03/11/2014 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

The Job Search Mistake You Don’t Even Know You’re Making

large read arrow cursor points to reply button on email

If you’re going through the job-search process, you know that time is precious. Between writing your cover letter and revamping your resume, attending conferences and staying in touch with your Placement Team, you can feel completely pressed for time. You might find that it’s taking you days to sift through your inbox—email has taken a backseat to your other priorities.

A word on that: one of the most important parts of your job search is being attentive and responsive to emails from school contacts. This means you need to respond—in a timely and respectful way—to all communications from schools, whether via a phone call or personal email or through our online conference message center. You might not even realize that you’re being unresponsive or that not responding could be detrimental to your job search. If you’re thinking one of the following three excuses, think again—and start drafting responses to schools you might have left hanging.

Excuse #1: I’m swamped with work; I’ll respond in a few days.

We’ve said it before: when you work at an independent school, your days will be busy. Your responsibilities will extend past the classroom and onto the athletic field, stage, or dorm room. You will need to be available and responsive—yes, even when you’re totally swamped.

Don’t wait a few days to respond to a school contact. Take 10 minutes and reply right away—convey your ability to manage your time and your continued interest in the position.

Excuse #2: A Message received through the CS&A Conference Message Center doesn’t “count.”

False! Treat our online conference message center like your email inbox. Check it frequently, and respond to any and all outreach from hiring schools. Don’t narrow the scope of the conference module to interview scheduling: it can be a powerful tool for you to reach out to schools and for schools to screen candidates prior to scheduling interviews. Check it diligently prior to and during a conference—and respond to every message, however brief.

Excuse #3: I’m not interested in that school/position.

This mistake is easy to make, and it can be damaging to your job search. While you’re on the hunt for a new position, every interaction you have with a prospective employer is important—even if you’re not interested in the job. By not responding to a message from a school you’ve deemed undesirable, you’re hurting yourself in a few ways:

  1. You’re limiting yourself. If you broaden your scope just a bit, you might find that a school you had never previously considered is the perfect fit. 30-minute interviews at our hiring conferences are a great way to test the proverbial waters.
  2. Think of the future. You might not be interested in the current position at a particular school, but a job might open up at that same school in a few years that’s the perfect fit for you. Don’t bite the hand that (could one day) feed(s) you.
  3. Connections, connections. The independent school world is not that big. If you’ve attended one of our conferences, you’ve seen how school contacts are friendly with one another—they might even be former colleagues—and they talk. You don’t want the hiring contact you blew off to discuss what s/he perceives as rudeness to a school with your dream position.

In sum: if you’re not interested in the position or school at this point, it doesn’t matter—be polite and professional, and send the hiring contact a quick note thanking him for his time and indicating that you won’t be able to connect.

When it comes to communication, we know it can be difficult. But while you might have leeway with your colleagues, friends, or even, to a certain extent, with your CS&A Placement Team, you don’t have that same leeway with school contacts that reach out to you. Respond to each and every email and voicemail from a school—you won’t regret it!

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