There was no magic time when I suddenly realized I should start applying for jobs. During Fall 2010 I had found a few jobs that had seemed interesting but I always had a reason to not apply. “I could do this, but it isn’t exactly what I want,” or “It is really too early, they would probably want someone to start before I’m done with school.” One way or another, I talked myself out of submitting an application. That was until one Monday in January, when one of my good friends announced that not only had he applied for a position but he had a job offer. Uh-oh, I thought, I should probably get a little more serious about this.
About a week later I applied for my first job. I was on the fence about applying because it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I had sought my mentor’s advice and she wisely reminded me that there was no harm in applying and that job searches were kind of like dating: both the interviewee and the interviewer were simply trying to figure out if they were a good fit. So the first job I applied for was an “I don’t really know if this is right for me at this point in my life” which was fine because I didn’t get invited for interview. This was not surprising in hindsight. As I explained before, this was apparently just my chance to practice writing an atrocious cover letter and to turn in a resume with the word “education” misspelled. Irony at its finest. Did I mention have your resume reviewed 8 million times by 8 million people? Also, just a tip, if you spell out your headings in all capital letters, Microsoft Word doesn’t spell check those words so you might double check all of those.
Once I got my resume all fixed up, I also started to work my connections. A close high school friend offered to pass my resume along to an administrator at one of the colleges I was interested in. My mentors contacted old colleagues to inquire about jobs. In the oddest turn of events, my mother started up a conversation with a stranger on a plane that somehow ended up being a potential job lead. For me, none of these actually panned out in my search process out. Although, oddly enough, once I started working at WSU, some of these connections showed back up and have led to opportunities after being hired. This was a great reminder for me that my field, like most others, is very interconnected and every contact could be somebody who knows somebody.
Once I got past the hurdle of applying for that first job, the rest came much easier. Through the roughly three months (January, February, and March of 2011) of this phase, I applied for six jobs, all the while keeping the following advice in mind:
· Apply for anything you think you might be happy with and are qualified for. Let the employer decide if you aren’t qualified enough and use the interview to determine if you are a good fit for each other.
· Get good at seeing your transferable skills and how they relate to different positions.
· Write a separate cover letter for each position. You might even reorganize or tweak your resume for each job depending on what you want to highlight.
· Create a “Job Search” folder on your computer and in your email. I created a subfolder for each job and saved the job description, confirmation emails, and all of the documents (resume, cover letter) I submitted to help keep things straight.