What Are You Looking For?

As placement conference season comes to an end and most departments are in the middle of “on-campus” recruitment season, I can’t help thinking of Lionel Richie’s lyrics, “Hello! Is it me you’re looking for?” Having just been an undergraduate student on the job-searching side of recruitment and now serving on the recruitment/search committee for a department, the best phrase I can think of to describe both sides of the process is, “What are you looking for” (preferably sung in the Adam Lambert’s “whataya want from me” style). It can be a grueling process on both sides of the table, but I believe if we recognize the tremendous opportunity we have in searching for a job, we can learn to see the adventure and excitement that exists in this process.

As a candidate, what are you looking for? There are so many jobs out there, so many departments, and so many institutions. You can probably see yourself doing a handful of jobs, but, as I remember, there is that little question in the back of your mind asking you – what is it you’re looking for. The best way I can describe it, as cliché as it may sound, is “fit.” That almost magical moment when you can not only see yourself in the position or in that department at that institution but when you can see yourself interacting with the people there and being truly happy. In an #SAchat last week, one of the questions asked participants how they felt during their most recent job search. Many respondents stated they felt anxious, nervous, and unsure. Why do we feel this way during our searches? Let us be confident, humble, and adventurous. I think the first step to these feelings is recognizing the privilege we have already of having a position that will help us in our search.

This year as an employer, conducting interview after interview with awesome candidates for all four days of TPE, I found myself asking a similar question – what was I looking for? Or better yet, what was I supposed to be looking for? As a recruitment team, we were looking for the new professionals of the department, but not only that, we were looking for our colleagues, peers, and hopefully friends. Going through this side of the process, it was further echoed that this methods highlights fit. As employers, how do we go about finding candidates who fit with our departments, institutions, and regions while removing our own personalities and looking at only the qualifications? How do we find the balance between both? You were probably selected for your recruitment team based on how you would represent the department, so it is crucial to recognize how that can play into “fit” for candidates. I was not only helping my department find future Residence Life Coordinators, but I was helping recruit the potential supervisor of my peers (potentially my own supervisor), colleagues for my colleagues, and new people to befriend. As employers we have the privilege of already being in a job. I encourage you to think about whom and what opportunities helped you along your path and how you can help those who may not have similar opportunities through a sometimes-nerving process. It’s just as important for us to give back to the field by mentoring just as our mentors assisted us.

There are no clear-cut answers in recruitment and finding fit, it is as some may say, a truly magical moment. So remember, in an Adam Lambert fashion to ask yourself, what are you searching for?

In peace,

Ryan Bye

Student Affairs - the First Years

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