I'll admit that back in 2004, no one was using social media the way it is used today. If I'm correct, Facebook was still only for college students, Twitter was nonexistent, and social bookmarking was just becoming popular (Del.ici.ous?). When I was job searching for my first job, I used Google (today I've expanded that to include Bing). Now you can follow organizations via Twitter, subscribe to RSS feeds, and utilize email to make search efforts easier.

What are the best strategies at finding relevant jobs? Listserves? E-mail? Twitter? RSS? Personal acquaintances/networks/referrals? Interning? Volunteering? I'm not sure there is one best answer, but as you become more specialized and experienced the avenues in which you search may shrink. When I pose this question to friends, "How did you find your job, or how are you searching?" I can never get a straight answer. I think there are so many different ways, it makes the job seeker feel inadequate, as if this very question poses a threat to everything they've learned so far. Perhaps it exposes a weakness of not knowing where to look, or not searching hard or long enough. I can't seem to get a straight answer, or a confident answer from anyone. So I went over to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Finding and Applying for Jobs and Evaluating Offers. They have a bulleted list on how to search and where to search. At the top of the list: personal contacts, school career planning and placement services, and employers.

What works: I've been successful finding and taking jobs through these avenues: academic listserves, personal referrals, internships I completed through graduate school, networking, and asking professional colleagues if they knew of any work being done anywhere I was interested. I've contacted professionals within organizations and have set up informational meetings with them. I follow RSS of organizations I want to work at, and I subscribe to email newsletters of some job search sites. In addition, joining a professional (hopefully free) online network within your field can generate interesting jobs.

What doesn't: I've been unsuccessful finding and taking jobs that I searched through macro job site search aggregators such as Monster, and Indeed. They generate the least specific and accurate job sites, their postings are flooded with corporate and private job advertisements. However these sites may be perfectly acceptable for finding an entry-level job.

I think these search methods have a high success rate:

  1. Subscribe to numerous academic listserves. Academic, public sector, non-profit, and organizational jobs get sent out all the time, and often before positions are posted online. Google or bing "public + health + nutrition + listserv" and then follow directions on how to subscribe.

  2. Join a professional network that has some online presence; it's likely to aggregate job postings in a common area.

  3. E-mail your professional network, or those that you've worked with to put the word out that you're in the market for a job (provide interest areas, geographical locations, etc). Don't badger them; sometimes it works, sometimes they are too busy (e.g. professors), but colleagues and friends may be more receptive.

  4. Interning/volunteering. While I think internships have some great benefits to helping one learn the trades and skills in an applied setting, and grow your professional network, I believe that graduates of programs that likely completed internships in their trainings should avoid doing them. Most internships within public health (such as block field practicum) are often unpaid. There is a time and place for taking unpaid internships outside of school - a decision influenced by personal experience and circumstance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Dietitans and Nutritionists report that while job growth over time is average, those with bachelor degrees may face keen competition, and those with advanced degrees, certifications, or specialized training that go beyond the State's minimum requirement (of obtaining RD credentials) will experience the best job opportunities. The BLS seems to think that best job growth will occur in providing nutrition and health services in renal and diabetes, and within gerontological nutrition.

I'm going to take a public health approach to this. First, I'll check and see what the normal status of this problem is within the population; I'll have to establish a baseline measurement. Next, I'll see how this problem has changed (increased, decreased) over time. Then I will survey and obtain some formative research; I will utilize health behavior theories to design my survey contsructs. Then once I do this, I'll find a cheap (e.g free) way to distribute and collect my data. Then I'll report my findings back here. Stay tuned.

I'm working on a list of organizations and listserves - it'll be up soon.


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