The title of this week’s blog entry may seem somewhat contradictory. If someone has a job, surely they can’t need advice on how to find another one! They have been hired in one position, so surely they will know what to do when it comes to being hired in another? Well, you would think so, but evidence seems to suggest that getting your second (or third or fourth or fifth) academic job can be just as challenging as getting the first. So this week’s post is for those already in a teaching or research job, but fancying a move.
Those of us lucky enough to have a permanent job have a couple of choices when it comes to career building. First, stay where you are! Try to make yourself completely indispensable to your colleagues and slowly rise up the career ladder in your institution. Examples of scholars who are world renowned and happened to stay at one institution for almost all of their careers are many. You don’t have to move to get on: one of the scholars proving this is my PhD supervisor Bernard Capp, whose name will be familiar to those historians among you and who has been at Warwick University for all of his teaching career.
However, many people decide not to go down that route. Perhaps they are not 100% happy in their job for a variety of reasons: some personal, some institutional. Perhaps their career plan was always to start off at a particular university and then move somewhere different after a few years. Surely being on the job market should be easier the second time around, right? Not according to Phil Decker (a pseudonym) in Chronicle this week. He reckons that the pain of rejection and disappointed dreams is just as harsh each time you go on the job market.
At least when you are applying for a job having already got one you have some financial security. It’s not like you’re panicking because you have to get a job soon just to pay the bills. But this bonus can be offset by the fear of being ostracized by current colleagues when they find out you are applying for other jobs. Surely, they think, you can’t be loyal to our university if you are focused on moving elsewhere. And as Decker points out, you might feel guilt too at abandoning the university which first gave you a chance and hired you.
But although these fears are valid and real, don’t let them keep you somewhere when in your heart you want to move on. Any career move, whether you are at the start of your career or at the end, takes a lot of soul-searching. If you decide you want to move in order to climb the career ladder then be as honest as possible with your current colleagues and your boss. And don’t forget to develop a thick skin to protect yourself from the difficulties of jobseeking!