While the holidays are over, a new season is fast approaching for many entry and graduate candidates in Higher Education. As we get closer to the major job placement conferences , I want to share my top five strategies for job searching. As the recruiter for professional staff in my department, I have seen first-hand how these simple tactics consistently result in success.
1) Do your homework: Create a file folder for each school that interests you. Include their departmental website, mission and demographic statistics about the institution. Go on their admissions page and ask for more information to be sent to you as a “prospective student”. You can learn a lot about the culture of the university by seeing the message they send to the incoming freshman class.
2) Have 2-3 individually crafted questions prepared for each school: Subscribe to their daily/weekly student newspaper on-line to really get a feel for what is happening on their campus. Asking “I see that you are building a new Student Union next year, how do you think this will impact the campus community?” is an informed question. Asking “What do you like about working here?” is generic. Don’t underwhelm employers-“Wow” them!
3) Cover letters matter: Every year I get several cover letters addressed to “Mr. Klotz” or the candidate will express excitement to apply for the job at “Loyola University.” Well, I’m definitely not male and I work a few miles away from Loyola. The point is—take your time with this document because it reflects who you are as a professional.
Also, your resume is a list of what you are responsible for within your job but a cover letter shows me how you will take those experiences and add value to our department. Tailor each letter to fit the unique institution. Demonstrate that you did more than simply change the name of the job and the institution before sending it to ten different schools.
4) Have strong answers prepared for the “strengths and weaknesses” question: We don’t expect perfect candidates, we expect trainable ones who will improve over time and with experience. Do not tell us that your weaknesses are that you “delegate too much,” “take too much on at work,” or “have a hard time saying no.” Be honest. Share with us how your future supervisor can help you to make progress in your weaker areas. Each of us knows what we need to work on—say it and demonstrate your commitment to improving in this area.
5) Know your non-negotiables from the start of your search: What are those things you have to have in the next position? Know them from the start and do not pursue jobs that don’t fit into these guidelines. Be realistic and know that while there is typically no perfect job, what are the 2-3 things that are critical to your success in this position? Define them and use it as a measuring stick when deciding if you want to apply or not.
Finally, the most successful candidates are the most prepared ones. Make a plan now to ensure that you are showcasing the best professional version of you!
What are some of your tips for a successful job search? Share them here!
Follow me on Twitter at: @annmarieklotz