Springtime…the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and at colleges across the country, a young person’s fancy turns to thoughts of…unemployment?
In Student Affairs, this can only signal one thing…placement season is here. It’s time to brush up the resume, line up the references, check job postings, write cover letters, practice interview, really interview, and hope for the best. One part of this cycle in higher education is the placement conference, where candidates by the hundreds can answer the cattle calls of multiple employers, line up several interviews, and kick their search into a higher gear.
The three-hundred pound gorilla of placement centers these days is the Placement Exchange. A joint venture of ACUHO-I, ASCA, NACA, NASPA, NODA, AFA and HigherEdJobs.Com, this year’s exchange is being held in Chicago from March 3-7, just prior to the NASPA Annual Conference. According to the Placement Exchange’s website, 5070 interviews for 359 positions were held at last year’s conference in Seattle.
Two other larger conferences also offer placement centers: ACPA and the OshKosh Placement Exchange. ACPA hosts Career Central at their annual convention, held this year at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston from March 19-23. The OshKosh Placement Exchange is hosted by the University of Wisconsin-OshKosh and is in its 31st year.
For candidates that have a more regional focus, several regional organizations also hold placement conferences, including MACUHO’s Mid-Atlantic Placement Conference in Lancaster, PA from February 26 to 26 and the Southern Placement Exchange from March 11 to 14 in Memphis, TN. There are more, but these are the ones I could find while preparing for this article. If you know of another, please send it along, and I will make note of it in a future post.
For candidates that have never taken part in a large placement conference, the prospect of competing with several hundred people for positions can be pretty daunting. ACPA offers a great Guide to Demystifying Career Central at the Convention as a downloadable .pdf.
This guide offers steps for success before, during and after the interview, sample questions to help candidates prepare, resources and tips on handling illegal questions, negotiating an offer, planning your relocation, and more. These practical resources should be an asset to anyone in the Higher Ed/Student Affairs job market. I recommend reading it through well in advance of participation in any placement conference. It will give you a great feel for the placement experience.
Best of luck to you if you are a candidate this hiring season! In my next post, I will share some tips of my own. Though I probably can’t be as comprehensive as the ACPA Guide, I have been on both sides of the interview table at placement conferences, and can offer you some perspectives that will hopefully set you at ease and be more confident, and more prepared.
I’d also like to try a Twitter experiment to help keep the conversation going this placement season. If you are a candidate with a question about placement or an experienced professional (or employer) who has advice and perspectives to offer, please hashtag your placement questions and comments with #saplacement. Users can then follow these comments using their Twitter client and those of us with employment-related blogs and websites can post links to the trending topic or incorporate a feed to help others follow the conversations and add in their questions and advice. Let’s see if we can create a huge collaborative conversation that will help our colleagues and students succeed this placement season!
(This post is a cross-posting from my blog at higheredcareercoach.com where you can find a Twitter feed tracking the #saplacement hashtag. Let’s get the conversations underway!)