Looking for a job in higher education is time-intensive, stressful, and incredibly complicated. After months of resume tweaks, cover letter writing, anxious waiting, more waiting, phone interviews, Skype interviews, and job interviews, I found the perfect job for me. Preparation and patience led me to a position at an institution I wanted to work at, a functional area I wanted to be in, and the geographical area that was my first choice. The more intentional and prepared you are for your job search, the more successful you will be. While each individual search has it’s own challenges, there are ways to set yourself up for success in your search. As I learned, searching can be especially stressful and tough for graduate students entering the field for the first time. Here are my top tips to consider if you are job searching in higher education:
- Little details first. Update your resume. Ask others to look over it. Tailor your resume and cover letter to each position. Triple-check spelling and grammar.
- Stay organized! Keep track of applications you are working on or have submitted. Use this google spreadsheet to track your applications if you want. Just go to “file – make a copy” to start a new one.
- Prioritize. Think about functional area, location, and institutional type. What is most important to you? How long are you willing to wait for the job you want? Create a matrix to manage competing priorities. This is a great way to map out each month and eliminate stress during the waiting game or beginning months. Patrick Love explained how to do this in a video on his blog. I used this technique for my job search and stayed focused on my priorities. I knew when I was going to start looking outside of my preferred functional area, location, etc. and followed this plan to keep on track.
- Ask for advice. Talk to mentors, friends, and colleagues about your job search. Ask individuals you trust to read your resume and provide feedback. Get feedback on a cover letter. Hold informational interviews with mentors or professionals at your institution to discuss your future and your career path. Ask people you know through Twitter for help; one person I found incredibly helpful was Mallory Bower. Everyone has an opinion about resumes, cover letters, interview etiquette, etc. I chose to collect as much information as possible and then decide for myself what I believed was best. I often heard contradictory opinions, but it was helpful to hear all the different perspectives and then make an educated decision about what was best for me.
- Manage your digital presence. Google yourself and see what shows up because I guarantee people are going to be googling you. Create a LinkedIn profile if you don’t already have one and make sure it is updated with a professional headshot and accurate information. LinkedIn is an easy and free way to share your professional accomplishments online.
- Engage your network. Make sure your contacts, friends, and colleagues know that you are searching. Tell them when you apply for jobs near them, at their alma mater, at institutions where they used to work, or at institutions where they are currently employed. This is very important, because hiring managers are getting numerous applications and others that know you and can vouch for you will help you move forward.
What would you add to this list? What helped you have a successful job search? If you are currently searching I hope this was helpful and good luck! Don’t give up! (wise words from Jimmy V)
PS – I enjoy reviewing and offering feedback on resumes and cover letters. If you’re interested, email me a copy of yours and I will be happy to provide feedback.