I haven’t been super great about blogging recently. I know that. While I have a valid excuse, it is one of my new year’s resolutions to start blogging more consistently. Especially with the chaos of the semester kicking in and the job search hitting hard, I know this aspect of self care will be crucial.
I’ll work on it!
Meanwhile, what I really want to talk about tonight is THE JOB SEARCH *cue horror music* Okay yes it is here, but it’s really not that scary! (Famous last words?)
As I have publicized, this blog is a way for me to share my #SAGrad life in a real and raw way. Well friends, the intense time is among us. Although I want to make sure I use this blog as a reflection and self care tool for myself, I hope that it can be a resource or comfort to my other friends going through the job process as well! After all….
Okay, cheesy moment over. Let’s get to the real stuff.
I’ve already been on the job search. Some people think I’m way too early and some people make me think I’m late to the game, but that is beside the point. Here is what I have learned so far:
It is never “too early” to start the job search process.
I started at the end of fall semester. “Well Amanda, jobs aren’t posted yet! How did you start?” Good question. First, I created my job tracking spreadsheet (see below for more information). Second, I started creating my profiles for TPE and HigherEdJobs, inputting my information, and signing up for notifications. Third, I started brainstorming about what schools I wanted, where I wanted to be located, etc. My boyfriend will be joining me in the future, so I am considering him during the job process and need to plan accordingly. Fourth, I have discussed my job search plan with my supervisor, my mother, my boyfriend, my NASPA mentor, my NACA mentor, my other NACA mentor, etc. Talking about the process and my plan with others help me gain clarification on what I want, what my priorities are, and allows them to give me excellent advise of what to keep in mind. I know how I get stressed out easily, so I am taking every moment I can now to prevent myself from feeling overwhelmed later. Do it now so you don’t have to worry about it later!
Review your resume. Review review review. Have someone else review. Then review it again.
I never stop updating my resume. When I get something new, I update it right away. I’ve been working on updating my resume for job applications for months. Why? Because it’s never fully updated. There is probably always something that I can change in my resume. I have had my same template for months and just noticed TODAY that my bullet points change sizes. Yes, even the little details you can easily gloss over. I have given out my resume like it was free candy to have anyone and everyone look it over. Don’t let a silly mistake or typo be the reason someone throws you out of a candidate pool! (Side note for other #SAGrads that are registered for TPE Onsite– TPE offers a free resume review. Take advantage of it!)
Be overly organized, until you feel like you’re too organized.
I created a Google Spreadsheet in November that is titled “Job Search Chart” that goes from column A to column AB (yes 28 column) that has all the details I could need to keep track of all my potential positions. (Example of the columns: position title, institution, city, state, due date, institution size, job type, employer ID, status, link, username and password for each institution’s HR website, qualifications, pay, etc.) It may seem a little ridiculous, but it helps me keep track of positions that I want to apply for, have applied for and am waiting to hear back from, and positions that I was denied or declined. Sometimes it feels too organized: but when I am able to click a link and know my username and password or be able to compare different job postings, it makes it a lot easier to digest the difference between jobs and help me prioritize what I want from my future employer. I also have a numbering system for application numbers to link the information on that spreadsheet to the institution, and that position to my cover letter, resume, and references for that specific position. Everything has a number. Not only do I stay organized this way, but I reduce the chance of accidentally submitting the wrong cover letter or resume! (My biggest fear) But I also save. every. file. That way when I am interviewing with an institution, I can pull up that version of my resume or cover letter and remember what information I provided, and see if there are any gaps I need to fill.
Trust your gut.
If a position doesn’t completely interest you, maybe give it a chance. It can be hard to condense a job into a 1-2 page position description (think about how hard it is to condense your resume while still showing your personality… institutions have to do the same thing!) However– if you are reading a job position and it just doesn’t excite you, skip it. If there is a position you really aren’t interested in or excited about, don’t waste your time applying or their time reviewing. Move on. There will be plenty of other jobs that DO excite you! There will be a lot of difficult decisions in this process, so at the end of the day you just have to trust you gut and be confident in your decisions.
Get your wardrobe done. Early.
I went shopping with my mother over holiday break because I knew that none of my dress clothes were going to work well for job interviews. And as luck would have it, I was able to get plenty of blazers, dress pants, and blouses to last me the entire job search. (All I’m missing is a better pair of black heels that I need to order from Kohls!). Why is it important to get your wardrobe done early? 1) Sometimes clothes are hard to come by. Shop early incase you can’t find what you need, that way you still have time to shop later. 2) When you’re caught up in school and work and last minute applications and prepping for interviews, the last thing you want to worry about is which pants fit you or which blazer matches. If the stores don’t have what you need, you don’t want to go into your interview not feeling prepared and confident because you’re worried about your pants that are too big. Shop early, get it out of the way, and break in those heels before your on-campus!
Remember when you were looking into potential schools for undergrad and it was so exciting to visit the campus and try to imagine your life there? Well it should be just as fun and exciting now! Maybe you’re not a student, but you are still a member of the school community. You are a member of their school spirit. You are not only representing your office, but the entire institution. Enjoy looking at schools, searching for organizational charts, and googling photos of campus. Look into what is around the campus in the community: find restaurants, activities, and what the city community culture is like. (Hint: I love googling “Top 10 things to do in _______.” You get some good results and it gives you an idea of what key attractions are in the area!)
This semester is going to play a much different role than the past, because of the emphasis on the job search. I’m not scared. I’m not worried. I am excited. I am anxious, but in a good way. My life is going to drastically change in 111 days, and I am so excited for what the next chapter brings. However, like anything in life, you have to work hard now to reap the benefits later! But I promise, if you put in the work, it will be worth it.
As I mentioned, I will try to be better at blogging through my job search process (keeping my content neutral of course, I won’t share the details of schools at all!). Until then, it’s back to applications I go….
quote of the day: “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Eliot