The job search can be stressful! During your time within education, you may participate in many job searches. My hardest job search was my first. I applied to 150 positions and felt an immense amount of internal and external stress. However, with the opinions of mentors, friends, and family, it is important to have a clear understanding of your own needs (Magolda & Carnaghi, 2014). In this post, I will focus on your first job search, but some of these tips may also be applied to all job searches.
Although it is perfectly normal to feel stressed about the job search, it is important to be realistic about the job market. In a study of alumni (n=79), 81.5% of graduate students who held a graduate assistantship and 100% of students who held an assistantship and did an additional internship were placed within 1-6 months of graduation (Wilson, Hall, & Alba, 2016). So, while searching for a job should be a priority, the numbers are in your favor, so your wellness should also be a priority.
During the job search, you should be considering your long-term wellness and your short-term wellness. Let’s start with long-term wellness. In a qualitative study of ten student affairs professionals, three important themes emerged: importance of relationships, institutional and professional fit, and issues of competence and confidence (Renn & Hodges, 2007). Researchers suggested that professionals should keep these themes in mind throughout the job search. Additionally, here are a few questions you should consider:
- What are your needs, obligations, or preferences that might influence your decision making? (Magolda & Carnaghi, 2014)
- What are the opinions of those close to you? How can you consider those opinions while focusing on your personal wellness?
- What are your deal breakers? (Magolda & Carnaghi, 2014)
During the job search process, it is important to realize that your short-term wellness is also important. You cannot function well in your additional roles if you are not taking care of yourself. This starts with your day-to- day habits (Rubin, 2015). Anytime you are adding a stressor to your life, such as the job search, you should also add a coping mechanism. Find out what makes you feel your best and try to do one of those things every day.
In addition, you need to take care of yourself while you are on an interview. You can request some things from the interviewer, and you should also be prepared to take care of yourself during on-campus interviews:
- Do you have special dietary concerns? (Magolda & Carnaghi, 2014)
- Do you have special transportation needs?
- Pack a snack. (Magolda & Carnaghi, 2014)
- Bring water. (Magolda & Carnaghi, 2014)
There are many different things you need to balance during you first job search. But the important thing to keep in mind is you should always come first. So take some time today to think about what is important for your wellness in the long-term and the short-term.
Magolda, P. M., & Carnaghi, J. E. (Eds.). (2014). Job One 2.0: Understanding the Next Generation of Student Affairs Professionals. University Press of America.
Renn, K. A., & Hodges, J. (2007). The first year on the job: Experiences of new professionals in student affairs. NASPA journal, 44(2), 367-391.
Rubin, Gretchen. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. Hachette UK, 2015.
Wilson, A. B., Hall, J. B., & Alba, A. Graduate Student Placement: An Examination of Experience and Career Barriers in a Student Affairs Professional Preparation Program.
This month is dedicated to the new crop of new professionals beginning their careers in higher education. Stay tuned for advice on job searching, transitioning into the field, and translating all of that new knowledge to the field.
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Cristina Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org.