A Whole New World–Tips for Navigating the Next Level Search.

In my current role as the primary recruiter for our department I feel very comfortable in assisting undergraduate, graduate and entry-level staff members navigate their future job search.  The parameters that guide these type of processes all have some similar components, timelines and steps with the only variation being slight institutional differences.

Over the past six months I have been immersed in my own search for a senior-level position and as that process has recently come to a close I realize how different this type of search process differs from graduate, entry and mid-level. While it is fresh in my mind I want to share a few of my take-always from my own experience. 

What a difference one professional level makes, my friends! 

Be prepared for a very public search: At this level your candidacy is made very public when you become a finalist. My name, biography and on-campus presentation information was listed on university websites and school newspapers at these institutions. Take-away: Make sure that everyone who needs to know that you are searching is informed and be prepared for other folks to ask you about your candidacy in this process since the information is readily available on-line.

Everyone is a reference: While it is an industry standard to list 3-5 references on your employment application, as many as 20 people may be contacted for informal or character reference checks–with or without your knowledge.  Take-away: Do your best work in every situation and be kind to everyone you come in contact with–you never know who will be speaking about you, your work ethic and your reputation.

Checks, checks and more checks: Academic credentials, financial background, criminal record, driving history, a writing sample and fingerprinting have all been a part of my process.  Take-away: Especially when a position requires large supervisory or budgetary oversight, the institution has a responsibility to protect themselves. Know that these kinds of checks are part of the process and be prepared to discuss any of these areas with your potential future employer.

Heightened expectations for the on-campus presentation: As a finalist for this type of position a presentation is standard, however I was surprised at the length–up to an hour in some cases (plus Q & A), as well as how many people attended these presentations–anywhere from 30-60, in my experience.  Take-away: Prepare for this session in the same way that you would for a conference presentation. Know your stuff and be prepared for high-level questions from people with different perspectives. I received questions from people who worked in Procurement, Library Services as well as faculty members who all represent different constituencies and have different priorities than the practitioners work in Residence Life. 

Departmental vs. Divisional needs: One of the biggest lessons I learned in this process is that institutions were looking for not only someone to run a particular unit, but also for someone who could equally represent, support and be a part of a leadership team within Student Affairs. Take-away: Know what you can contribute at a divisional level and be prepared to demonstrate how your leadership abilities can help the division to meet its goals. 


This search process was a good reminder of the power of preparation, relationships, reputation, and the importance of having a strong network around you to advise you through the process.  


What other tips would you recommend to practitioners seeking employment at the next level? Share them here!


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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22 Responses to A Whole New World–Tips for Navigating the Next Level Search.

  1. Lindsey M. says:

    Fabulous post! Congrats again on the new adventure awaiting you at Oregon State!

  2. My random tips….We work in a small, small field, where the degree of separation is small. Make sure your supervisor is in the loop every step of the way. Make sure you continue to do your best work in your current job. Don’t become a lame duck employee when you receive and accept your new position. Ask for help when you need it, from whomeever you need to. Laugh alot, reflect more and enjoy every step of the process.

  3. Tim Lade says:

    I can’t imagine being fingerprinted. But great read! Awesome as always. Can’t wait to have you in our region.

  4. douglasleemiller says:

    Nice post! Make sure to touch base before you head West. I’m sure you’ll shine!

  5. Robyn Kaplan says:

    Great post and wonderful insight into so many of our unchartered futures. Congratulations on what I’m sure will be an incredible journey and one that you will surely set on fire. Looking forward to learning from your blazes. Thanks!

  6. staci d. gunner says:

    This has provided me w/more perspective than you know! The final piece on departmental v divisional is particularly important and insightful. B/C of this I will make some shifts in my attitude and approaches 🙂

    • Thanks Staci! Yes, it becomes more and more obvious that the role you can play as a leader within Student Affairs is equally as important as leading a particular unit. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  7. Thank you Ann Marie for blazing the trail for so many to follow. I appreciate your insight on this — and so many things and look forward to continue learning from you in your new role. Congratulations!

  8. teribump says:

    Great post filled with important insights Ann Marie. Thanks for always being so generous with your experieces and knowledge. T

  9. Thanks Teri! I think it’s really important to share what we learn in these processes and to help folks understand the different steps at each level. Thanks for all that you do for so many!

  10. Ann Marie, I always love your wisdom and insight! Though I’m far from a senior-level position (!), it’s always great knowing the differences other folks see in even moving to a mid-level. I’m excited to keep learning from you and what you gain in your new role at OSU. Congrats!

  11. Anne Marie, thank you so much for always sharing such wisdom and insight! Though I’m far from a senior-level role, it’s always great hearing of the differences people see even in mid-level searches. I’m looking forward to continuing learning from you in your new role at OSU – congratulations!

  12. Spencer Giese says:

    Great post AMK! Many great tips I will keep in mind far into the future:) Oregon State is so lucky to have you!

  13. Pingback: What Does Being “Ready” Mean To You? | annmarieklotz

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