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When to start looking for jobs after new degree
May 1, 2011 10:23 AM   Subscribe

When coming from extended period at current job (3+ years), when should I start looking for other jobs after getting a second degree? (Library-related)

I've been at Job A for over 3 years. Job A doesn't require anything past a high school diploma, but I've taken on projects that are beyond the description out of boredom (and because I wanted to prove myself since this is my first really 'professional' job). Job A is at an extremely well-known East Coast university that looks good on my resume. I've had exceptional ratings on every performance appraisal.

I have a BA, a Master's in Administration, and will be finishing a second Master's degree in library science (no concentration, just general) at the end of December 2011.

Job A has made noises that they'll offer me a better position (full-time hours and a higher pay grade) for years but hasn't really begun to finalize anything until they found out I was getting towards the end of my degree. (They've known about the degree since day 1 and my boss understands that I may leave after finishing it because he knows that my position isn't really enough for me.) There has been nothing definite told to me (either in person or via secondhand sources who have been trying to keep me in the loop as to what is going on) except for being brought up to full-time hours within the next couple of weeks or so, once I get some "official" training.

Obviously, I'd like to stay at Job A, as long as they're willing to offer a higher paygrade (at least $40k, which would be double my current salary) and a professional job title. My boss should know this (although I haven't been quite explicit enough about how much I want them to raise my pay since I felt it was kind of tacky to mention that right when I heard about the bump up to full-time hours) and has communicated this to his boss, who is apparently afraid that I'm going to leave as soon as I finish my degree, which is partly true because I'm tired of Job A repeatedly telling me that they're going to make things better for me and not following through. Job A is very close to my home and I enjoy the atmosphere.

So, the second degree is in library science. (I know, I can hear the 'there's too many of us already' chorus.) Job A is in a library, albeit in a support staff position, so I do have some experience. I've got lots of projects to show my work and even have one publication under my belt (with others currently out for consideration).

I also volunteer at an extremely important big name archive and have been doing that for less than a year, but by the time I finish my degree, I'll have been there for a little over a year. There's a contract that I'll be volunteering at said for a minimum of 2 years. However, the commute to volunteering is 2 hours, one-way (but I only go there once every 2 weeks, so it's tolerable). If I were to get a job at the place where I volunteer (which would likely give me all the things I want but is also extremely unlikely as they rarely have openings for professional staff), I would have to sell my current house and move because I cannot do a 2 hour one-way commute every day. I would also want a much higher salary because moving to be closer to that place would require living in a higher-cost area.

I really want to work in an archive in some fashion, but I know that a lot of the work is almost apprenticeship-based and I lack a lot of experience in that area. I've had projects that are archivist related before and I do have the volunteer gig as well. The extra hours that are supposed to start in a few weeks are also going to be archive-related. My original Job A description has no archive-related parts.

Taking everything into consideration:
(a) How hard should I push at Job A to get the things I want? I'm afraid that if I push too hard, I'm going to look greedy at a time when budgets are tight and they'll just tell me to go elsewhere.

(a1) How long should I give Job A to get off their ass and give me what I'm asking for?

(b) I've been casually looking at various advertised jobs for a few months. When should I start seriously applying to other places? What about going to interviews?

(c) Any other advice? I'm terrible at interviewing (mostly due to lack of practice since I've just kinda randomly fallen into all the jobs I've gotten up to this point) but I hope that having lots of projects/papers (if they do get published)/experience in the field will give me some semblance of an edge over other freshly-degreed candidates.

Throwaway email:

Thanks everyone. I'm likely wayyyyyyyy overthinking things, but I need some advice from the hive mind here.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I didn't read all the details here, but if the question is "I'm graduating with my LS degree in December, so when should I start applying?" then the answer is NOW.

If you see jobs you like go for it. So it might be a tad too early--but these job searches can take ages. And in fact the job I had out of LS school I had applied for more than six months earlier originally. The first search failed (I didn't even get an interview), but then they called me and asked me to re-apply.

You sound like you have a strong resume and will impress potential employers. So start now because the more letters you write, the better your letter will get.

And all of this leads up to this: the very best way to get your current employer to give you a job is to have another offer in hand. I'm not saying not to apply for stuff that doesn't interest you just to manipulate your current employer. I'm saying that the reality is that they have no real reason to make you a good job. So applying for other stuff can help you in two ways: one, get you a job if your employer doesn't come through; and two, help you get a job from your current employer.

And you don't need to tell your employer you are on the job market or to push them at all. Just let them know (perhaps through the grapevine) when you have an interview. DO let them know when you have a job offer in hand. They should be able to pull together a counter offer quickly. If they can't, they are not sincere.

Also, don't say "at least $40,000." At least not to your employer. Your university should make the first offer, and you need to ask for more. You have two relevant grad degrees and tons of relevant experience. Ask for WAY more--they'll be expecting it anyway.

I'm sorta passionate about helping out new LS grads (we don't get nearly enough information in school about how to do all this), so feel free to mefimail me if you have more questions. Good luck!
posted by bluedaisy at 10:34 AM on May 1, 2011

Start applying now. That way, you'll know what else is out there and be in a position to decide, based on your real options, whether to stay with whatever offer you can get from Job A or move to a different job. Also, you'll be much better able to negotiate at Job A if you have the confidence that comes from having other options. But since it sounds like you don't actually want to be at Job A long-term, I'd make Job A the backup plan and finding a new job your first priority.

Also, practice interviewing. Grab a friend or make an appointment with career services at your school and practice. Ask colleagues at your volunteer position out for coffee to talk with them about your career prospects and how to get jobs in your chosen field. Write drafts of resumes and cover letters and circulate them to people you trust for their comments and advice. In other words, practice the skills that get people jobs. You seem to have the makings of a pretty good network, so use it. Good luck!
posted by decathecting at 10:35 AM on May 1, 2011

As to (a) and (a1); your boss knows that you're about to graduate and you're ready for a more professional job. Your boss' job is to save the university money as best he can. If there is already a fear that you're going to leave when you finish school, you need to have a frank talk with your boss that doesn't burn any bridges. You need to say something akin to the following:

"{Boss}, I'd really like to stay working here. I like the people, the atmosphere, and over the past three years, I know the ins and outs of this place better than many. But unfortunately, once I get my degree in December, I cannot stay unless my pay grade and title can reflect my level of education. I'd be willing to defer a promotion until my degree is conferred in December because I understand that there are budget considerations. I am telling you this because I think it's important that we be honest with one another about my future here. If you don't think a promotion is possible here, please tell me as soon as possible because I will have to look for another job. That would be a shame, though, because it would be hard to replace the institutional knowledge and affinity I have for {workplace}."

You should give your boss about a month to get the paperwork submitted for a new pay grade and title. If you don't get something in writing in a month, it's time to start looking.
posted by juniperesque at 11:13 AM on May 1, 2011

Agreeing that you should start looking NOW. I graduated back in December 2003, started looking in November of that month, and it was August before I was hired. And that was before the current budget crunch - it would probably have taken much longer if I were looking now.
posted by telophase at 10:52 AM on May 2, 2011

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