Growing Pains of Job Hunting

The job hunt has officially begun for this Student Affairs grad student. For the month of January, I focused on the prep work. I started researching schools, “finalized” my resume and wrote on my cover letter. At the beginning of January, I found this great position and besides the regular application materials, they were asking for a philosophy of career counseling. This was my mind: “What!? Okay, I can do this. I wrote my theory of counseling at the beginning of grad school. How tough can this be?” Writing a “philosophy” for any function area of higher education was not part of my grad program, so the idea was slightly new to me. I turned to Twitter and the awesome #sachat and #sagrad communities for some inspiration. There were some great individuals who sent ideas of how to start (just start writing my thoughts, think of a great interaction with a student & why was it special) and I even received a couple links to samples. All of these were helpful. I’ve worked from the same core ideas of career counseling for the past few years and sometimes it’s hard to put that all down on paper, worded coherently and beautifully. After brainstorming, I went back to that theory of counseling paper I wrote during my first semester (I really didn’t think it would be helpful…because what did I really know about counseling during my FIRST semester of grad school?!!)…and it was actually helpful. It turns out that I did know what I was talking about at the beginning of my program. At this moment in time, my philosophy still needs some final adjustments.

Writing the cover letter has been interesting. Cover letters can be hard to write. Plain and simple. I work with students every day helping them with their cover letters, so you’d think I’d have a handle on the darn document. I completely understand the purpose, and it can be hard to just totally lay your skills and experiences out there for other people to critique. They are hard because you want to talk about yourself without having the focus totally on you – you want the focus on what the job is requiring and how you meet those requirements. The cover letter did get written (it does need some final editing though). I started by ripping apart the job description to make sure that I was addressing everything in the required and preferred qualifications.

The actual “growing pains” of this whole process was my resume. I thought I was pretty solid on that because I’ve been updating it and seeking feedback on it throughout grad school. Last week, I sat down with my internship supervisor to get her take on everything. She ripped apart my resume…in a good way. She said I was underselling myself, my experiences, and my abilities, and by doing that, I wasn’t completely fulfilling the requirements of the job description. My resume is my baby. I’ve been working on it since the beginning on undergrad, so this was a bit tough to swallow at first. It’s not that my resume was bad. It just needed to be amped up to really stand out against the rest of the competition. Here’s an example of the transformation that has happened:

  • Original descriptive line: Coordinate Resume Dr. event where office staff members conduct brief resume review sessions with students in various locations on campus (3-4 times a semester)
  • Revised descriptive line: Revamped and coordinate Resume Dr. event consisting of collaboration with entities across campus (i.e. Library & Residence Life) and career staff working together to outreach to students, staff, and faculty

How did I do with the revision?

So now begins the real fun of job hunting: applying for jobs! I’m honestly excited about finding positions to apply for…and actually applying for them. The first official application will be sent out this weekend. Wish me luck!

On a slightly different note: yesterday my boss said that he wished he could hire me (post-grad school). I responded, I wish he could too, mostly because he’s been an amazing supervisor for the past 2.5 years. I hope that whoever my next supervisor is, that they will be just as awesome. 🙂 Alas, things don’t happen that nicely (getting hired in your GA department as a professional staff member) in higher education…especially when facing budget cuts and a potential hiring freeze.

Do you have any job hunting stories or good tips? I would love to hear them!

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4 thoughts on “Growing Pains of Job Hunting

  1. Nathaniel says:

    Great post! I find cover letters extremely difficult to write. Keeping them short and to the point while trying to explain how you meet all the requirements, is pretty tough. Any tips?

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