Patrick Love - Spotlight

Patrick Love
New York Institute of Technology

Here it is early May and you are still without a job. Your peers are posting on Facebook, Twitter, and your grad program listserv the jobs they have been accepting. You are happy for them, but each announcement hurts you a little bit more.

Do not despair! We have merely reached the middle of the annual student affairs job search process, not the end. Yes, you are staring commencement in the face so it feels like the end, but it isn't. It is the middle!

Based my experience as a former grad program faculty member and the conversations I have had with my faculty colleagues, about half of the second-years have jobs before commencement and the other half get jobs after commencement. And actually, we have entered the "May lull" in the job search. With the year wrapping up, commencement activities occurring on campus, and the Memorial Day weekend coming later in the month, most searches slow to a crawl until the very end of May.

During May, there is also a distinct shift in the "attitude" of some employers. In February and March just as you were shooting for your top jobs, employers were shooting for the very cream of the crop--people with incredible resumes from highly-reputed programs. You are reading this post because you didn't get any of your top job choices and you are still looking; well, some of those employers didn't get their top candidates and they are still looking. Come June they start to feel the same pressure--they have jobs to fill and have a July 1 or August 1 start date in mind. The candidates they may have skipped over in March will now be on their radar. So, I recommend you do two things:

1.         Send a note with a fresh resume and letter to any institution you applied to earlier in the spring but have not heard from. They may or may not have filled the position. If they haven't, they often will assume that folks who applied in their first round are long gone. Let them know you are still available, interested, and excited about the possibility of joining them.

2.         Look for early June placement conferences. For example, the New England Student Affairs Placement Conference (NESAPC) takes places on May 28th and 29th. It is perfectly timed to take advantage of institutions looking for people and people looking for jobs. Having participated in this conference when I was a director of residence life it was incredible how open employers and applicants were to each other. I recall getting some great candidates from there.

May is also a time for you to take stock and plan for the next couple of months. Reflect on and consider these questions and actions:

  • If you have had interviews (either on campus or via phone or Skype) and didn't get the offer, did you ask for feedback? If not, try to get that now.
  • If you haven't done this already, consider having a mock interview recorded at your Career Center. People avoid this because it makes them so uncomfortable; however, you may learn something important to improve your interview performance.
  • Have you created a portfolio of your work? This is a great way to make you standout among candidates.
  • Have you restricted the type of job you are applying for? Consider a second option and while continuing to apply for your first choice job type, add at least a second type of job.
  • Have you restricted your geographic location? If yes then consider expanding beyond that. Sure you are from the Midwest and you want to work in Los Angeles, but finding a job anywhere in California gets you closer to your dream city.
  • Have you restricted the type of institution you would consider working at? If so, challenge yourself on that decision. Go beyond your comfort zone and be open to discovering that you can serve students no matter the type of institution you choose.

I encourage you to work hard to manage your stress. You WILL get a job!

Feel free to tweet your job search questions to me at @pglove33. Also, buy my book: Job Searching in Student Affairs: Strategies to Land the Position YOU Want.