THE 3 P’S OF JOB SEEKING: PREPARATION, PERSISTENCE, PATIENCE
“I’ve applied for thirty leadership jobs over the last two years. I got six screening interviews; two of them were ‘courtesies’ due to contacts inside those districts. I moved on twice to a second interview and was then cut. I need your help.” This is a typical email that I often receive. My advice to those of you who are frustrated in your job seeking, and to those who are considering or in the process of getting certified is to practice the 3P’s of job seeking—preparation, persistence, and patience.
Financial advisors will tell you that preparing for a secure retirement should begin early in your career, and if not early, then as soon as possible. Athletic coaches know that good preparation is the key to winning. Similarly, early and sound preparation is essential to your school leadership career, and that includes your education and where you attend graduate school. If you are considering enrolling in a school leadership graduate and/or certification program, you should think about attending the most prestigious university in your area. I understand that tuition costs and commuting long distances are serious concerns. However, a degree or a doctorate from a place like Columbia Teachers College, or even NYU or Fordham, will go a long way in making you a highly attractive candidate in the most desirable and best paying school districts.
Another major component is your accomplishments. Serving on a committee, chaperoning school dances, and participating in the PTA sponsored fashion show, although good things to do, should not be confused with significant accomplishments. Accomplishments may include: initiating a new course or program that addresses student needs; chairing an important committee, writing a report, and doing a Board and/or community presentation; winning a prestigious award or gaining community, professional, and/or student recognition; writing and being awarded a significant grant.
Of course, preparation must also include preparing an effective resume, and preparing for job interviews. A great resume requires meticulous crafting and editing. Giving a great interview means constructing and delivering a compelling narrative that goes beyond what’s on your resume and letting the interviewers know who you are. To prepare a great resume and give a winning interview could require getting quality coaching and feedback from a knowledgeable and experienced coach.
Persistence means you stick with it; you are determined and diligent. Over the course of my career in public education I could have wall papered every inch of wall space of my living room with letters of rejection from school districts in four different states. I was runner up in scores of jobs. It took me 24 years from the time I got my doctorate until I got my dream job. I jokingly say that I was an “overnight success”. It is terribly disappointing and demoralizing to repeatedly experience rejection. Nevertheless, if you are determined to achieve your career goal, you must be persistent in your belief and your actions. If you are not getting interviews, enhance your qualifications. Chalk up impressive experiences and accomplishments. Become a summer school or evening school principal. Volunteer for important and difficult assignments. Re-write your resume. Have a career coach review your resume and suggest changes. Once you get more interviews, reflect upon and diagnose why you came up short. Adjust your responses to often asked questions. Again, work with a career coach to hone your interviewing skills and your answers.
Job seeking is not a 100 yard dash. It is usually a marathon. It requires endurance. You must believe in yourself. Your mantra should be, “Sooner or later, my time will come.” When it does come, I predict it will come easily.