You’re Almost There: Tips for the Job Search
Authors: Charlene Zhang, Martin Yu, Arielle Rogers
What do you want to be when you grow up? Did you always want to be an I/O psychologist? Or did you originally want to be an astronaut and recently decide that I/O psychology was more interesting? Whatever your story is, the job search is a common struggle that brings us all together.
The transition from being a student to a member of the workforce is never easy. A large part of the preparation for this role shift surrounds the job search process. We provide a number of tips from experience that might help you navigate the process.
1. Have a clear understanding of your strengths as a potential new hire.
Just because your expertise is in bricklaying doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to jobs for laying bricks. Your strengths are transferable, and stones, rocks, and even eggs need to be laid too.
Your strengths could be substantive I/O topics that you have focused on in your graduate school career. For example, if your main area of research is leadership competency, you may be a great fit for a role that specializes in leadership assessment. However, a lot of us studied hyper-specific constructs or methods that may not be directly relevant or applicable to many jobs. That is okay! Instead, you can think about skillsets or experiences that might set you apart. Have you logged a lot of hours conducting subject matter expert workshops? Do you pride yourself on your presentation and communication skills? Are you used to working with large and messy datasets? Do you have expertise in big data methods like machine learning and natural language processing? Any of these can be capitalized as your primary strength as you enter the job market.
2. Be explicit about what you are looking for but keep your options open.
Maybe your dream job isn’t hiring at the moment. It isn’t every day that a company hires an I/O psychologist astronaut for their lunar office.
It is natural to start the job hunting process having an idea of your dream job, whether it be the industry (e.g., internal vs. external), the nature of the role (e.g., client-facing vs. product development), or even specific companies. Although it makes sense to focus the majority of your energy on pursuing the role you have in mind, do not completely close the door to other opportunities. Sometimes just an interview can open your eyes to a corner of the industry or pique your interest in work that you were not aware of before.
3. Make networking fun.
Your network and support group should be able to provide more personal advice than three strangers on the internet can provide. If you can dream just send a wish out, and when you need them, they’ll be there!
The importance of networking is reiterated on any list of job search-related tips. However, networking does not have to equate to the intimidating image of walking into a room full of professionally dressed strangers and trying to infiltrate the circle. It can be joining a mentorship program like the one organized by PTCMW that pairs you up with someone who has knowledge or experience that could be informative to you. It can also be reaching out to your own network and getting back in touch with old classmates, internship managers, connections of friends, etc. It is also important to remember that networking is ultimately about building relationships. That means that those difficult and awkward inquiries about job openings or requests of a referral will come much more easily and naturally once a relationship has been established. Be curious and show genuine interest in others’ work and experiences.
4. Set yourself up for success early.
Stick your foot into as many doors as you can. If you stub your toe, take it as a learning experience and try a different door.
For those who are still a year or two away from going on the job market, it might not be too early to start thinking about your career goals. It is not uncommon for companies to hire recent interns for full-time roles, so the last internship as a graduate student could be instrumental in shaping your career. Whereas you might be trying different things and getting to know the different facets of I/O with your earlier internships, you might decide to treat the choices of your later internships more similarly to your eventual job-hunting process. If the option is available, try to land a role that you could see as your first job and use it both to assess the fit between your skills and interests and what the role has to offer, as well as an opportunity for you to demonstrate your capabilities to the company. A great performance as an intern could be your foot in the door.
5. Do not take rejections personally.
If it’s been a year and a company still hasn’t responded to your application, it doesn’t always mean you have been rejected. Maybe they just lost the password to their email account.
This is undoubtedly easier said than done, but it is important to keep in mind that a number of factors that are outside of your control impact whether you receive an interview or an offer. Sometimes rejections speak more to the fit between your particular skillset and the role being filled rather than your overall competitiveness as a candidate. Sometimes companies can modify the job description due to internal considerations that make you no longer qualified. Rejections or not hearing back from organizations can be disappointing, but just remember that it often is not you.
The job search can be a stressful time, but it is also a celebration of all your accomplishments to date. Take it as an opportunity to show off who you are and to reinforce the skills that you have developed. Once you have received that first job offer, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you are successful.
Ready to Start Your Search? Below are a few helpful sites that list openings for applied and academic I/O psychology jobs and internships: