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living the dream: tough but possible (interview process)


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Hello GC!

Hope you are all doing well. I wanted to share the process I went though to land what appears to be the ideal job for me. I graduated in the spring and was working on a post-doc with a pending promotion to the research track. I applied to a few faculty positions (1 no, 2 no word yet, but likely no) and knew my materials were compelling, but with publications in review I was not top tier. I was doing exciting work that I enjoyed and the future was bright; the main issue I had was the salary structure. As a non-traditional student I have 20 years of practical experience. So, I see myself as a mid-career professional who happened to get a research degree to leverage my experience into a niche application. For pay purposes, the system wanted to value me as a recent graduate and it just wasn't aligned with what I thought my value should be. 

I was forwarded a job posting with an NGO in a leadership position directly aligned with my values and in a space that would allow me to apply and operationalize my research and the qualifications they wanted were a near exact match to my combined private sector/academic background so I applied. During my graduate work I realized that part of the process was meant to broaden my horizon and that maybe I shouldn't be too tied to the tenure track dream, as being overly focused on one outcome might stifle my ability to see other opportunities. This is a very specific role in hyper-focused boutique organization and the posting still attracted about 80 applicants. From the 80, 70 were culled before having the opportunity to speak with anyone. Translation: your materials need to be perfect and on point. First round interview took 10 to 6 and was with the recruiter. Second round 6 to 3 and third round 3 to the finalists; at this point I am pretty sure I was the only finalist remaining for the fourth round. I was offered and accepted the job. The process is emotionally taxing and difficult, but getting the result you want is possible. At the final table everyone one is uber-qualified so I tried (much as with grad school applications) to focus on fit. The other piece I tried to stress revolved around soft skills (creativity, communication, emotional IQ) as I hoped those could set me apart.

Thought I would share the process in case it helps someone gearing up for it. If you have specific questions you can message me. Take care, the role you belong in does exist and is attainable, but you might have to really search for it and when it comes along, go all-in to get it. 

Best,

QM

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