It's late fall/early winter. Suddenly you begin to put all the hints and signals together. That promotion which you were counting on is most likely going to one of your colleagues, not you. After you rehash what is probably going to happen and why then you decide that it's time to move on. A change of scenery and new challenges will do you a world of good, right? Absolutely. Now how to make it happen?
First of all, it dawns on you that your curriculum vitae is out of date. You haven't revised your resume in years. Sadly you realize that your resume and all your other job-searching skills are so, well, 2010. What are you going to do? Not to worry. Here are some strategies for the very competitive job market of today.
Get involved. Stay involved.
Hopefully, when you arrived at St. Swithin's five years ago, you decided to get involved. I'm not talking about involvement at school. That's expected. Indeed it is probably a contractual obligation. What I have in mind is your involvement in local community activities. Belonging to a service club or singing in the local choral society, for example, gets you out meeting people. Did you attend any workshops offered by your state independent school association? Better yet, did you help organize a workshop? What about those regional, state or national conferences in your subject area? Yes, it requires time and effort and no small expense to attend these kinds of professional gatherings. But you need to get your brand out where people can see it and experience it.
Getting involved unfortunately is not a quick fix to your immediate situation. But at the very least begin to take steps wherever and whenever you can to get more involved professionally. The wider you cast your net, the better the results.
Five years ago Facebook was around. So was Twitter. But you probably thought they were for hardcore social networking addicts. Since then Facebook and Twitter have empowered people everywhere in the world. The Arab Spring, for example, would have never gotten the traction it did without social media. Facebook has groups. Find one which appeals to your professional interests. A professional level of discourse, information, and research just like you'd expect to find at a conference is what you should hope to find and maintain within a Facebook group. If there is not a Facebook group which meets your professional requirements, create one and invite other like-minded people to join.
This video shows how companies use social media to vet applicants.
Be careful to set a polite, inoffensive tone on your personal Facebook page. You never know which trusted friend or family member might decide to share your posts and pictures. Assume that anything electronic can and will be shared. Facebook posts, tweets, texts, emails - the lot.
Social media is the new meeting place. It's easy to use. It has enormous reach. It isn't expensive. Now, nobody's expecting you to post three or four times a day. That's not necessary. Be strategic with your posts. Post something worthwhile. Imagine that a friend is sitting across the table from you and you are telling her about some exciting new research you just discovered. Or a great new book. Whatever it is that you feel professionally worthwhile is the stuff you share on Facebook.
What about Twitter? You have to remember that the 250 character limit makes your tweets short. Like the tweets or bursts of information they are and were designed to be. Tweets are great for congratulating your colleagues on achievements, noting special occasions and so on. Limit your tweets. Nobody needs to be bombarded every few minutes with your thoughts. On the other hand if what you are tweeting is newsworthy and relevant, then tweet as necessary.
LinkedIn? It's social media for business and professional people. And it's enjoying widespread acceptance because it filters out much of the static which Facebook and Twitter are famous for. LinkedIn members are there to talk about their achievements in their professional lives and careers. They are there to share information and experiences with their colleagues. Many private schools have their own groups on LinkedIn. Take advantage of those. You will know somebody who can invite you to join.
Being connected is a critical part of your job search and career advancement. Ignore it at your own peril. Your network usually is the best way to find out about openings and opportunities in other schools. Sometimes openings arise because of retirements and advancements. Sometimes openings occur because a school decides to add a program or revamp its organizational structure. When you stay in touch with your network, you will hear about openings and opportunities almost as they happen.
Update your curriculum vitae and your resume.
You have your curriculum vitae and resume stored on your computer anyway. Once a year, or more frequently if necessary, add new entries to your curriculum vitae. Your CV is a chronological record of everything you do and have done professionally. When you add events, honors and all those other professional achievements as they occur, it is much easier to keep track of them as opposed to trying to remember all those events and the times when they occurred.
Here are some resume and curriculum vitae writing basics.
Your resume will probably remain fairly static. Resumes need current employment and academic information, of course, but resumes should be customized for a specific job opening. Resumes are not one-size-fits-all documents.
An up-to-date approach to job searching just makes good sense these days. It will help you get the exposure you need in order to compete effectively for whatever job openings are out there. Embrace and implement the suggestions which I have laid out above. If you use a cafeteria approach and merely select the points you like or are comfortable with, you will probably not have the success you are looking for.
Find a mentor
I have laid out a road map for you. The next step is to find a mentor to help you find the job you want. Your mentor needs to be a friend or family member you can trust. She is the kind of person who can review your resume and your cover letter and suggest the tweaks it needs but which you might have overlooked. Use your mentor as a second set of eyes.
Your mentor can help you with interview preparation. If you have not interviewed for a position in several years, preparing for that first interview is critically important. Then when the real thing takes place, you will be confident and focused. In a very competitive job market you can assume that the other candidates will have prepped as carefully as you have.
Willo O'Brien explains how career mentoring works.
Your mentor will inject realism into any off the wall ideas you may have both about your capabilities and the location of that new position. It's one thing to move to the next town. But moving across the country is a different matter. You may think you are a good candidate for an administrative position. But if you don't have the qualifications and experience, perhaps you had better set your sights on some other position. Your mentor will help you clarify your thinking. Finding a position in today's job market requires up-to-date resumes and curriculum vitae. It also requires a robust network of friends and colleagues as well as a trusted mentor. Good luck!
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