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Transferable Skills Talk: Understanding Higher Ed

An ongoing series in which we identify your transferable skills. Today’s edition: your knowledge of higher ed. When it comes to landing a staff job in higher ed, whether that’s a major university, small private liberal arts college, or community college, one thing you have going for you is your knowledge of higher ed. You might not see this as an important asset, but allow me to disavow any of you of that notion. When I’m hiring, once we get to the interview stage, there are 3 things I’m looking for in my candidates:

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Career Wanderlust

I don’t know about you, but with a vaca coming up, I’m having trouble staying focused. But did you know you can experience the same thing with your career too? I’m talking about career wanderlust. What is Career Wanderlust? You know you’ve got career wanderlust when are working, but you find yourself thinking more and more about looking around for a new job. Or paying attention again to those job posting emails that you had previously been ignoring. Or hitting up job sites more frequently. Or reaching out to colleagues who have moved on to ask leading questions about where they’ve landed, hoping they have great things to say. Maybe you find yourself feeling like your work isn’t as fulfilling anymore. Maybe you’d like to find a place where your work has more impact. Maybe you are envious of how another manager or department works better together as a team. Maybe you just want a change.

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Informational Interview Questions

Yesterday, I posted about something you can and should do when exploring a new career: an informational interview. But that post only covered how to schedule the interview. You still need to know what to ask during an informational interview. So let’s get started. Why do an Informational Interview? This is a low-stakes way for you to meet someone in a different career, explore how they got into that work, and get a snapshot of a typical workday. In other words, the point of an informational interview is to give you more data points on whether it might be a career that suits you and warrants more exploration.

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Resources for Career Brainstorming

It’s Monday, so I’m guessing you’re as braindead as I am. But when you’re job hunting or career planning, you still need to be working on your career, even when you don’t feel like it. So it’s a good day to take on something easy, like brainstorming. Brainstorming is a good way to make use of your time on days when you’re feeling sluggish or caffeine-dependent.  Like, say, Mondays. How Brainstorming Can Benefit Your Career Career brainstorming can help you no matter what career stage you’re in. When you’re looking for your first job or considering a career change, brainstorming can uncover new job families to explore. And when you’re in a career but feeling stuck at your current level, it can help you find professional development options you might need to consider in order to advance. Or when you’ve found a job you’d like to apply for, it can help you figure out how to identify and describe your transferable skills on your resume. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite career brainstorming tools.

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Build your network from connections

There’s not much that I dread more than networking events. So many of us (yes, even me) hate networking. Trying to strike up a conversation, nevermind build meaningful connections with strangers, can feel awkward at best, and at worst, forced and insincere. And for academics in particular, it can feel sales-pitchy, gross, and off putting. Yet there are real, tangible benefits to networking. Conversations with work friends can lead to opportunities. You might hear about an upcoming job opening before it gets posted. You’re more likely to find out the inside scoop about an employer. Your connections might approach you to speak on your area of expertise, giving you the chance to promote your skills and knowledge. Or when you’re a candidate for a job, you might know someone who can put in a good word for you (in addition to your professional references). Networking isn’t just about sharing business cards or building up your LinkedIn connections, though. For your network to be effective, you need to have or build relationships with your associates. You don’t want your connections to decline to connect, grow stale, or drop you because it’s a one-way connection. Making your network work for you means meeting people organically, and then thinking of your associates as real, genuine relationships. People who are not just looking out for you, but who are invested in keeping a relationship with you. So how can you do this? There’s two easy steps.

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