Practice What We Preach

Contributed by: Addye Buckley-Burnell, Assistant Director of Career Development at Auburn University

july15.e1If you have held a search lately for a position in your office you are likely wondering the same thing as I have been, “what are these applicants thinking?” We work in career centers and teach students how to apply for jobs, but so many applicants (not all of course) seem to be making the same mistakes our students make…incomplete applications, not tailoring their cover letters, and of course the favorite, horrible resumes. PEOPLE!!! We do great work with students helping them along the way, but we need to start practicing what we preach. Of course there are exceptions to this rant who have wonderful documents and applications, but let’s be honest, you are the exception.

Marketing Materials

Guys…we publish our stances on resume and cover letter writing on our websites making it easy to know what our audience is wanting. Yet how many of us use this as a guide for our own documents? Why not? We have an advantage in our industry of having direct knowledge of how our audience wants our documents to look yet so often we just use our standard resume. We would never allow our students to do this, so why do we? Also, we as professionals have a tendency of letting our ego get the best of us and not having others review our documents before sending. With the number of grammatical mistakes, misspelled words, or general errors I have been seeing lately during search committees, it is obvious we are not taking this simple step. Look, we all make mistakes and it is so much easier to review someone else’s documents than write our own, so let’s just put our egos aside and ask a trusted colleague or former colleague to take a quick look. This small step could land you an interview.

Organizational Research

Do your research!! How is it that so many people do not bother to talk to anyone or even thoroughly review websites before applying or interviewing? Again, our offices put so much information online…USE IT! We are all on LinkedIn, our offices are all publishing blogs, social media updates, and often newsletters or annual reports, yet somehow there are still candidates who do not seem to know much about the offices and their services and resources.

The Application

Follow the rules….We would never tell a student that it is alright to submit an incomplete application form yet so often we will risk it ourselves. An incomplete application does not go unnoticed and has cost many candidates interviews. This means filling out all questions on the application, including salary expectations, and submitting all requested documents. I know the applications in higher education are very lengthy and we all want to get through them as fast as possible, but there really is no excuse to cut corners here.

Acing the Interview

Interviews are important and preparation is needed. No matter what type of interview you are facing, prepare, prepare, prepare. This means practice, research, and have questions to ask. I realize that interviewing in a career center is the most intimidating interview most people will face, after all we critique interviews every day in our jobs. But this is all the more reason to be overly prepared since we want a good interviewer working with us. And while I am talking about interviewing, why are so many people neglecting to send thank you notes? Job search 101- send thank you notes/letters to every person with whom you interview. It is just common curtesy and a hugely important in our world.

Now I know I have just ranted for this entire post and for those of you who are thinking, “Hey, I do all of this already.” To you I say, “THANK YOU!” After reading through countless bad applications it is a breath of fresh air to see your well planned and nicely prepared application materials. We have so many wonderful career professionals out there working miracles on college campuses around the country; it is great to see these applicants when we are conducting a search. Just remember that your own materials are a direct representation of how you will instruct students and we all want the best for our students and our staffs.


contributor_abuckleyburnellAddye Buckley-Burnell serves as the Assistant Director of Career Development for the Auburn University Career Center, leading a team of highly skilled and motivated career counselors and is charged with the formal assessment of the office. Addye is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and a Distance Credentialed Counselor with experience in a variety of counseling areas including mental health, academic and career. In addition to her work with individual students, Addye teaches a variety of courses included a job search/career-life planning class both on-campus and via distance education.


One thought on “Practice What We Preach”

  1. Preach! In our quest to hire a graduate assistant this time – applications were so poor I started directing applicants to our resources and encouraged them to resubmit after updating their approach. For another position we filled this summer – a well written thank you note almost got a candidate the job over another one who was much more qualified. If I had more time to train someone this fall…”Thank You Note” would have the job over “Super Qualified” who didn’t write one.

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