Any job search can be taxing, but looking to transition to another functional area within student affairs can seem particularly daunting. Just like these fine infomercial acting moments, hiring committees can make you feel as though this process is nearly impossible. While any job search takes preparation and intentionality, following are a few ways to plan for a transition while in your current position.
Are you three months into a new job? High fives. Now what’s next?
It is never too early to look to the future and begin to plan for your next transition. Spend some time thinking through where you want your current position to take you: what does the next step look like and what skills do you need to perfect in order to be successful? Consider what you love about your current position, institution, and office environment. Conversely, think through what you might want to actively avoid when searching for that next position. From there, you can:
Consult your personal Board of Directors
A personal Board of Directors is made up of supportive individuals who lend counsel in life and career transitions and advise you through better understanding yourself. Just like a real board, each individual should bring unique qualities, strengths, and areas of expertise that aid you in making informed life decisions. Some ideas for members include someone who: has your dream job; is in your career field; can give you encouragement in tough times; can talk to you straight about your weaknesses; is entrepreneurial; has known you since childhood; is an expert on relationships, money, work/life balance.
Look to these individuals to help you better understand yourself, your future ambitions, and your strengths and areas for improvement. With your future position in mind, have conversations with those on your board who can help you to give forethought into what skills and competencies you would like to perfect to better prepare you for the future. Then, look to:
Capitalize on opportunities
You’ve audited your future interests, understand your strengths, and are ready to tackle some new skills. For those areas of growth not met within your current position description, survey the current campus landscape so as to understand how you might leverage other departments and capitalize on available opportunities that may help you to hone these skills. What offices might you be able to volunteer with? What committees are looking for new members? What tasks might you take over in your current office so as to gain the skills needed for your ideal next step?
Then, make these interests known to others. With your supervisor or other members of the campus community, address those competencies you’re looking to strengthen. Ask them to be your eyes and ears so they can nominate you for leadership positions, alert you to opportunities, or help you to spread your interest around campus.
But wait! There’s more!
Don’t let the hard work of skill development get lost in translation. When applying for positions in a new functional area, be sure you understand exactly what the office and college are looking for and spend time personally crafting a resume and cover letter that focuses on the transferable skills you’ve attained. Practice addressing these in an interview so they are presented as opportunities, not shortcomings, so you can prove how seamless this transition can be.
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 Jake Nelko at firstname.lastname@example.org.