Job Search (applying for jobs, and placement conferences)

So this is the first post of many on a variety of topics relevant to current SA grads and new professionals. This one is more geared at 2nd year grads who are now starting the job search. I focused a bit more on the placement exchange aspect, but will revisit some of the basics of applying for jobs in a later post. Lessons learned as a new professional is on the horizon as well.

You will see below that I have gone with the wall of text approach. Otherwise known as the brain-dump, enjoy, that will most likely not change. As always all grammar, spelling, or proofreading mistakes were intentional.

Don’t forget if you have a question click the question mark at the top of the page.

  • None of this is gospel, be choosey with what you believe
  • Don’t limit anything, being open to taking a job anywhere in the country is so freeing, and gives you so much latitude.
  • If you have a set plan in January you truly are fooling yourself, so much changes in a job search, if you are flexible and willing to see an opportunity it will come. The best way to not get a job is to block things because it’s not part of your already set plan, which has no connection to anything other than your pride.
  • Prepare for your interviews, and be real about who you are
  • Create interview packets for yourself, with detailed information about each school you are interviewing for. Should include institutional, and departmental mission, things that interest you about them, things you really should know about them, and thoughtful questions
  • If you are planning to go to a placement exchange OPE, TPE, SPE, any other E. Make sure you’re a filling out your profile on their site. Employers regularly read those and offer interviews based on that alone. Upload your resume and write intelligently about your plans. You will get around 20 interview offers with only about an hour’s worth of work.
  • Don’t take every interview, every conference there is some kid that has 50, who practically lives in the waiting room, then fails miserably in every one because they aren’t prepped. Know your limits.
  • Go through interview bootcamp with your current supervisor. They know you, ask the questions of them that you have trouble answering yourself. “What are my weaknesses” is always a good one.
  • Get your “Tell me about yourself” down, every interview has that question at the start. Don’t make it a biography, but be able to say who you are, where you are from, your experience, your mission, your goals, and why you are an asset to them. You can get all of this done in 2 minutes.
  • I referenced mission above, have a personal mission statement, know what you stand for and what you are looking to do. This is a great Ted talk on that subject and how to start creating one for yourself: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html
  • Have as many people as possible that you trust read your resume, and only use some of their feedback. You know what you want your resume to look like; don’t get pushed around by other’s opinions. But those perspectives are important because they ask things that you might not see.
  • Ask for example cover letters from people you admire. If they are great in their job now, they most likely have a wonderful cover letter. Ask if you can see it, or use it as a template.
  • Google “typical interview questions” and start creating outlines for questions for every one you see.
  • I say outlines for a reason. Don’t be robotic. You might be at the table next to your previous interview, how awkward would it be to answer their questions in the exact same way you did not 30 minutes ago.
  • Take Strengths-quest and use your strengths as frames to answer questions. If Adaptability is your #1, you should explain how you use it when asked about how you handle crisis. (you don’t have to use all 5, but having a strong theme of utilizing 3 of them in your daily work is awesome)
  • All these tests, Myers-Briggs, Strengths-quest, True Colors, are useless unless you are able to apply them.
  • Don’t name drop theorists. Sanford (1966) was Challenge and Support, but explains what that means to you.
  • Use theory if you know it in your answers, but as above, don’t name drop without explaining how you use them and your thoughts
  • Be who you are, if you aren’t assessment heavy don’t claim to be. If they hire you on that notion, expect to be drastically behind, and look like a jerk.
  • The questions you ask near the end of the interview is the last impression you leave with someone you are interviewing with, treat them like that. There is nothing worse than rocking the interview, then asking, “So do you like your job?”
  • Remember when answering social justice questions, that diversity is more than race. Sadly this needs to be said.
  • Be as authentic as you can during your interviews, people on the other side of the table can see fakeness from a mile away.
  • If you are at a placement exchange, schools come get you in various ways, some say your name, or others just hold up a plush toy of their mascots. Be vigilant, and know the mascots
  • After you are picked up you are walked to the interview table, it could be a long walk, and kinda awkward, have something to say or talk about, even a joke. In this case silence isn’t golden.
  • At placement don’t talk about how things are going so great for you, and all the schools you are interviewing with. First no one cares. Secondly you come off as arrogant. Be humble and talk about other things with your peers.
  • It’s student affairs everyone knows everyone, which is a blessing and a curse, tread carefully
  • Don’t be creepy with your research. You might have googled the director and know that they shared an undergraduate class with your mentor 10 years ago. Don’t drop that info during the first interview.
  • You will bomb in at least one interview. It’s okay.
  • Interviewing is about fit, you may be the most qualified candidate they see that day, and they won’t ask for a 2nd round. Again it’s okay.
  • Your first perception of an institution during your first interview is usually wrong; take a 2nd round if you are offered it. Unless you have a hard reason not to, not just a feeling.
  • At placement there are a variety of socials and dinners for schools to court candidates, go to them, but don’t feel you have to stay the whole time. If you have a crazy day of interviews the next day it’s more important that you sleep than staying till the place closes. Pop in, say hello, meet some new folks, and move on.
  • Write your thank you notes at the conference, making sure right after you walk away from the table you note the people you spoke with and something special they offered. Usually an answer to one of your questions
  • It’s okay to do electronic thank you notes. Actually most prefer it as it’s sustainable. Plus it’s easier to crank out in between interviews.