Trust the Job Search Process!

It has been wonderful to read about people navigating the Student Affairs job search process on Twitter. As usual, the #sachat community serves as a great mentor for those who ask for help—by reviewing resumes, practicing mock interviews or simply serving as a sounding board for people when they have questions.

As we move into spring I have enjoyed reading the tweets from people about the final steps of the process–“I rocked the on-campus interview” or “The offer came and I said yes!”—are among my favorites that I have seen so far.

But this time of year can be tough if folks around you seem to be moving on a different timeframe (i.e., faster) or if you get the “thanks, but no thanks” email. It can be especially difficult if your dream school doesn’t offer you the job. Sometimes more than one school offers you and tough decisions have to be made.

A couple of things to consider:

1) If a school offers you a position and you turn it down, it does not necessarily close the door to working there in the future: I was offered a fantastic graduate assistantship at a school I admired and I turned it down because I had decided that I wanted to work full-time while getting my Masters degree at an institution closer to home.

I respectfully declined the offer and stayed in contact with the leadership of that department. Two years later, I had a Masters degree and felt ready to move on from my current position. This institution contacted me and said “let’s try this again!” and asked me to interview with them. Sometimes timing can be everything. I went on to take the job and was a Residence Hall Director for that institution for three years.

2) Getting a “no thanks” letter does not mean “no way,” it can mean “not now:” At my very first Oshkosh Placement Exchange (OPE) I applied for a graduate assistantship with a private school in a large urban area. I felt confident going into the interview. I did my homework on the school and had carefully prepared questions to ask the interview team. I left the interview smiling and rushed off to write the thank you note. I checked my mailbox about ten minutes after interviewing with this school and there was a letter in my mailbox saying “thank but no thanks” and that they were not going to pursue my candidacy at this time.

I slumped away, a little disappointed. What did this mean about me as a candidate? What I didn’t know then (and what I fully understand now) is that at 22 I wasn’t ready for this type of institution. The interview team (correctly) suspected that I would not fit with their department.

Did I ever cross paths with that institution again? You bet. I have been an Assistant Director for Residential Education at DePaul University for nearly five years now. The “no thanks” letter was a blessing in disguise. I went on to work at other schools and when the chance came around again I felt ready to pursue that opportunity. If you really like a school but it doesn’t work out right now don’t lose hope! It just might not be your time to be there…yet!

The bottom line is that you should have trust in the process! Do your best work, follow-up in a timely fashion with each school and have patience (easier said than done, I know!)

What have you learned from your job search process?

Follow me on Twitter @annmarieklotz

About annmarieklotz

I write about all things education, personal & professional development and growth. Once is a question, twice is a discussion and three times is a blog post! Born and raised in Detroit Michigan but currently calling the Pacific Northwest home. I work at Oregon State University and belong to a fantastic community of higher ed professionals around the globe! Lover of theater and the arts. Live your best life!
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4 Responses to Trust the Job Search Process!

  1. Lynn Ellison says:

    Absolutely agree. When I searched for my second job out of grad school, I submitted an application for a school in hopes of getting an interview at ACPA. ACPA came and went and no interview. Clearly, I wasn’t in serious consideration. Fast forward to June and I get a call from that school – they were interested in a phone interview. After the phone interview, I was immediately offered an on-campus interview and offered a job within a week of that initial phone call. I had a wonderful 3 years at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and took great pleasure in teasing them about the fact that I was a “third tier candidate.”

    Moral of my story: don’t let pride get in the way of a potentially great opportunity.

  2. Julia Roberts says:

    “Trust the Process” one of my many mantras…

    My best advice/perspective…. I know that it can be nerve racking (esp in this economy), but the job search is really a mutual selection process– I feel like my last search I got overly worried about what institutions thought of me that I forgot to ask myself if I felt at home at an institution until I was already home from the on-campus interview (or at a hotel that night). Luckily, I took a deep breath at some point and reminded myself that I was picking my next “home.” Then I was able to better focus on my part of selecting the right fit.

    I’m even luckier because I did find the right place- but like many processes- it wasn’t until I visited where I am now, that I realized that other places I had been (while wonderful!) were not where I needed to be then (and now).

    I “just knew” and I’m so glad that I trusted the process!!

  3. Thanks Lynn and Julia! These are great examples of your own professional stories. Sometimes I think we don’t share these anecdotes enough and then new professionals feel like they are the “only one” who is experiencing this.

  4. Jake Nelko says:

    Thanks for this post! It’s definitely tough to go through the process, especially when it’s your first job. I’m in the apply-and-wait stage and it’s painful!

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