In our field, a lot of time and attention is put into prepping for interviews, writing cover letters and resumes, and getting ready for the big on campus interview day. Less attention is given to teaching what type of follow up you should do after an interview to stay at the top of the hiring committee’s list of top candidates. Even worse, we rarely talk about how to “seal the deal,” by asking questions, airing concerns, and negotiating before we accept (or deny) a final job offer.
Student Affairs is admittedly a sometimes overly “touchy-feely” field. We fear asking probing questions, or acquiesce to certain professional situations, because we don’t feel like we have any other choice, or that we are “just” a new professional and have to “deal” with what is given to us. However, in the same breath, we tout how great we are, at motivating our students to reach for the highest goals and achievements they can. Does anyone else see the disparity there?
Recently, I underwent my own mid-level job search. With the help of professional peers, my best friend, my partner (both of whom are in higher education), and family, I was able to be very intentional, thoughtful, and mindful of my situation when “the phone call” came from my new supervisor. Through this process, I’ve gathered a few helpful hints and questions to ask yourself when “sealing the deal”.
Some things that are important within your professional role and critical to consider when faced with a job offer, include:
- Availability of peers/network/team
- Peer professional context (where were they before there? Homegrown? Across country?)
- Availability of professional development funding and/or commitment to tangible professional development
- Technological resources within department/division/university
- Tangibility of higher leadership to you (dean of students, vice chancellor for student affairs, chancellor/president, etc)
- Mission/vision and goals (are they active? Is there a five year plan? Do they know where they are going?)
- What is the general “vibe” of the team? (Are they easy going? Joke a lot? Work late at night? Always late?)
Beyond the professional concerns, you should also be aware of your personal needs (and hot buttons!) that need to be met when facing a job offer, including:
- Cost of university services (parking, health/wellness center membership, meal availability, athletics tickets, theater tickets)
- Benefit packages (what is the retirement contribution/match percentage, availability of local doctors and specialists, vision/dental care, flex health benefits, vacation/sick leave)
- Where is your university/system “at” in terms of furlough, layoffs, hiring freezes, travel freezes, etc
- Proximity of university to retail shopping, groceries, and social/hobby needs
- Ability to find suitable housing for self/family/petsProximity to airport/mass transit
- What salary do you need vs. want (don’t be afraid of negotiating for a higher salary or soft recurring benefits! These extras can lead to higher employee satisfaction and productivity!)
I mentioned before about asking these questions of yourself/your institution. However, I would also encourage you to air these out with peers, partner/family, and friends. They have an objective viewpoint that you may not be able to see because of the “job offer glow”. After searching out answers to these questions, you can feel confident in the fact that you’ve done a thorough job “sealing the deal”.
What kinds of questions do you ask? Share with me via Twitter or comments below! Best of luck to all of you getting “the phone call” soon!
Starting in mid-June, Mickey Fitch is the new Assistant Director of University Housing at University of Wisconsin-Superior. Mickey’s crafted her career around the residence life experience on the college campus. Mickey loves to tell stories and help students make the most of their residential experience on campus. On the personal side, Mickey is an avid fisherman and outdoorswoman and is currently engaged in a life-changing health and fitness journey! You can learn more about her at mickeyfitch.weebly.com or follow her on Twitter @mickeyfitch.