In addition to being the time of year when the leaves start to turn and pumpkin spice is back in season, fall is also known as prime job-seeking time. And, with new COVID protocols, you really have to think about your strategy before you start searching to ensure success. Whether you are actively looking for a new job or think it may be time to leave your current job, we know the job search and transition can be scary. Here are a few tips to help all job seekers find the best fit for them in the social sector with a Halloween twist. (If you are an employer, we encourage you to read it too, along with our employer-based blogs, to remember what it was like to walk in the shoes of a job seeker).

Accept the job description as if it were etched in (tomb)stone

We encourage you to take a hard look at the job description and evaluate it for fit (e.g., Is this a good next step? Will I be happy in this job?). In recruitment, organizations always try to put their best foot forward, so be sure to ask outsiders (e.g., former employees, consultants to the organization) for their honest assessment of who is most successful in this organization. And, always manage your expectations – the promotions and meaningful projects that are promised cannot always be delivered based on budget or timing, especially in these tough times. One of the best tips for long-term happiness in your job is to accept the benefits and responsibilities laid out in the job description as if they were etched in stone. If you are looking for additional responsibilities (as an intrapreneur), find ways to add value inside and outside your organization to bolster your resume.

Leave your costume at home

No one likes a party pooper, but this is one time to leave your costume at home. One of the traps job seekers fall into is disguising their authentic selves for things they think interviewers want to hear. At an interview, whether it’s in-person or virtual, it should NOT be the jobseeker’s goal to accommodate the organization. Remember, you are both trying to find the best mutually beneficial pairing. We realize that life circumstances sometimes inhibit your ability to be picky, but when that luxury permits itself, ditch the costumes, be upfront about who you are and you (and the organization) will likely be much happier with the result.

Beware of the creepy silence

In spooky Halloween movies, that moment when the lack of dialogue is accompanied by creepy music is the cue that something ominous lurks. So too in job interviews. Candidates should listen closely for what is not being said to avoid mismatches. For example, if your priority is a team environment, and your interviewers use words like “independent,” “minimal oversight” or “periodic check-ins” and cannot give solid evidence of a culture of collaboration, then this may not be your top pick. Don’t be the horror-movie victim who doesn’t sense the warning signs – observe carefully and find the fit that works best for you.

Remember that there will be treats . . . and tricks

One of the most important elements to vet in your job search is your direct supervisor. Ideally, you will find a fit within the organization, but also with your direct supervisor. Remembering that your manager will come with treats and tricks is critical. Come prepared with your own questions and use your own behavior-based interviewing tips to assess their leadership style, decision-making process and preferences around organizational culture. Ask colleagues in your network (e.g., LinkedIn) about their experiences with your potential boss and the organization. Do your due diligence, but remember that fit is tricky. There is no perfect job situation, and you will be far better off treating it as a learning experience.

Happy trick or treating to all our Social TrendSpotters! We hope that your job search yields treats. If you have tips that can help other TrendSpotters find the right fit in the social sector, please share them with us.

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