Levelling Up: Commitment, Resolution and Change

This brief video (just under 4 minutes) is about commitment, resolution and change. Inspired by words of wisdom from Chris Brogan on the Third Tribe Marketing membership site (affiliate link), Higher Ed Career Coach Sean Cook talks about “levelling up” and resonating with the market.

What advice or input could you offer about ways to improve the site and offer programs and services that would better meet your needs as a higher ed job seeker?

And what are you doing this year to “level up” and step up your game?

Job Search: Part Deux

Part One: Carpet Bombing

My first job search was spring 2008 when I was just about to graduate from the Student Affairs in Higher Education master’s program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  At that time I essentially carpet bombed the field with job applications; I did a national job search and applied to over 40 institutions.  It was too much to organize, it got to be too confusing keeping track of everything and everyone.

I managed to find the funding to attend The Placement Exchange in Boston and ACPA Placement in Atlanta.  In all I managed to have 20 conference interviews, for those keeping count, thats about a 50% success rate.  I was on my way to … disappointment.  I was sitting on cloud nine, I interviewed with almost half of the schools I applied at.  Well, those 20 interviews only resulted in two on-campus interviews: Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL and Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA.  In the end I was offered and I accepted an entry-level position at Point Park University.  Its ironic that I had to travel to Atlanta to interview with and accept a position from a school that was literally 5 miles from where I was living.

Now after a few years I decided that it was time to start looking for a new job.  It was February 2010 and I was in the midst of job searching and this was my second time going the the student affairs job placement process.  I knew I did not want to repeat my first experience, 40 applications, 20 interviews and 1 offer.  I decided that I was going to narrow my job search to only one region: New England.  I started looking at openings and thats when it hit me; I needed to update my resume and cover letter.  It had been a while since I had to use my resume so I wasn’t sure where I should start.

Enter Sean Cook

I had been participating in the #SAchat on Twitter and introduced myself to Sean Cook.  I learned that Sean had worked at Penn State and that he had just started his coaching business helping others with job searches, interview techniques, updating resumes and much more.  Sean started offering a free support group to job searchers.  In this group we were able to discuss a lot including expectations for placement conferences, interview dos and don’ts, resume tips and much more.  It was during this free group that I decided to retain Sean’s help one-on-one.  So I sent Sean a message and said I’ll pay you please help me!

At first I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Here’s this guy that says he knows what he’s doing and here I am looking for help.  Well it turns out that it was one of the best investments I made this year.  I first started by talking about what I was afraid of and what concerned me.  Then in our second session we jumped into interview techniques and reviewing my resume.  The best thing we did was a mock phone interview.  I’ve always felt I was a poor phone interviewer, Sean taught me several techniques to use during phone interviews. During this mock interview Sean asked some questions I have never heard before, some were really thought provoking and some were easy.  At the end we talked about my answers and he provided a great critique.  About a week later I was able to utilize the skills Sean taught me in an actual phone interview.  Armed with these new skills I went into the phone interview confident and at the end I knew I rocked it.

Job Search: Part Deux

The major difference between my first job search and my second was focus.  I was able to focus on the geographical area and with Sean’s help I learned to focus my energy on specific parts of the job search and not everything at once.  Throughout my ACPA Placement experience and throughout my on-campus interviews I knew I had Sean as a resource, someone I could call for support anytime I needed him.  My second job serach experience was so much better than my first.  I had less applications submitted, but a higher percentage of conference interviews and more on-campus interviews.  Clearly I had a better experience because halfway through one conference interview I was offered an on-campus interview!

One school I interviewed with was Western New England College (WNEC) in Springfield, MA.  I had two good conference interviews so i was confident going to my on-campus interview.  I arrived the night before my interview, I was picked up at the airport and dropped at the hotel by a WNEC Res Life staff member.  That evening I decided to take a taxi to campus to walk around and get a true feel.  I jumped in the cab and had a great conversation about the school and the area with the taxi driver.  When we arrived at the campus the first think I noticed was the trees and the buildings.  I noticed how quintessentially “New England” WNEC looked and felt.  As I walked around, I noticed students playing frisbee, tennis, catch and just hanging outside with friends.  Brick buildings, gazebos and lawns, these are things my previous campus didn’t have.  I knew that evening I wanted to work at WNEC.  I was so confident in myself that during my self-paced tour of WNEC I stopped in the bookstore and purchased a school pennant for my collection.

Ultimately I ended up being offered and accepting a job at WNEC.  While I did the heavy lifting, by doing the interviewing and applying, it was Sean who helped me build the confidence needed to be successful.

john mayo

John Mayo, Area Coordinator, Western New England College

John Mayo is the Area Coordinator for Traditional Housing at Western New England College. In addition to residence life, he has experience working in housing operations and student leadership development at very diverse campuses. Like many student affairs professionals, his family still doesn’t understand what he does, so he tells them that he teaches life skills to college students.

John holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in art and military history from Bridgewater State College, a master’s degree in student affairs in higher education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and is working towards a second master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University

Feel free to follow him on Twitter (@jmayojr) and check out his personal blog (http://johnmayo.me/).

Some Quick Updates

Things have been really busy lately and so today we did not have a podcast. I will try to return next week and start getting on a more regular schedule again. I am looking for guests, but have a few tentative topics lined up. Here are a few quick updates on some things worth checking out in the meantime. Thanks for visiting!

  • I found a great new web service called paper.li that lets you enter your Twitter username or a hashtag or a Twitter list and it automagically makes an online “newspaper” out of the links shared on those streams. I set one up for my @hiedcareercoach account, and for the hashtags #sachat and #saplacement. Check them out.
  • I never announced that I did choose LeaderShape for recognition for the August Who-DO award. I am going to finally get my act together in the next week to post a “who-do” award page and to actually send out the awards to the recipients so far. I plan to announce the September Who-Do next week. There won’t be a poll this time, because I have already chosen who to recognize. Polls will continue in the near future.
  • I am planning another hybrid coaching program to begin soon, and go through the placement season. I’m collecting information on people who might be interested through a new list. If you are interested in learning more, sign up here.
  • Look for more information about webinars on resumes, networking and job interviewing soon.

8 Weeks to August Program Closes Friday!

8 Weeks to August Coaching Program Information from Sean Cook on Vimeo.

(To watch on YouTube instead, click here.)

Higher Ed Career Coach Sean Cook delivers a brief introduction to his “8 Weeks to August” Career Coaching Program and his professional and personal motivations for offering it.

Registration for My “8 Weeks to August” program
closes today (Friday, June 10, 2010).

If you are still seeking a job in higher education,
you still have a chance to register at


I will not be extending the registration period past today (Friday). It will automatically close at midnight, or when the registration cap (20 participants) is reached.Why? Because I want to get started, and those who  have already registered probably would, too.

As mentioned in the video, please do not let financial concerns determine whether you join this program. If you want to be a part of this inaugural program, just sign up! If you can pay some part now, that’s cool. We’ll figure out the rest later. I’m also offering a money-back guarantee if the program doesn’t work for you, so the money part is neither here nor there to me. Let’s just make this an engaging, interactive, fun, informative and useful experience for all who participate. The rest will fall into place as it should.

So go ahead and register, and let’s get you back in the hunt, and on to a new job this fall!

Higher Ed Career Coach Sean Cook, pictured here in front of Tillman Hall, the "old main" buildilng at Clemson University, his alma mater.

Sean Cook, M.Ed., Certified Life Purpose & Career Coach, Publisher & Lead Writer

Sean Cook is a Life Purpose and Career Coach who specializes in working with job seekers in higher education. Prior to becoming a Certified Coach through the Life Purpose Institute, Cook earned his M.Ed. from Clemson University, and spent over 15 years working as a student affairs professional.

You can listen to Sean every Friday at 11 a.m. Eastern on His Higher Ed Career Coach Show on BlogTalkRadio.Com.

Today, we’ll be discussing more about the art and practice of the “elevator pitch,” as well as exploring essential interview skills for today’s job seekers. Listeners are also welcome to call in their questions and comments to (347) 989-0055, or by clicking on the Skype “click to talk” logo at the page for today’s episode.

#JobHunt No.11

Hey readers, it’s been awhile! My last #JobHunt entry was about re-entering the job search: handling the rejection of round one and keeping your spirits up for round two. I am happy to say that this is the last blog I will ever write that can be tagged with “#JobHunt,” as I have officially accepted my first full-time position!

I feel like I need to quote the Grateful Dead here – “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” What started last January with the first postings showing up on the OPE and TPE websites has finally ended in early June with a job offer and an acceptance.

And I couldn’t be happier. I found a position that, although it’s not in my top choice for geographic area, is probably a better fit for me than anything I applied for in round one. It just took me five months of interviews, rejections, campus visits, phone calls, parking lot pep talks, and intense one-on-one time with HigherEdJobs to realize what I was looking for and how to get it.

I found a position that is half Residence Life and half Student Activities, which is perfect for my already varied background in Student Affairs. I get to work with a variety of students in a lot of different ways. I’ve met some of my future coworkers, and that was a major part of my thought process when making the decision: Could I see myself hanging out with these people? That’s very important to me when I realize I’ll be moving over 1000 miles away from home.

My biggest piece of advice to those who will be job hunting next year: Use your resources! There are so many people in the field willing to help out, by looking over a resume, sharing a job posting, helping your formulate answers to common questions, and sending you funny text messages when you visit campuses to keep you calm. Not just professionals – some of your biggest support will come from other grad students who are also out searching. You’re all in the same boat, and it’s nice to know you’re not out in the job search sea alone! Plus, the thought of sharing a high-five when you all connect at a conference is a great motivator.

(And if you ever get the chance to blog about your experiences – whether for a website or just for yourself – do it! It’s a nice way to think through a lot of things related to the job search, without having to actually search.)

I talked a lot in my first entry about finding the perfect job, but that even working on a tropical island means having to deal with some jellyfish. I know there will probably be some jellyfish to deal with in my first year, but I’m looking forward to getting started in my new position. There’s a lot to learn, and I’m excited to take all my knowledge and experience from grad school and see how it works in the real world. It may not be a tropical paradise, but I’m looking forward to a lot of sunny days!

Though this is my last entry in the #JobHunt series, don’t rule out me returning now and then to blog about my first year as a professional in the field. I’m sure there are many more stories, revelations, and interesting tales to come. To everyone who has followed along my job search from the beginning – thank you! I really couldn’t have done it without all the kind words and supportive messages! Thank you!

Shannon Healy

Shannon Healy

Shannon Healy is a new student affairs professional.

(Editor’s note: I’d say more, but she forgot to tell me where! But you will definitely hear more from her in the future, as I do hope to have her blog about her first year as a professional. In the meantime, I am sure she’ll eventually tell her vast Twitter following. Or maybe she could just post a comment below.)