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HERC Career Blog

Five Steps to Kickstart Your Job Search

By Higher Education Recruitment Consortium
January 10, 2018

Finding your first job, your dream job or completely switching careers can be a daunting process for anyone. There is a lot to consider when looking for a new job in higher education – location, institutional culture, salary, job opportunities, networking, fixing up your resume, and much more. It can be tough to know where to begin, or what to do when the job search leaves you stressed and overwhelmed.

Here are five simple steps you can take to set yourself up for success from the start and make finding your dream job much easier!


1. Browse job descriptions and set some goals.

Before committing to anything, do some basic job searches just to see what’s out there. Check out what kinds of jobs are available in your area, or see what’s available in a place you’ve always wanted to live. Once you’ve done some browsing around, set up some goals to focus your search: positions that sound interesting, cities or institutions you like, or figure out what your “dream job” could be.

Next, sign up for an account with HERC, where you can create job alerts specific to your goals. Instead of searching multiple institutional websites or job sites every day, HERC will send you an alert any time a position opens up that you might be interested in! This will free up more time for you to work on step two:


2. Update your resume/CV/online profiles to achieve your goals.

Now that your job search has a clear focus, it’s time to revise and update your hiring materials. It’s a good idea to know if you will need a resume, curriculum vitae (CV), online profile (like LinkedIn), or some combination of the three. Then, create or update your current materials to fit the types of jobs and institutions you plan on applying to.

If you need help doing this, don’t worry! There are so many resources out there to help – including career advice and webinars from us here at HERC.

Once you’re done creating and revising your materials, upload them to your HERC profile so recruiters and institutions can find you. We work with over 700 colleges, universities, hospitals, research labs, government agencies, and affiliated organizations – all of which are looking for amazing candidates like you!


3. Research institutions and opportunities

At this point, you should have a clear idea of what positions you’re interested in and which institutions you plan on applying to. Before sending your application and resume, do some research on the institution itself. Here are some things to look for:

  • What jobs are available? Do they fit my professional goals?
  • Will they fit my specific needs to take a position there? (Consider things like relocation, dual-career programs, commitment to diversity, and any other “must haves” to work there!)
  • What kind of workplace culture do they have? Does that fit with my needs?
  • Who can I reach out to for more information on job opportunities?

At HERC, we can help with this too! The institutions that we’ve partnered with have institutional profiles you can view through our site. If you are part of a dual-career couple, use HERC’s dual-career job search function to see which campuses have dual-career programs.


4. Still overwhelmed? Seek out expert advice!

There is nothing wrong with asking for help – in fact, most successful job seekers do! Here are just a few ways you can find expert advice to help with your job search:

  • If you have a mentor, schedule a coffee or lunch meeting to ask for advice.
  • Attend local networking events. Networking isn’t always about landing a new job – they can be great places to gain more insight into the career field you’re interested in, or find out more about the institutions you want to work for!
  • Check out career blogs or webinars at HERC for advice on topics like exploring international careers, creating a compelling cover letter, or advice from expert recruiters on finding the right job.


5. Stay informed with professional journals, blogs, and newsletters.

In addition to asking others for advice and subscribing to job alerts, you should also find ways to stay informed about issues in your career field.

If you are a graduate student or adjunct professor, you may be able to subscribe to professional journals and organizations for a discount or for free. Professional journals are a great resource to learn more about your career field and the people involved in it, as well as opportunities for jobs, seminars, publication, and professional development.

If you want to work outside of teaching, many professional organizations have their own websites and blogs. You can find articles, blog entries, webinars, and other useful information online for free. These can be great for finding networking opportunities, getting specific advice for finding a job in your field, and connecting with institutions.

Another easy thing you can do is sign up for job search related newsletter. Instead of scouring the Internet or newspaper every day for articles on higher education, let HERC handle it for you! We partnered up with SmartBrief, a news publisher, to create a free newsletter about higher education news from leading sources. In addition to getting useful advice and timely news, you can show in your interviews that you’re informed about current events in higher education – which is always a plus!

Sign up for the HERC Ed Careers SmartBrief Newsletter here, and stay current!



Starting a job search can be overwhelming – but if you follow these five simple steps, it doesn’t have to be! Take things one step at a time, reach out to others for help, and use all of the tools you have available to make the process work better for you. You’ll be on the road to getting your first job, your dream job, or starting a new career in no time!


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