NSCN Member Success Story: Karen

Read about Karen's experience with NSCN and her advice for NSCN members who are in the midst of their own job search.

How did you learn about the New Start Career Network (NSCN)?
 
I went to a local job search group and found out about it there.
 
In what ways did NSCN assist you in your job search?
 
I joined months before and didn’t do much with it at first. I had a medical issue and wanted to resolve that before moving forward (but then again, you need to keep looking all the time). I received an email about the training session and then the four-week session—Winning Resumes & Cover Letters*—and decided it was time to make a move and sign up. I think I saw the four-week session as a way to stay committed week after week which would motivate me more. At that point, the medical issue was resolved so I was getting more positive in moving forward.
 
What is your new job?
 
I will be a visiting instructor of accounting at a four-year private college in Pennsylvania.
 
Is this a new job in a different occupation or industry for you? If so, how did you position yourself to make the change?
 
My background is both in corporate accounting and teaching so I was prepared for this job. The college is a higher ranked college from my other jobs and my teaching was more geared toward county college teaching than a four-year institution. I also knew most colleges would expect at least an MBA, so I had gone back to school while teaching at the county college to help ensure I’d be able to transition to a four-year college if the need arose (lesson: plan ahead). Most teaching spots require a Ph.D. so you must keep checking when a job will take the MBA and CPA instead.
 
What type of career/job did you have before you were unemployed?
 
Corporate accounting and teaching at a county college (one semester four-year college).
 
How long were you unemployed before finding a new job?
 
I was unemployed for about a year and a half.
 
What was most challenging about your job search?
 
Perseverance. When the negative responses come in or all those job requests or requests to network fail, you sometimes want to take a few weeks off. I’d have to tell myself, “What if that is when the perfect job gets posted?” Keep going. Stay the course. Sometimes it required me to go outside my comfort zone. I wouldn’t have originally thought of applying to a school in Pennsylvania because the commute is an hour. I also usually avoided mass transit but submitted for jobs in New York and Newark knowing that might need to be what was required to get a job. So, open up job posts that might not seem exactly what you want and be open minded.
 
Second, I experienced frustration over varying opinions among job search experts. “Do this,” “don’t do that,” and the next person tells you the opposite. So, I kept re-doing my resume and that got frustrating.
 
What strategies or tools helped you get this job?
 
I actually applied online for this position. I was careful in picking who would do my recommendation letters to ensure I’d get really good letters and meet their deadline for submission. I thought “outside the box” and asked a student to write a recommendation letter for me. I checked LinkedIn thinking I wouldn’t know anyone working there since the college is in Pennsylvania and I live in New Jersey. Lo and behold, a former co-worker did work there. So, I tried to connect via LinkedIn but never heard back from her. But, during the interview, I mentioned that I knew her since she was a first level contact with the person I interviewed with (lesson: always check).
 
Also, I did my resume and cover letter and submitted online.  I then was waiting for my recommendation letters to be posted online by those people. I luckily did more research about the college and realized I should adjust some things in my cover letter to better match the job. So, I was able to delete and enter a new file. I was attending the resume and cover letter webinar at the time and also adjusted some items based on information gained there.
 
I felt the job offer was good but needed a little assistance in negotiating the salary up. So, I received input from the NSCN staff as well on how to pursue that and they provided useful links for me to read that were specific to the educational area that was related to negotiations. I was successful in my negotiation. 
 
What advice would you give to other NSCN members?
 
Take advantage of all the services, ask for help, and take the webinars. The resume and cover letter webinar was great and allowed me to submit my resume for review during the webinar, which gave me feedback from the presenter as well as other participants. I then made those changes. The timing of the webinars overlapped with my job submission for the position I took, so I didn’t get to utilize everything I learned in that submission.
 
What recommendations would you make to NSCN to better help job seekers?
 
Maybe more publicity from other job groups in the area. I attended a few different groups but I only heard about NSCN from one group. I didn’t submit right away because I didn’t feel I was out of my job long enough to apply. I’m not sure if they told me six months or a year out of work to apply. I then kind of forgot about it. One day, I either ran across a note or remembered it and checked it out.
 
*If you'd like to benefit from the valuable information shared during the four-week series that Karen attended, you can check out the recordings of the original sessions here: