A couple of weeks ago I participated in the #sachat February 25th topic of “Politics of a Job Search”. This topic was a tough one for me, as I felt that a lot of the conversation was centered on the ideal conditions of a job search and not what the current conditions actually are.
I am wholeheartedly all about change, improvement, and progress. However, the politics behind a job search are something that individual employers and job searchers are going to have to challenge themselves to improve on; this is not going to be a systematic change overnight. If you are someone who is in a position to hire, it is up to you to run a neutral process. A neutral job search process means that you are not bringing in outside influences, external knowledge, or preference to internal candidates. The struggle of neutrality is one that has been debated for ages back to Plato’s Cave and Rousseau’s Guardians ( I am a political philosophy nerd). Both philosophies tackle the idea of knowledge versus nature. In Higher Education, we usually try to gain as much knowledge as possible in order to make informed decisions. However when you bring in pre-judged information about a candidate, are you truly giving them a fair shot?
For the candidates, I believe it is a benefit for them to know and be aware of what current job search processes are like. They need to know that sometimes other candidates will be chosen. Sometimes the past grad assistant or summer intern is going to be the one chosen for the job. The job searchers out there need to know how to move onto the next job, the next opportunity, and be prepared to show how well they can perform as a candidate.
The generalization that Higher Education is a small field is a very true one, and it is smaller if you are in an area with more colleges. Professionals work together, attend conferences, take jobs at nearby universities, and they talk to each other. That talk can influence the perception of you down the line, so it is important to put forward the best representations of yourself. Here are a few keys to success to think about in terms of how you represent yourself:
- Google yourself, see what has been public about you and make sure that it is representing who you want to be.
- Check your social media profiles and set your privacy to a level that you feel comfortable with potential employers seeing. Remember that you may be friends or following someone that may be a potential employer down the road.
- Be mindful of how you conduct yourself at conferences and events.
- Remember that anything you say about your current employer in a public setting may be overheard by someone that knows them.
- Remain positive and keep an open mind about opportunities that may be available to you.
- If you are not interested in a job or position, let the hiring manager know so that they may move on. Not returning emails or avoiding phone calls should never happen.
Job searching is an exciting and stressful time for both candidates and institutions. Remember that there are many jobs available and also many qualified candidates. You may not get your dream job, but down the line you may be thankful that you ended up with the job you earned.
Hiring managers, I urge you to challenge yourself to remove the influencers in your search. Be objective and try to find the best candidate with the best fit for your position.
What are some tips you would give to grads and job seekers applying to jobs right now?
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Podcast With Brian Proffer on His Story & Thoughts on Current Events