Extra cheese: if you can't live just anywhere

The academic job market asks for hyper-mobile candidates. The government also wants you where it wants you. What about your other responsibilities?

Hi, everyone! Today, I’ll briefly talk about how to use USAJOBS if you aren’t in the typical academic job candidate position. What do I mean by this?

Well, if you apply to a university posting, no one cares if you’re in the area. They expect you to move and, if it’s a TT job, spend the next 30 years of your life there. This is kind of good for applying to a lot jobs on USAJOBS, right? If you’re just out of grad school, you can pack up your life and move to Fargo pretty easily!

Unless you can’t. You might have someone who loves you (good for you) and needs to stay put. You might have shared custody, or no custody - just visits, meaning sticking around is even more important. You might have caregiving responsibilities for younger siblings or elderly parents. You might have health conditions yourself, and need to be in an area with specialists, robust choices for therapists, or support groups. You might be single and worried about moving to a small town 90 minutes from an airport where everyone gets married the summer they graduate college. Is there a Muslim community nearby or will you be the only one? What if your family is mobile but still needs to be someplace your children can go to Chinese school or Hebrew school?

Many jobs are in D.C., which is good news if you have cultural or medical requirements. But your life may still not be very mobile: maybe you don’t want to move your parents and your kids to Northern Virginia. (No offense to Fairfax County.)

So, here are some features which might come in handy. Are they as good as they should be? No. But they’re what we’ve got.

First, you can set up your profile so it factors in your location. You can also include places you’re willing to work in your profile. To do this, open your profile and select the “Preferences” tab. The first thing you’ll find are travel and location preferences:

Here, I’ve specified D.C., Philly, and Guam as places I’m willing to work. Remember to save your preferences.

Now, when I perform a search on USAJOBS while logged in, I’ll get results tailored to location filters and other filters like work schedule. I can toggle these filters on and off using the menu on the right side of the screen (see the green toggle bar in the next image). In the unlikely event an HR person searches up your profile (if you’ve made it searchable) they will see these preferences.

There’s no way to make your preferences only find jobs for “the public,” as far as I can tell (I’ve been looking for a while) and YES this seems nuts (I think I must be wrong, but can’t figure out why - let me know if you have!). But, you can come at that issue another way, through Saved Searches.

Let’s say you’re interested in finding positions with a humanities focus in Rhode Island, which are open to the public. You can create a saved search and get notified whenever a posting in Rhode Island mentions “humanities” and is open to the public:

I don’t know why you would create this search only to ask they never e-mail you results. The searches do get saved to your USAJOBS profile, so maybe it’s for people who want to go there and search for themselves.

A few things about these saved searches.

First, you should select “daily.” If there aren’t any postings for that day, you just won’t get an e-mail about it. But if there are no postings for a week, you will get an e-mail saying “there weren’t any posts this week.” So, you might actually save yourself time if you get the daily e-mails. Saved search e-mails also only contain the first ten results, so if your search is something like “communications analyst” in a popular area, you’ll get results for all analyst posting in that area (I know that sounds wrong, and I have tried to make it not the case, but I am just not in charge). Finally, because the windows on these applications are pretty small, daily e-mails give you more time to prepare applications for positions to which you are suited.

Second, you can create a radius for a city but not a state. So, if you did want to create this search for RI, you might want to set the search to Newport and then select a radius of 75 miles so you’d get at least some jobs in Massachusetts and Connecticut. You’ll find this option on the “more filters” tab:

Third, about that “communications analyst” position. The one people on this list want is, almost certainly, the CA positions with the Government Accountability Office. Well, you can specify positions within agencies and departments in your searches, too - that option is also on the right-hand side. Since every damn posting is an analyst or a specialist, ticking the department/agency box can help you avoid too many false positives. That’s going to save you time, but it will also help you get around the 10-listing e-mail limit. You may want to combine an agency and a location filter, as some agencies have more than one location (GAO has teams in Atlanta, for example).

I know you might think you can avoid this problem by putting quotation marks around a search term, but you cannot. Sorry!

Okay, I hope that helped highlight some tools for using USAJOBS on your own.

See you on Friday!