EdTech 505 – Final Evaluation Report (Fall 2012)

Looking for Jobs in Academia

An Evaluation of a Personal Process

Summary

Everyone wants to have the perfect job for themselves. If they never find it, they want to know that they did everything in their power to search, interview and hope. In the end, they will know that they simply weren’t the right person for the job, rather than feeling like they didn’t do enough. That is the sort of process that I want for myself – I want to know that I did everything I could to find what I’m looking for.

As part of the evaluation procedure, the history of my job search techniques was described in an effort to lead into the current state of affairs. The evaluation method used was an interactive one, where I was part of the team and feedback was incorporated into the program. I used surveys in an effort to both get feedback from my peers and organize my own data collection.

The evaluation determined that the job search process is individual and while there are some things that can be done to streamline it and make it more successful, those are going to vary from one person to the next.

Description of the program evaluated

I hope that I’ll be able to look at my job search and see how I can make it more efficient and effective.  I will use data from web searches and from surveying colleagues, friends, and family to create a clear picture of my job search process. While this program is geared specifically toward me, it is possible that this evaluation could be of use to other academic professionals wondering where to start with a new job search.

Length of the program is going to vary from one person to another. In my case, I hope to search for and be hired in a new position within about 5 months. However, this process can take anywhere from 1-18 months. I hope that by distilling the process down to basics and good quality resources, I can decrease the average amount of time it takes for people to find appropriate jobs to apply for.

Program Objectives

In order create these objectives I thought about what I needed from a job search. I need to be able to complete the search on the go or in between doing other things – when I finally have a break from school, there is going to be so much that I want to do and while finding a job will be a top priority, it will be far from the only thing I am focusing on.

  • The first program objective is to be more prepared to find a new job.
  • The second objective is to determine the most popular and efficient method for searching for jobs.
    • What websites are the most popular?
    • The third objective is to determine what my peers find valuable in a career search.
      • What resources did/ do they utilize in their search process?
      • Most valuable career resources.

Program Components

Services

Determine appropriate jobs through entering key words into job search engines online.

Procedures

Jobs found through first using the search engine Google to find sites on which to search for jobs, such as careerbuilder, higheredjobs, or craigslist.

Read through job descriptions and determine appropriateness based on my qualifications.

Material

  • Computer
  • Internet access/ email
  • Flash drive
  • Resume file
  • Cover letter file

Evaluation Method

Participants

I found most of my respondents via twitter and facebook. I created the survey using Google and posted a link, asking politely for people to respond to the survey for me. In order to make sure that I had as many respondents as I felt I needed, in order to be able to perform some analysis on the data, I wanted to get more than 50 responses to the survey.

My response rate is approximately 42.4%. The actual value is wildly variable because of the mediums I used to deliver the survey – on facebook, I had a population of about 100 people and through utilizing Twitter, I had access to roughly 30,000 people. It is impossible to say how many of those accounts are inactive, weren’t paying attention to Twitter, or simply didn’t care about filling out the survey.

I found my sample based on the people that were willing to fill out a survey for me. I knew that Twitter would be a good resource. One thing I should have done is make two separate surveys, one for twitter and one for facebook. If I had done that, I would have a much better idea of the makeup of my population sample.

Dr. Alec Couros of the University of Regina posted my survey to his 26,000 followers on Twitter per my request. I do not know how many of my respondents resulted from him sharing my survey with them, but I appreciated the help nonetheless.

Procedures

There’s an old adage that says it’s all about who you know. For me, sometimes, it also is a matter of luck. For example, in May of 2006, I was volunteering at the hospital in Tillamook, and met a lady whose husband was leaving a small engineering firm up the coast. She thought I should apply for his job. I did and worked there for a little over a year before realizing that I really wanted to work in education.

After a temporary stint at a middle school in Seaside, I stumbled onto a newspaper ad that did everything shy of ask for me by name. I applied and was hired to work in Coos Bay, where I stayed for 2 and a half years before my grant-funded job ended. In this case, I believe luck played a role in getting this position. I learned that I really fit in well within the community college setting, and that there is a variety of opportunities for someone like me.

I came home to Tillamook to work on my Master’s degree. I collected unemployment for a short period of time before starting work at the hospital in town as a Data Analyst. Later, I also tacked on a part-time position at the local community college. I found this job through sheer obsessive compulsion. I knew that I wanted to work at the school and at just about every available moment of every day, I clicked on their employment link to see if anything was available. I applied for the first thing that popped up and was hired.

Since that time and knowing that I didn’t have long before I was done with school, I have been looking around for the perfect full-time position. My search has been sporadic, at best, and inefficient. This fall, I saw a perfect opportunity to re-evaluate what I was doing as someone that is actively looking for a new job.

While working on this class, I have been conscious about what I am doing in my job search. Rather than hope I will be lucky enough to stumble on to something, but not wanting to make myself crazy, I have been sticking to one website, for the most part – http://www.higheredjobs.com – and exploring websites of schools and organizations that are particularly interesting to me.

This conscious effort to make my process less crazy, while it hadn’t yet incorporated any of my survey results, was a result of knowing that I needed to evaluate the process.

Data Sources

My first data source (Appendix, page 11) was a Google Form that I used to visit each of the following job search web sites.

I entered the site name, the search terms I was using, and the locations in which I wanted to find jobs. I reported the number of results for each set of search terms in each location, for each website.

The search terms I used included the following:

  • Academic Advising
  • Distance Education
  • Faculty Development

The locations in which I searched for jobs included the following:

  • Portland, OR
  • Denver, CO
  • Seattle, WA
  • Boise, ID

My second data source (Appendix, page 11) was also a Google Form. I asked respondents about their job search habits, interests, and success rates.

Results

Survey of Peers distributed via Facebook and Twitter (Appendix, page 11)

Respondent Demographics
Average Age (yrs) 36.9

Figure 1 Demographics of Respondents to Survey

Figure 2 Breakdown of where respondents were located, based on survey responses.

Survey Results
Most Popular Web Resources Individual Company Websites
  http://www.linkedin.com/
  http://www.google.com/
  http://www.monster.com/
  Newspaper Websites
Average Success Rate 49.1%
Avg. Time (hrs) Spent/ Week Searching 8.5
Avg. Time (yrs) in Current Position 7.0

Figure 3 Results of Survey Distributed to Peers via Facebook and Twitter

From the results, there does not appear to be a correlation between a high rate of success in the job search and spending more hours looking for a job. In fact, as one of the respondents with a high success rate pointed out:

“Let people you trust know you’re looking or at least interested; you can’t overestimate the power of a personal suggestion made in a timely way.”

This reinforces my belief that the job search can sometimes be about who you and about a little bit of luck. You also need to be receptive to new possibilities.

Search on my own for jobs (Appendix, page 11)

My Search
Site with Most Results Chronicle of Higher Education | http://chronicle.com/section/Jobs/61/
City with Most Results Seattle, WA
City with Least Results Boise, ID

Figure 4 Results of my internet search for suitable positions.

This was a really cursory search, where I did not look at any of the results in-depth. For example, I know that most of the results for the Chronicle of Higher Education resulted from the search terms “faculty development” without quotes, and I know a lot of faculty positions are posted on that website. Therefore, most of those positions would not be appropriate for me.

Even looking at this search by city, where Seattle and Denver generated the most results, doesn’t give me a perfect indicator with respect to where I should be looking for jobs, or even what jobs are available. Most recently, I found the best postings for my set of skills in Coos Bay, Oregon and Nampa, Idaho. However, Boise generated very few results in this search.

Discussion

The purpose of this evaluation was to help me streamline and organize my job search, thus making it more successful. I stated that I wanted to make sure I was doing everything in my power to make sure that I find what I’m looking for.

The results of my data collection indicate that there is no great correlation between success in the job search and amount of time spent on the job search. More than one person that completed the survey indicated that they rely on referrals as part of their search for new ventures.

Survey of Peers

The results of my program, which consisted mainly of a trial search and a survey of my peers (Appendix, page 11), were mostly inconclusive. The data I collected from my peers indicated that there was no correlation between the success rate of people looking for employment and the amount of time spent on their job search, as seen in the following plot.

Figure 5 Time spent looking for work vs. Success rate in looking for work.

The R2 value indicates the level of correlation between the 2 sets of data – if the R2 value is close to 1, there is a very high level of correlation between the 2 sets of data. If, on the other hand, the R2 value is close to zero, then that indicates that there is very little or no correlation between the 2 sets of data.

In a larger sample, I think I might find some kind of correlation among a long time (per week) looking for work, a low success rate, and a high number of sites visited online. This process is inefficient and one of the things that I learned from collecting this data is that my search process might not be all bad.

If I had spent more time culling a population sample, rather than posting a link to the Twitter community, I would have seen different but not necessarily better results. Maybe there would have been a correlation between hours spent searching online versus the success rate of applicants, but it might not have been a good or positive correlation.

My Search

When I searched for jobs on my own (Appendix, page 11), I got results that I expected. I found that there were more postings in larger cities like Denver or Seattle. I found that there were fewer postings when I used search terms grouped in quotes (for example, “faculty development”) than if I entered the search terms without quotes.

Unfortunately, when I do not use quotes in my searches, I wind up with results that I did not necessarily want. For instance, when I searched the website for the Chronicle of Higher Education, using the search terms “Faculty Development” (without quotes) and choosing a location of Colorado, the site produced 21 results. However, when I instead entered the search terms “Faculty Development” (with quotes), the site produced zero results. I am more interested in results from the second search.

Here is a summary of my search from the Chronicle of Higher Education’s website:

Search Results – The Chronicle of Higher Ed
Site Address http://chronicle.com/section/Jobs/61/
Search Terms Academic Advisor Distance Education Faculty Development
Locations Seattle, WA 0 3 21
  Denver, CO 1 3 27
  Portland, OR 2 3 41
  Totals 3 9 89

Figure 6 Table Summarizing Search Results at Chronicle Website

With this evaluation, I set out to streamline my job search process. I wanted to evaluate my process in order to make it more efficient and successful. Since I focused only on the search portion of the job search process, I did not actually apply for or interview for any positions. How do I define whether the evaluation was successful, then?

Heading into the next phase of my job search, I will be focusing my efforts on the Pacific Northwest and Colorado. When I go online to search, I will continue to focus on using http://www.higheredjobs.com/ and the categories of “Instructional Technology and Design,” “Faculty Development,” and “Distance Education.” For the purposes of this evaluation, I used “Academic Advising” as one of my sets of search terms, because I wanted to make sure that I generated results.

A couple of things I will do differently with my job search, heading into the next phase, include setting aside a particular chunk of time, during the week, when I can search for jobs and work on applications. Over the break, I will also try to refurbish my resume and a good cover letter that I can cater to each position. The main change will be considering the job search another job; something that must be completed.

Cost

Your bill shows the daily cost of hiring me as an evaluator, as well as any incidentals that occurred over the course of our partnership. The daily cost is based on my typical hourly wage of $31.25.

The “Fringe” cost mentioned includes food or emergency costs that might occur over the course of the evaluation. Cost of copies and mileage are based on what my company charges for those things. If you have a difference of opinion, for example on how it is possible that I made 5000 copies over the course of this evaluation, feel free to get in touch in with me and we can discuss.

Cork & Sea ConsultingPO Box 1017

Tillamook, OR 97141

Fax –

Sabemi7@gmail.com

To [Name][Company Name]

[Street Address]

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[Phone]

Customer ID [ABC12345]

Salesperson Job Payment Terms Due Date
Due on receipt 12/21/2012
Qty Description Unit Price Line Total
20 days Evaluator $250/ day $5000
20 days Fringe $100/ day $2000
Contractual
5000 copies Duplication $.05/ copy $250
100 miles Travel $.15/ mile $15
Subtotal $7265
Sales Tax $0
Total $7265
Quotation prepared by: Sarah Miller_______________________________________________This is a quotation on the goods named, subject to the conditions noted below: (Describe any conditions pertaining to these prices and any additional terms of the agreement. You may want to include contingencies that will affect the quotation.)

To accept this quotation, sign here and return:

Appendix

Personal Data Collection Tool:

External Data Collection Tool:

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ET505 – W1, D1

Hello!  I live in Tillamook, OR where I work part-time as an enrollment services specialist at the local community college.  I have always enjoyed working with students, so it is a good place for me to be, while I look for a distance learning position and work on my degree.  I also do a little work at the local hospital as a data analyst.  In that job, I don’t have to talk with anyone, most of the time, and I really enjoy that as well.

 I have been doing this part-time work for about a year and a half.  Prior to that, I worked in Coos Bay, Oregon for a total of 3.5 years (including 1 year as an adjunct distance faculty member) as all of the following: adjunct distance faculty (math), math tutor, instructional designer, distance learning support, math technology lab coordinator, and sidekick.

This is my 4th term in the MET program at Boise State.  I found the program through a search in Google for education and technology: the 2 things I knew I wanted to make into a career.  I actually didn’t start with Boise State, though – I took my first edtech classes online through San Diego State.  It’s a good program, but it just wasn’t right for me.

’ve been taking classes online since 2007.  My first experience was bad: I took Introduction to Accounting online through Portland Community College.  I don’t remember why I thought that was going to be a good idea, but it really wasn’t.  It happened that the final fell in the same week that I lost a job as a special education assistant (4+ months), and so I also wound up moving that week.

Despite a sour beginning, I continued to take online classes through Portland Community College.  I almost completed a year-long certificate in web design and even took my first “edtech” class – Using Technology in the Classroom.  I didn’t stop taking classes through Portland Community College until Fall of 2011, when I officially started up the MET program.

While I sometimes feel like I’m bumbling a little due to my lack of classroom teaching experience, I am enjoying my online classes through Boise State.  It has been a really positive experience for me.

My experience with evaluation in terms of my professional ventures is pretty minimal.  At one point, I worked as a math technology lab coordinator and was asked to present a couple pieces of math software to the faculty for use in their online classes.  I remember scouring the internet for “software evaluation” and using rubrics that I found.”  I know it’s an invaluable skill and I am eager to learn more.

 In my free time, I walk my dog.  She’s half brittany and half border collie and she has a ridiculous amount of energy – we call her the Georgia Spaniel.  I also have a cat that is fluffy and quiet and the total opposite of the Georgia Spaniel.