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Landing a Job You Love – It’s Not Impossible

Job searching in today’s climate is hard. If you are geographically-bound, it becomes even more challenging to land that dream job, or any job for that matter.

Moving beyond the defeat of not getting the job. This seems to be a theme of many of my clients lately. They keep applying, prepping for the job interview, interviewing and then… nothing happens. And they are left feeling defeated, hopeless, stuck, angry, wondering what went wrong, why didn’t they like me, why am I not good enough, etc.

I remember when I started my career in higher education and having a work history that included working in university housing served as a gateway to various positions in student affairs. What happened? When did it all change? Why is it so hard to obtain that next level position or the “dream job.”

How do you keep going when you keep hearing NO?!

Life is not for the faint of heart. Very few of us get through it without experiencing our fair share of disappointment, frustration and heartache.

When things get rough and you feel like giving up on landing that dream job, ask yourself a few important questions (jot down these answers):

· Why are you applying for the specific job you are applying for?

· Do you meet the qualifications? Or are you trying to stretch your experience and gain more skills?

· Are you running from your current position? Or have you done everything you could do at the institution?

· Have you written down your preferred work environment that would allow you to thrive?

Don’t ignore this exercise. Your list matters!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s like dating. You wouldn’t just date the first person you meet. You would have a list of characteristics your ideal mate would have. And the list gets longer after every failed relationship because you learned just a little bit more about what will and won’t cut it.

So, you should have a list for your job search. At the end of the day, you don’t want a career that you love. Just as you don’t want any ol’ partner, you want someone you can grow old with.

Have you ever been set up on a blind date and wondered what your friends were thinking? The moment you sat down across from the other person, you knew instantly that the date was going to be a long one and you would have to really fake it to make it look like you were interested.

This happens in interviews, too. You know right away whether or not this is the right job for you. So, your list matters.

Job hunting takes patience, but it’s okay to be picky. Don’t just apply to any ol’ job because you liked the title and the salary because if that’s why you are applying you may wind up with a job that seems impressive to your loved ones, but leaves you feeling bored and empty. And then you are like everyone else stuck in the rat race stuck in a job you hate for 8hrs a day, 40hrs a week, 180hrs a month and 2000hrs a year. That is a very long time to be bored and unfulfilled.

“Students First”

When did this turn into “Students First” with quotes? Who decided that when we make decisions on the students’ behalf, we let the data guide what we do?

Do the students feel what we are doing is for them? Do they feel that they come first? Or, are we so busy trying to get them out the door in 4 years or 2 years (transfer students), they feel more like a piece of dry cleaning?

Yes, I know we have goals that we must make: enrollment, retention, persistence, graduation rates, strategic plan, external funding etc.… but we need to take a step back and ask ourselves, while we are focused on achieving our many markers of what we deem as success, how we can make our students feel that they come first. This has to go beyond just orientation and weeks of welcome, speaker series, concerts, games etc.

Does each division, department, and program have a strategic plan to make sure that students feel they come first? Do the services they receive, the messaging, the décor of the space, the interactions, and the ongoing programs meet their individual needs? Or are we just going to say the buzz words “students first”, “student centered”, “students matter” while taking the same old actions?

I recently did an informal survey and asked 50 students from various institutions to define “students first.” For the majority of them it’s simple: to feel that they matter for the entire time they are enrolled. Not just when the institution is trying to woo them and convince them that they are best institution during a tour or orientation. We get students in the door… we get their tuition money, and so the job is complete and we don’t have to work for them anymore?

That bait and switch tactic leaves a majority of students feeling left out in the cold.

Here are my two cents: It takes only a few minutes to make students feel like they matter and an even shorter amount of time to make them feel like they don’t.

A few months ago a student found his way to my office after visiting five other offices where no one could answer his question. Well, I wasn’t the right office, but the student deserved better than being passed from one office to another so I picked up the phone and found the right person who had that answer. My colleague then came to my office to meet with the student. That student’s experience went from not feeling like he mattered to making him feel like his needs were a priority.

We need to do our best so students can do their best.

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