05/12/2017 by Carney Sandoe Staff |

The Latest in Job Search Advice

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As we all know, the Internet is dripping with advice for just about every situation — especially for job seeking and career building. With our main hiring season starting to wrap up as we get closer to summer, we’ve had a chance to look around and see what folks are saying this year.

Much of the career advice feels like repackaged material and obvious advice (pay attention to your body language; write a winning résumé). Some of it, thankfully, contains both truth and humor (“How to Survive a Boss from Hell”). Some of it is clearly corporate-focused (“Bring a nice pen and a leather portfolio.”). What caught our eye, however, was advice that feels fresh, on point, and valuable for teachers early in their careers.

Here are a few worth sharing:

Think of the job interview as performance.

You are in the interview because the school likes what it sees in your résumé, letters of recommendation, and personal statement. But you have to audition for the part. That’s why schools do interviews and campus visits. You want to be genuine and honest, of course. But you should also present the best version of yourself.

Cathy Salit, author of “Performance Breakthrough: A Radical Approach to Success at Work,” argues that you should enter an interview thinking of it as a performance — and “get into character mode.”

In part, this means being a good conversationalist. Be curious and listen. Ask questions and probe responses. Share your knowledge. Let them know what drives you, what you are interested in, why you love your subject and education. The performance, in other words, is attentive engagement with the interviewer.

So that you don’t get overwhelmed, Salit suggests that you focus on one “special” trait: “Instead of performing as a person who is trying really hard to get the job, perform as someone who wants to have a great conversation with the human being across from you.”

Be enthusiastic, but choose wisely.

A young professional we know says he has approached every job he has applied for as if it were the best possible job in the world. This kind of enthusiasm is important. Interviewers can easily pick up on disinterest or hesitation or doubt.

Being enthusiastic, however, doesn’t mean you need to jump at a job offer — should it come. In fact, Rebecca Knight, in a Harvard Business Review article, says you should take time to consider the offer carefully. They want you, but will you thrive in this job, in this school? What do you feel about the culture of the school, the classes you’ll be teaching, the location? If you are bringing a family along, how does your spouse or partner and children feel about this move? Is there opportunity for you to grow in the position? Are the salary and benefits attractive? If you need to ask follow-up questions, don’t hesitate to contact the school and ask.

The point is simple: It’s great to be wanted, but you’ll be much happier if you weigh these central questions before saying yes (or no).

Network in your field.

Networking is not only about joining LinkedIn or Facebook communities or following professionals in your field on Twitter. It also includes attending conferences and workshops or taking part less formal events like EdCamps and other alternative networking opportunities. Schools are always glad to see that you are part of the larger community of educators. It not only means you are staying current in your field and have some sense of the national scene, but also that you have professional support — a world of colleagues to turn to when you need ideas and perspective.

A Fast Company article, by Emmanuel Nataf, encourages all of us to network regularly — even if we don’t have a particular outcome in mind. It’s all about building meaningful (and valuable) relationships. If you happen to be an introvert, there are plenty of ways to do this without feeling overwhelmed. And it helps to keep this thought in mind: if you get in the habit of networking, focusing on getting to know and understand the other person — rather than thinking you need to ask a favor — you’ll both enjoy the networking experience and be happier in your professional life. Warning: it can get habit forming.

Be careful about setting goals.

We like this one because it’s counterintuitive. What could possibly be wrong with goal setting? According to another Fast Company article, quite a bit. “Goal-setting research has shown that goals are great and horrible at the same time,” says Columbia University Business School professor Adam Galinsky.

The “great” part of this double-edged sword is that goals can push us to stretch ourselves professionally and achieve at increasingly higher levels. The “horrible” part is that they can force us into a kind of tunnel vision and even promote unethical behavior (think of the Tour de France riders in the Armstrong era).

It’s better to work hard but be open to possibilities — to opportunities. However, even to think of oneself as hard-working has its pitfalls. Creative solutions and breakthrough often come from engaging in new thinking, from play, from seeing problems and challenges from new perspectives. Keeping your nose to the proverbial grindstone is just going to result in exhaustion and burn-out (and perhaps a damaged nose).

Philosopher Alex Soojung Kim Pang, in his new book, “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less,” makes it clear that we don’t need to accept the notion that burnout is the price we pay for success. He encourages us to resist the “lure of busyness” — and has the research to back it up. Pang also makes it clear that work and rest aren’t opposites, but “more like different points on life’s waves.” Both need our attention. Both work in unison. When we embrace this symbiosis, not only are we more productive and creative, we are also happier.

Get a job referral (from CS&A!).

This is one of our favorites, of course. A Business News Daily report makes it clear that it’s better to have one than not. It turns out that applicants who are referred to a position are almost 10 times more likely to be hired than candidates who are not referred. This is why we love our work. Because we’re working directly with the hiring contacts at schools and advocating on your behalf, your chances of getting hired are significantly higher than if you were applying blindly.

Want that referral? Apply today to become one of our candidates. Our job placement services are free to our active candidates.

Oh, and about that body-language advice. It all boils down to maintaining good posture (but not crazy stiff), making eye contact (but not in a creepy way), and remembering to smile once in a while (but not the whole time; that’s creepy, too).

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