on the site
Are some things they talk about common sense? Sure, but you don’t want to be the one person who shows up in a metaphorical denim suit to interview days. It’s worth the time hearing the things you know with the chance that you might learn something vital to getting your next job.
Be ready for phone interviews as First Rounds
Quite a few institutions do phone interviews before the conference. If you apply for a job, and list that you are going to a placement conference it’s still very possible that they will want to do a phone interview. So practice your hello (seriously if you pick up the phone sounding like you just woke-up it’s super awkward for the first 10 minutes. Not speaking from experience or anything…).
Talk to your friends in the field about what you want
There are so many postings out there it always helps having an extra eye out for what could be your dream job. If you are in grad school now most everyone is searching, help each other out and share postings. No reason to hide what you are looking for.
Set real expectations for the amount of interviews you will take
Know that you will be tired, you will be stressed, and you have to be on it for interview days. Take stock of how you approach these type of situations and try and find the best fit for you. I am relatively low energy and pretty mellow, so I took 10, splitting them up for the first two days. It gave me the scope I wanted yet I had time to do my research. The number is different for everyone. I would advise against agreeing to every interview, you won’t remember enough to interview well.Also don’t forget to set aside time to grab lunch, go to the bathroom, and write thank you notes (which can be emailed too).
Things to remember
If you got an interview offer from a school, and there is no way you will ever accept it. Don’t ignore it, reply back “Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview with your institution, but I feel I must respectfully decline. Thank you so much, -Awesome Candidate”
You don’t have to agonize about letting them down easy, or finding the right way to say you wouldn’t be caught dead within 10 miles of their school. Just say no, but leave the door open for opportunities in the future.
That’s it for now.
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All grammar, spelling, or proofreading mistakes were intentional.