Entry-level professions are important in understanding the direction you want your career going toward. Depending on your institution, job requirements will vary for that ‘next rung on the ladder’ and marketing yourself is a great way to advocate as a potential candidate. Now I’ll be going over five steps for success in marketing yourself as an entry-level student affairs professional.
Step 1 - Know Your Audience
In order to successfully market yourself, it’s important to understand your audience. When you know which institution and department you want to work for, the next step is to study their goals. The internet will be able to provide you with great information on most departments (or at least their overall goal). The more you study about these departments, the better you can align your skills with their goals and advocate for yourself in a potential next-step role.
Step 2 - Know What You Want to Achieve
After a few years into your entry-level position, you may begin to realize how much you’ve grown as an employee and person. Your needs may have changed from that moment when you first received your offer and it’s important to know what you want to achieve out of marketing yourself. Entry-level student affairs professions give you first-hand experience, but what you do next is completely up to you. Even with only a few years of experience under your belt, you can achieve that new job or promotion. Building upon the skills you have learned and understanding what it is that you want to achieve by marketing yourself will help make your path ahead much clearer.
Step 3 - Utilize Social Media
Social media marketing has exploded with popularity in the last decade. Utilizing social media is crucial to marketing yourself because it can be the first impression that an employer has of you. Try searching for your name on the web, what’s the first thing that comes up? You want to be known for your successes and achievements online--and not for embarrassing photos. First, check all of your social media that is publicly available (and adjust settings if necessary) to ensure that it’s professional. Second, utilize your Linkedin profile. Linkedin has many great ways to connect to individuals in your field. Check to see how many of your colleagues are on Linkedin and connect with them. Then look at their connections that also work at your institution. If you see a department head that you’re particularly interested in working for, connect with them!
Step 4 - Keep your resume up-to-date
A resume is key to marketing yourself as an entry-level professional. This is where you can highlight the most important achievements in your current role and past roles. Haven’t had a lot of past roles? That’s OK! Having a wide breadth of experience is not as important as highlighting accomplishments in your bullet points. Your bullet points should be clear and display what is most important to the hiring manager at the position you're seeking. This means you can have several resume versions saved and be continuously adding and deleting points as they fit to different roles. Tip: Keep your resume to one page in length. Employers typically don’t have the time to look through multiple pages of a resume.
Step 5 - Network within your institution
I’ve mentioned that social media is a great way to connect with other departments in your institution, but it’s also beneficial to network while in office as well. First, start with your immediate colleagues. Have they worked with other departments? It may be easier to email them first and ask for recommendations (or introductions) to other individuals. Higher education institutions encourage collaboration, and this can be used to your advantage. In order to get your name out there, it’s important to be out there meeting others. This can be difficult during a pandemic, but there may be virtual events that encourage colleagues from different departments to meet. What about a promotion, are there any colleagues in your department who have that next-step role? Reach out to them about their experience. They may have started out just like you and have beneficial advice for receiving a promotion.
Marketing yourself as an entry-level professional can be intimidating but setting aside goals for the future can help break the process down into actionable steps. There is a level of reassurance in knowing what skills you have and how they can apply to that next-step role. Practicing your interpersonal skills will help you advocate for yourself when it may seem like there is competition for that next-step role. Remember that only you know your story and being confident in sharing that story will help you in your future student affairs career and beyond.
Author: Danielle Amaddeo (she/her/hers) works as an MBA Careers Team Assistant for the Career Center for Working Professionals at New York University, Stern School of Business. She is currently pursuing her graduate degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs at New York University, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. She is especially passionate about writing and currently serves on the NYU Journal of Student Affairs Executive Board as the Publicity and Recruitment Chair. She enjoys cooking new recipes, reading, blogging, and spending time with her puppy. Danielle can be found on Linkedin at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/damaddeo/