Friday, 21 September 2012

More failure in the academy ... Part 3

So, what have I learned from my job application and interview experiences?
  1. I learned a lot about the whole process during my PhD. I started applying before I had finished and even before my final year. This experience and the mistakes that come with it are better to do now than when you really need a job later on.
  2. I also learned a lot from my peers, especially those who had successfully applied for and got offered jobs. I asked them for help and several kindly gave me their CVs and covering letters to look at. These helped me to refashion my own and definitely helped me to improve. So, ask for advice and ask to see examples from friends or colleagues or mentors. There is also help, as I keep mentioning, from the likes of the Professor Is In website.
  3. You have to accept that the people who get a job you applied for are no more experienced (or even relevant) than yourself. They may just fit the needs of a department better or come across better on the day. In this sense, a lot of the job application process boils down to blind luck; you’re the right person at the right time. And the reverse, bad luck – not the right person at the wrong time.
  4. You have to be prepared to move since there really is no such thing as institutional loyalty. In my opinion it is actually harder to get a job in an institution you are currently working (or studying) at than a new one. This is for the very simply reason that you already work there so why would they offer you a new post and lose out on getting another person - you're going to stay anyway, aren't you? So, look elsewhere for jobs - this means you have to be prepared to move, although it doesn't mean you need to move anywhere. Think of places you'd like to work and live - you might not get a job there but you can at least keep an eye out for opportunities.
  5. On the day enthusiasm is a must. Preparation is also crucial for the interview. Make sure you know what the department is actually about and how you can fit into it (i.e. what you bring to it, not what it can do for you). Moreover, don’t be presumptive just because they've invited you for an interview; do your homework and realize that job applications and interviews require a bit of work.
  6. Apply for jobs every couple of years as it will keep you sharp and in the loop. Even if you don’t want to leave your job, it might be a good idea to remind the management that other places value you. This means keeping an up-to-date CV and cover letter.

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