Organizations and institutions are still hiring

For many of us right now the thought of what’s next (for us, our students, our organizations, our members, our staff)  has caused a great deal of angst, in some a sense of numbness, and others the sense of holding and waiting to see.

But for many, operations are moving forward albeit at a different pace and in a different manner. In the last few weeks we have seen institutions and organizations posting their current or upcoming open positions.

What does this mean for you, a potential candidate? It means you should apply if you are interested in a new leadership opportunity. To get ready for the new normal, here are some ideas to assist you in preparing for a job search.

  1. Review and update your resume. This is critical and should include your accomplishments not just your responsibilities. (visit
  2. Really consider why you are interested in a particular position and develop talking points about what excites you with regard to the role, the organization, and the community.
  3. Write a compelling cover letter (visit that articulates the value you will bring to the institution or organization and to the role.
  4. Take a personal inventory of your strengths and areas in your professional toolkit that need improvement. If you are unsure as to what professional areas you need to work on ask several close colleagues who you believe will be honest with you. Be brave and be prepared to hear the good and the not so good feedback.
  5. Get your home office ready for a video interview. For the foreseeable future this is how organizations are going to make their first cut of candidates after reading your resume and cover letter. What will the camera see? What is behind your head? It doesn’t have to be a plain wall, but it does have to be neat, without any major distractions.
  6. Practice with a friend. Most video software programs are free so reach out to a best friend or family member and practice a video interview. Where is the optimal lighting, camera angle, and backdrop? While you may be an expert using FaceTime, Zoom can be a bit more challenging when you need to share your presentation or PowerPoint so practice and test all of this ahead of your interview.
  7. Be prepared for a longer search process than what we have to date seen. Many of our clients are extending the time frames for submitting credentials and/or scheduling the first round of interviews. While institutions and organizations still prefer to have final candidates on site, for the time being this is not an option. So organizations may continue to draw out the process or may ask for another round of video interviews—be prepared for either outcome. Also, think carefully about what information you need to make a decision about accepting the offer if you will not be able to meet your new boss or colleagues in person.
  8. Don’t be overly anxious or worried. This, for now, is our new normal. Remember grit and resilience is important and we need to model that for our colleagues, staff, and stakeholders.


Ellen Heffernan

President - Spelman Johnson

Ellen Heffernan graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in economics and government. She joined Spelman Johnson in 1996, after a ten-year career in higher education that included positions at Smith College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is also a national speaker and writer on topics related to recruiting and professional development in higher education and serves as faculty for several national higher education association professional development programs. Ellen also currently serves on the executive board of the National Association of Executive Recruiters.