Post Academic


Interpersonal skills #1: Keeping up with your friends

We’re launching a mini-series here about the interpersonal skills you need to navigate the academic job market.  You might almost be through the initial stages which only require you to know enough about which formalities to include in a cover letter or introduction email.  But soon, you’ll probably have to interact with real, live people about what’s happening with your job search, from friends, family, and mentors on your side to search committees and administrators on the other end.  And sometimes, it might actually be harder and demand more diplomacy from you to talk to those folks who are cheering you on than it is with complete strangers with your future in their hands.

We’ll start with your friends, though I’m not exactly one to speak here, because I don’t think I’ve talked to or corresponded with any of my grad school peeps in months–if any of those folks are reading this, I’m not slighting you, but I’ve pretty much stopped using my cellphone to talk to anyone but family these days.  When I’m not AWOL, my friends are the ones who are not only my support system to get me through the ups-and-downs of the job application process, but also a source of good gossip and scoop, especially when we’re applying for the same jobs.  And I do my best to return the favor too.

The thing is, what’s a boon can also lead to some prickly situations.  And let me tell you, the job market requires interpersonal skills even with the people you know best, since I’ve definitely had a few friend flare-ups, though no friend break-ups as far as I know.  Below are a few aspects of relationships that develop or change with the whims of the job market:

Unconditional Support: While I’ve always considered myself a good friend and someone that people can rely on, I have to admit that I get peeved when I don’t feel that the give-and-take is mutual.  But in a lot of cases, I probably owe more than I’ve given, though my friends probably aren’t the kind of keep score like I sometimes do.  Pretty much everyone I’ve been close to has stuck with me through thin and thinner, and given me feedback that doesn’t hold back, but they can deliver constructive criticism in way that builds me up and gets me to work harder rather than bum me out.  Whether or not what they tell you actually means anything to anyone else is up in the air, but it doesn’t matter much when you need a pick-me-up.

More types of more complicated relationships after the jump…

(more…)