The other day, I detailed who I included in my job search Board of Trustees. You should consider creating your own board – just be sure to include individuals from a variety of sources, who know different aspects of you and your life, AND who will be honest with you no matter how difficult the message is to deliver.
I want to share how I used my board as many readers asked how often I contacted them, format of the discussion, etc. So today I will share how I tapped into my board throughout my job search.
Discernment Phase: During my discernment time, trying to figure out what I should do – stay/go South Bend/new or same field, I met with my Friends, Spouse, and a local Senior Executive in order to discuss what was on my mind. These discussions were often 60-90 minutes in length and a few of them were scheduled as a lunch meeting. I was able to meet with one of my Colleague members when he was in town. It was a one-time discussion, but it allowed him a better understanding of what I was thinking.
I did not feel this type of discussion was appropriate for email or even phone calls – thus I decided to tap my local resources. These face-to-face meetings were very helpful as the members pointed out discernment steps and search ideas that I may have missed or been reluctant to try. Additionally, they turned me onto individuals who could offer insights on some pressing questions I had.
After I had crafted my gameplan for my job search, I communicated the plan to all my Trustees via a personal email to each member – I did talk with my spouse! It was important that they all understood my course of action and had a chance to weigh in. If I was asking these individuals to support me and my endeavors, they needed to support my plan of action as well. Additionally it was important to share the gameplan as I knew it would keep me accountable and spur on action. Just as a Job Club offers support and accountability for job seekers, I knew that if I said I was going to do something for my search, my board members would hold me accountable.
Updates: During the course of my local exploration and job discussions, I would send a periodic email to each member or catch those who were in South Bend for a quick meeting. There was not much to report at first, so the email/meetings were every 4-6 weeks or when there was news to report.
As I began to apply for opportunities during Spring 2013, I updated my Trustees every couple of weeks. I did this for two reasons: 1) it was important to communicate that my search had stepped up in intensity and thus their role may also increase in the near future and 2) I wanted the members to know my target employers in case they had any insight into them or contacts there.
Once I began to receive invitations for phone screen and initial interviews, the frequency of my updates increased as there was more to share.
Interview Phase: During the interview stage, I called upon different board members to practice interviewing and to seek their advice on interviewing with executives. Because of the timeliness of these meetings, some were conducted over the phone. Again, having a variety of board members allowed me to experience different perspectives about interviewing and focus my approach. For example, one board member works extensively with faculty and thus his advice prepped me for my interviews with faculty members.
My outreach to this group was weekly at this point. I would let them know when I was offered an interview, a quick synopsis of how I felt about the interview afterwards, and finally I would share the outcome once I found out.
Offer Evaluation: As I progressed through interviews, whenever I had the chance to speak (phone or face) with one of my board members, I would share with the individual what I was thinking and feeling about the opportunity. While most of the time I did the talking, it was very helpful to hear their insights and impressions. The questions posed by my board members after I shared my stories often gave me areas that I had to investigate further with the potential employer.
Finally, I was fortunate to receive more than one offer and so I tapped the insights of one senior executive and my spouse about the pros and cons of the offers. The senior executive who had experience in higher education offered insights that I had not considered. My spouse was able to offer words of challenge – was I leaning to one offer because I would be comfortable in the role instead of taking a larger one that would offer more challenge upfront and more opportunity in the end. Having my spouse as part of the evaluation kept the effect on family front and center to any career decision.
Conclusion: When all was finished, I informed my board members about my decision, thanked them for their help, and extended an offer of reciprocation if the opportunity should present itself. As one member told me when I was at my decision point, “Please let me know right away as I feel like I am going for this job as well. I feel invested in your outcome.” It is my plan to write a note of appreciation in the very near future once I am a couple of months into my new role. I hope at this point to share my findings and to complete the discussion on any points that a board member and I discussed.
I would like to note that the first job I applied to and interviewed for (it was early in the process) I did not receive an offer. It was a disappointment to me and to a few of my board members. The silver lining was the increased support of my board members after I did not receive the job offer. It was almost like they took the rejection personally and they were now bent on helping me even more when the next opportunity arose.
The job search can be a long process and having people who have agreed to help and support me made the process a much more rewarding one.