Job searching is an exciting and stressful experience. Here are some tips to consider on your journey.
The goal is not to get hired but find a “work home.”
Approach your job search not with the attitude of getting hired but choosing your next “work home.” We spend at least 40 hours (usually more) of our week in the workplace. It needs to be a good fit for not only our career goals but our personal well-being. I challenge you to place the burden of responsibility for choosing a “work home” on yourself not the employer. Are you really listening (not hearing) what the interviewer shared with you? Did you trust your instincts on how you felt while sitting across the table at a recruitment conference or while touring campus? Will you like the office, building, campus that will be involved? (example: I know I wouldn’t thrive if I shared an office.)
Review not only the job description but the institution and department website. Learn something about the institution/department other than the job description. If you notice something that resonates with you personally or you can personalize a question, this not only provides a memorable moment to a potential employer but also gives insight into whether or not you have found a “work home” fit.
Practice – get dressed, sit in front of a mirror and practice your responses. This will give you an opportunity to hear your tone, see your facial expressions, assess your posture and be comfortable with your answers. If sitting in front of a mirror makes you feel awkward, ask a friend to interview you.
Interview the Interviewer
You have been challenged to take responsibility for choosing your “work home.” You can accomplish this by having good questions prepared about the things that matter to you. What is quality of life like in the area? Do staff members socialize together? If you have a hobby, can you partake in it where the school is located? Will you be OK with the commute? Do you see yourself living / playing in the local community? I always look for a Dunkin Donuts (smile)! After the interview, write down your immediate reaction to the experience because those thoughts will be the most genuine and need to be reflected upon as the process moves forward.
Anyone can present themselves professionally on paper (believe me, I work on a lot of resumes and make people sound outstanding). Are you dressing professionally but showing a bit of your own style? Are you using “buzz words” because you believe in them or think they are necessary? Are you giving standard answers about your areas of growth / strengths or hobbies? When you are your authentic self, you shine. Period!
Thriving not Surviving at a Recruitment Conference
Candidates often think – “the more I interview the more opportunities I will be given.” This isn’t necessarily the best strategy. Remember, you want to be authentic and most effectively represent yourself. You can only do that when you are rested, refreshed and focused on the task at hand. Be intentional on scheduling breaks between interviews. This will enable you to focus on the present interview and not be thinking ahead (employers know when the candidate is trying to wrap up). Go outside or walk around the conference center between interviews. While sightseeing and visiting with colleagues is important, be sure to get enough sleep to tackle the next day!
Toe the Line
Despite how connected you feel to an interviewer, you are always being assessed. It’s easy to get wrapped up in casual language, jokes, etc. when your interview team is acting that way. However, you need to be genuine but toe the line of professionalism. Remember that whether being picked up at the airport, touring campus, eating lunch, etc. it is all part of the interview. This includes your written communication via text and email with the interview team.
Thank You Sincerity
It is common place at recruitment conferences to send a thank you note shortly after an interview. I challenge you to wait and send a note after the conference. What?! Go against the standard? Let’s be real, how sincere are you if you are writing the note merely hours after the interview and are writing 2-4 of them at a time. You will have more clarity and sincerity if you wait and show your appreciation after the conference. It’s also another opportunity to connect with the interview team post-conference without “following up” on your candidate status.
(Thank you to Jennifer Oliver, Debbie Daniels and Seth Grossman for their ideas)
What strategies do you employ during recruitment either as a candidate or employer?