Avoid Remote Only Job Sites

When it comes to job searches, a lot of alt-ac clients want to find a job that allows them to at least in part work remotely. I know how important this is for academics in particular. 

So today I’m tackling one of the most common questions in my inbox: “Where do I find remote jobs?”

Why Academics Want Remote Jobs

Academics WANT control over their work. Autonomy and independence are some of the biggest reasons for pursuing academia and grad/professional degrees in the first place! We wanted to become experts so that we could exercise greater control over the kinds of work we do. The ability to make choices about what kinds of tasks we take on. The ability to schedule our own workday as we please. That is part of the expected deal. That what comes with deep expertise and authority over one’s subject matter is a more professional level of job. 

And these days, most of us are smart enough to realize that there’s often no compelling NEED for us to physically be in the office 5 days a week. (Or at all?!) Between Zoom, Skype, Slack, and I don’t even know what else, can’t we be connected no matter where we are? If dumb #influencers (yeah, I said it!) can work from anywhere, why can’t those of us with highly specialized knowledge and skills be afforded the same courtesy?

Why Academics Need Remote Jobs

And then there’s also very real needs. Many of us alt-acs NEED remote work – for all kinds of reasons. Many academics are members of dual-career households. Many are partners with someone who is faculty and/or otherwise geographically bound. My alt-ac PhD spouse, for instance, specializes in the archaeology of the Colorado Plateau. Even if I find a great job in Minneapolis, that’s not going to work for his career.  So should my career suffer when I’ve maxed out my opportunities locally?

Of course I’m all for finding the style and type of work that you need AND want, but I’m afraid I’m here to warn you that there is no great answer to this question.

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Flipping the School Day: A Win-Win for Grad Schools

Oh well now this is interesting food for thought for grad schools. Forbes published “Don’t Just Flip the Classroom, Flip the School Day” by Michael Horn. The article talks about rearranging the school day so that high schoolers could go to a workplace for the mornings, gaining real-world exposure to, knowledge of, and experience in the workplace.

Now what if we applied that model to grad and professional schools? You know: having part of the daytime “program” being dedicated to the students getting real-world externships and cooperative work placements, gaining real world work experience, using the remaining day / evenings to do the traditional disciplinary core curriculum?

Cynics will say: but students will quickly realize that there’s no point in them going to grad school. That their specialized degree does not serve any advantage, and thus would drop out of the program. To which I say: that might happen, sure. But really: it’s a win-win (or, actually, as you’ll see a win on three fronts)!

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Creativity is Required for Alt-Ac Career Planning

I’ve been thinking alot about creativity and career planning this week. Not just in a general sense of thinking outside the box, but more in the sense that career planning requires you to flex and use your creativity. And fortunately, for academics, this is one area in which we all excel.

All Work Requires Creativity

This is easy to forget, especially in today’s society where creativity is associated so strongly with only art. Or more dangerously, that it is an innate characteristic or talent, as if it is limited only to a select, chosen few – brainchilds who work in certain professions. Or that it is limited to only certain industries.

Creativity is a skill. One that anyone can use, that you can strengthen, that all work requires to some degree, and that most academics have in spades.

Most importantly, it’s a skill that’s required for making an alt-ac career trajectory work.

But what I have experienced is that hearing that you need to be creative might scare you. First I’ll break down why, what to do about it, and what role it plays in career planning.

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6 Resume Tips for Career Changers

Are you changing careers? Or considering it? Before you start applying, you’re going to need to do some work on your resume. The point of a resume is to land you an interview, so how do you make that happen, when you’re an “outsider,” up against people who have already been working in or training for your new field? It’s hard, but not impossible.

Your resume is going to have to convince others that you can play the part. So stop thinking about your resume in terms of a historical record of your achievements, and instead approach it as a document that supports your new objectives. Let me show you some key strategies.

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A Brutally Honest Cover Letter

The job hunt seems to take forever, doesn’t it? When you’ve been job hunting for a while, you may find yourself trying to think of new ways to say the same thing over and over again in your cover letter. It made me think: imagine if you could be brutally honest – how much easier and faster it would be to churn out a cover letter! So in honor of it being Friday (and me being braindead as a result!), here is my sample of a brutally honest stream of consciousness cover letter.

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Use an Annual Career Statement to Assess Your Career

Do you remember back when you were applying to grad school and you had to write a personal statement? In a personal statement, you have to explain why you want to pursue a graduate degree, what you want to specialize in (or in my case, what you pretended to want to specialize in because WHO REALLY KNOWS!), and how a graduate degree will get you on your career path.

Well, some graduate schools have started requiring their students to revisit and revise this statement at the end of each year. In the annual update, you revisit the original (or most recent version), and then revise to more accurately reflect your area of specialty, what you’ve accomplished in the year, and better align with your career aims, as all of those things may have changed.

Have you ever thought about writing an annual personal statement for your career?

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