This semester, I’m helping my boss fire me.
That sentiment is a little less scary than it could be, considering I’m a second year graduate student approaching graduation! And now that I’m involved in the selection process for the next graduate assistant who will fill my role, it has been nice to see things from the other side of table. I have had the incredible experience of helping hire multiple professional staff members, and this will be my second time involved in finding my replacement for a cherished position. My supervisors have seen the value in allowing me to experience hiring processes and now I’m reminding myself of a few comforting reflections during my own #SASearch.
Hiring committees do not scrutinize your applications looking for mistakes.
For a single search, hiring committees may have to review materials for twenty, sixty, or even a hundred applications. The time that a committee member does get to spend with your materials likely won’t be spent picking apart your cover letter for hidden meanings. That sentence you agonized over in your cover letter to make sure you were communicating the right message? A committee or individual likely will not spend as much time as you fear searching for a negative interpretation. Most hiring committees are looking for candidates and materials that stand out as impressive, unique, and qualified. You should still take the appropriate time and care when preparing your materials. But, worrying over mistakes or inadequacies can be counterproductive during the #SASearch.
Fit is just as important as qualifications.
For all of the candidates that we brought to an on-campus interview, there was never a doubt in my mind that they would be able to fulfill the duties of an open position. Rather, our decision-making focused on how they would work with our students, what a candidate could bring to the current team dynamic, and why they were interested in the role. It’s reassuring to know that most people at the interview (hopefully) think that you’re able to do the job, and on-campus interviews are more about assessing fit. That said, we must be careful about using the intangible qualities of fit to discriminate against those with marginalized identities or individuals who may present themselves in a different manner that you might. Candidates should also keep this in mind to both protect and advocate themselves when choosing a position and environment that is right for you as well.
You are also interviewing institutions during your #SASearch.
We often forget that an interview is also the candidate’s opportunity to decide if the role and environment is the right move for them. The field of higher education is filled with highly educated, competent, and qualified individuals searching for their next career opportunity. #SAGrads in particular may feel somewhat panicked during the search, feel grateful to even be offered a position, and just accept the first offer of employment extended to us (75% of us, in fact). Sometimes that first offer is the best choice for a number of personal and professional reasons. But, keep in mind that you should be interviewing the office, institution, and colleagues along the way. This will help you decide within your unique job search parameters if accepting an offer is the right move.
Have you had the opportunity to serve on a hiring committee? What other words of advice would you give to those of us entering the #SASearch process? Comment below or connect with me on Twitter @notvery_meek!
This post of part of the Emerging SAPro series following three awesome people: Michelle, Sara, and Thalia. Join us as they blog about a year in the their journey as a new SAPro or SAgrad. We are proud to help them share their stories.