Beginning the Job Search Process

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    Candidate Development Team
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Beginning your job search can be a daunting and overwhelming task. FORTUNATELY, you have several people on your side here to support and guide you as you embark on this transition in your life. Before creating your timeline, to-do lists, and folders to help keep you organized during your job search, there is some self-reflection in which you should partake.


Before getting ready to officially submit your first job application, it’s very important to take some time to reflect and think about what it is that you’re wanting to gain, experience, and learn while in your next position. Make sure you ask yourself the following questions: What type of institution do I see myself at? Where in the country do I want to live/work? Do I want to work with a specific student population? What are deal-breakers for me?


Even though the job search process can seem to engulf your life at times, we recognize that many times you’re not searching for jobs with just yourself in mind. Your job is just one part of your life and, as you look for your next position, there are external factors that you need to keep in mind. As you read through countless job descriptions, make sure you know your answers to the following questions: What outside responsibilities do I need to keep in mind? What do I want my work/life balance to look like? What essential things do I need my future hometown to have?


You may be searching for a job for yourself, but you’re not alone in your job search process. Make sure to let your support network know where you are in the search process. Applying for jobs can be very stressful and—having a group of people to help you talk through issues you may encounter, prep for interviews, and make final decisions—will make things a little easier. Also, remember that you have 12 student affairs professionals in the TPE Committee at all stages of their career cheering you on and available to help in whatever way they can to ensure you end up in your dream position.


  • Résumé – If you haven’t already, start working on editing your résumé and have several people look at it to give you feedback. If you’re looking to apply to jobs in different functional areas, make sure to tailor your résumé to highlight the transferable skills that will be most helpful for that specific functional area. Look out for emails regarding the TPE RÉSUMÉ REVIEW service that will open on December 5, 2016.
  • Job Postings – New job openings are constantly being posted, and will continue to be posted 365 days a year. With all of the modes of communication we engage with on a daily basis—emails, websites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, InsideHigherEd, etc.—keeping track of them all can be a job in and of itself. Make sure you figure out a method to keep track of the jobs you may be interested in applying.
  • Researching the Institution – When researching institutions, think back to the self-reflections and situation reflections you did at the beginning of your job search. Also, look at the mission/values—not just of the university as a whole—but, also, of the department and/or unit of the position. You want to gather as much information as you can about the institution at all levels.
  • Cover Letters –The cover letter is your opportunity to speak about anything that’s not apparent in your résumé. This is the space where you can give the hiring committee a sense of your personality and show them why you’re the perfect fit, not just for their position, but for their department/unit and institution. Tailoring your letter to that specific position, in that department/unit, at that institution, is key!
  • Phone/Skype Interviews – Figure out where you’ll be for your phone/skype interviews. Make sure it is a location with good reception, low noise levels, and no distracting backgrounds. Have a back-up plan (i.e. access to a landline phone, Ethernet cable, or other computer).
  • On-campus Interviews – You’ve made it to the final stage of interviews, which means the search committee feels you can be successful in doing the job. While you’re on campus, take time to get a feel for the lay of the land, the people you’d be working with, and the general community. This space can potentially be your home in a few short months, so make sure you can see yourself there.

Let it all sink in. I know this was a lot of information, BUT keep calm! All of this does not need to be done in one day. Take your time in digesting the information and beginning to chip away at each piece. Your job search timeline is yours alone and does not need to look like anyone else’s. If you’re ever in doubt of anything, feel free to reach out to the Candidate Development Committee for help, advice, or resources.

Happy Searching!!


TPE Onsite 2017 San Antonio | March 8-12, 2017


Whether you're looking for a new position for yourself, or are looking to add staff to your department, don't miss the opportunity to join us for this annual placement event.

Each year, The Placement Exchange brings the top candidates and employers in Student Affairs together under one roof for the top job placement event in the profession. In 2017, help us celebrate TPE's 10th anniversary by making this event our biggest and best yet.

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