This guest post comes from a post on the Professor Is /Out/ private FB group; the author kindly agreed to share here.
BIO: The author most recently served as a Lecturer of Software Engineering at an R2, teaching introductory computing principles and programming, computing ethics, and user-centered design before departing academia to seek work-life balance and chase her dreams.
Her goals now that she has left the academy include reading for pleasure, taking time off in the middle of the fall when she can enjoy the foliage, and spending as much time as she can with her family.
By the fall of 2021, I decided I was ready to leave the academy for a variety of reasons. This was not a snap decision. Like many of you, I’d been considering my role and what I wanted my next decade to look like for some time. Two years of pandemic pedagogy and the sudden, unexpected loss of my father had weighed heavily on me. I was, quite frankly, burning both ends of the candle to escape my grief during waking hours. When I finally reached that moment—the one that let me know it was time—I took several proactive steps to prepare for a successful job hunt.
I reworked my resume so that it was a single page and results/skills-focused.
This part of my job hunt seems to have garnered the most interest and I plan to write another guest post about this soon.
I signed up for LinkedIn Premium.
Signing up for LinkedIn Premium allowed me to set up job alerts for specific job titles and regions. It also provided me with a list of recommended jobs based on my profile. Speaking of my profile, I reviewed and redacted it until I felt it showcased my skills and talents. I also began following my dream companies on LinkedIn so I would be familiar with what was going on with the company and could get a feel for the culture.
I contacted references.
Most of the people I reached out to were no longer at the university, and the others were employed outside of my college. I chose a variety of contacts spanning my entire career in higher education, focusing specifically on those who had industry positions or higher-ed roles that were similar or senior to the positions I’d be applying to.
I told a colleague (who had already shared that they, too, were ready to move on) that I was job hunting.
It really helped to have someone to talk to throughout the process.
Once this was done, I applied for a handful of jobs using the following criteria:
Dream Companies Only
If I was leaving everything I’d ever known and worked for, I wanted to be headed somewhere I’d always dreamed of.
One of the primary reasons I wanted to seek new work was to transform my life at home so that I could be more present for my family—this meant seeking roles that afforded flexibility in time or location (or both).
Leveraging ALL My Skills
After transitioning from the humanities into tech, I was longing for a role that allowed me to utilize my writing skills, critical thinking skills, communication skills, and technical acumen.
I received a call about the first application a few days after I submitted it via LinkedIn. I met with a recruiter and began their very intense interview process. I was eventually transitioned to a more senior recruiter and completed the interview process in late November/early December. Hiring got mired for the holidays, and at my recruiter’s advice I put in applications that my interviews hadn’t qualified me for.
During this period, I saw a compelling listing at another company and submitted my application via LinkedIn. A recruiter contacted me the next morning, and by the following day, I had a video call with the person who would be my new boss. I was authentically myself. We discussed my reasons for seeking a new role and what was important to me as an employee, as well as what they valued in their employees at the company and specifically on this team. Things got quiet for the holidays, but in January I completed their interview process. The following week I received a verbal offer.
I reached out to a contact who had formerly worked at the company and a friend in the industry with lots of contacts who worked there, too. Both helped to guide my salary and sign-on negotiations. With their help, I was able to negotiate an excellent compensation package.
I contacted the first company I’d interviewed with and let them know that I planned to accept their competitor’s offer. The recruiter was so supportive and genuinely happy for me. They even asked if we could stay in touch for future roles.
Once I’d accepted my offer, I was able to negotiate a later start date to allow me to successfully transition my classes and responsibilities to my peers at the university.
People have asked about my background. My BA is in English, my MS is in Applied Computer Science, and my professional experience includes twelve years in higher education where I started as a receptionist before moving on to complex project coordination for the university’s largest college. After completing my graduate degree via tuition assistance, I secured a full-time teaching position at the local technical college before returning as a full-time lecturer at the R2 where my career began.
I am a programmer and yes, that did help, but I found that many of my other transferable skills—critical thinking, problem-solving, strong written and oral communication skills—and my personality were as important (and maybe more) as my technical competencies.
My best advice to anyone seeking to make the leap is to be authentic, know your worth and what you value, and be prepared to explain how your academic skillset could translate to any industry role you pursue.
Wishing you all the very best.
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