4 Tips for Finding the Job You Want

June 05, 2019


We all want to find the career of our dreams. The question is: Where do you start? In a recent #AAUWAsks Twitter chat, we asked five accomplished AAUW Fellows and Grantees to share their advice.

We picked participants whose jobs spanned a range of professions and industries, including (clockwise from top left in photo):

Jessica Pabón-Colón, a 2012-13 American Fellow and assistant professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at SUNY New Paltz. (@justjess_PhD)

Tasmiha Khan, a 2018-19 Career Development Grantee and associate campaign director of healthcare & maternal justice at MomsRising. (@CraftOurStory)

Ashley Velázquez, a 2018-19 American Fellow who received her Ph.D. in second language studies from Purdue University and will be an assistant professor at the University of Washington-Bothell this fall. (@AshleyJoEtta)

Kristen Johnson, a 2012-13 Selected Professions Fellow and civil rights attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. (@KristenJisHere)

Chitra Kalyandurg, an AAUW 2017-18 Career Development Grantee and director of engagement and arts partnerships at Kalanidhi Dance, a nonprofit committed to preserving a classical South Indian dance style. (@chittik)

Here’s a summary of their top tips for launching your job search:

1. Be real.

Formalities can only take you so far when you are presenting yourself to potential employers. “Tell your story. Your resume and cover letter especially should do that,” said Kalyandurg. “A list of experience and qualifications doesn’t express fully who you are and what you can contribute.”

Don’t worry if it doesn’t all go exactly as planned. “Don’t be afraid to ask to reschedule an interview,” said Velázquez. “Unfortunately, life doesn’t have a ‘pause’ button and there are extenuating circumstances that warrant you asking to change an interview date – and that’s OK.”

Also, show up to the interview — and the job — as the person you are. “I think queer folk and women of color need to hear this especially,” said Pabón-Colón. “There is tremendous pressure to abide by respectability politics to ‘get the job’ … but do you want the job that doesn’t want YOU?”

2. Be open and strategic.

“A mentor told me to always think about the long game. You don’t have to stay at a job you’ve outgrown,” said Johnson. “Talk to folks about what you’re interested in doing over time. Opportunities can pop up when you’re not actively looking. Be open!”

3. Stay connected.

“Network, network, network!” said Khan. You never know who will have a spot open related to what you’re looking for … unless you ask. “The worst that can happen is a no; think of trying to use that rejection as a platform to make it into a yes later.”

4. Believe in yourself.

“I wish I knew it was OK to apply for ‘stretch’ jobs — jobs where I couldn’t necessarily check off all of the prereqs but knew I would rise to the occasion if given the opportunity,” said Johnson. “By not even applying, I didn’t even give myself a shot!”

Focusing on your areas of expertise can also help combat feelings of doubt or nervousness. “No one knows your work like you do, and no one can talk about your work like you can,” said Velázquez. “At the same time, value yourself beyond your work.”

You can review more excepts of from our May 23 Twitter chat through this Twitter moment. 

By:   |   June 05, 2019