By Rabbi Maccabee Avishur
I proudly admit that I lurk regularly on several job boards that are related to Education, my field. But I’m not looking for a new job. So why in the world am I spending any time scrolling through job titles and job descriptions?
There are two types of people who should be regularly checking job boards: those who are looking for jobs and those who aren’t. For those of you actively looking for new opportunities, it’s obvious why you should be actively checking out postings on job boards specific to your industry, like JEDJobs.com for careers in Jewish education, as well as networking with your connections.
For those of you who aren’t looking for jobs, here are some compelling reasons why you should be lurking. [Education is my world, so I’ll speak in terms of schools, but I suspect much of this would apply to other industries too.]
- Field Knowledge: First, lurking on job boards like JEDJobs will give you a field-wide perspective on Jewish schools in North America and beyond. Is there a Jewish school and community in Jacksonville, Florida? What about Birmingham, Alabama? If you lurk, you’ll know. Also, knowing the “churn” of the field gives a unique perspective that can help you figure out what schools are doing and what’s happening in education.
- What’s Trending: Are ed-tech skills hot? What about Ivrit b’Ivrit? Lurking will help you know what schools are looking for and inform your decisions about your own professional learning. Knowing the needs of the field positions you to meet those needs and to be a thought leader among your peers.
- Be a Resource: Although you might not be looking for a job, I’m sure you’ve had a friend reach out to you to see if you knew of any opportunities (most likely in your school). You may not know of any openings in your school, but if you’ve been lurking, you’ll know of opportunities that might be a good fit for your friend.
- Be a Connector: On a higher level, if you see a job that you think might be a good fit for a colleague or friend, you’ll be highly valued as a connector for putting the employer and the candidate together before your friend even asks.
- Learn from the Competition: First, you can see how other schools are seeking to fill positions. Some are sophisticated, others more basic. Learn from the best by looking at the language they use, the types of positions they’re seeking to fill, and the tasks they hope their staff will engage in. Also, if they’re creating positions to meet strategic goals, you can glean some of those goals from their postings and adapt them if they’re appropriate for your school.
- Company Culture: Job descriptions can, in some cases, tell you a lot about school culture. If the job description has a warm, fuzzy feel, the school may be that way too. If the job description is terse and overly legalistic, there’s a chance that’s the school culture as well.
- What’s Possible: It could be that there are positions and job descriptions out there that you never thought of or didn’t think applied to people like you. Lurking on a job board allows you to see what’s possible for you in the field. It may be that a position you see online inspires you to speak with your supervisor about creating a similar position in your school or taking on that role yourself. You’ll learn about options.
- Marketability: By learning what schools are looking for, you’ll gain an understanding of how marketable you are. You’ll be able to assess whether your skills and talents are in demand. You’ll potentially have a better understanding (albeit limited because of the current lack of transparency in compensation) how much your skills may be worth.
- Broaden Your Palette: By seeing different jobs and learning about what people do in those positions, you’ll expand your understanding of roles you could play in the future. Right now, you might have a limited portfolio that you’re quite happy with. However, seeing other things that excite you might broaden your professional appetite.
- Defining “Reasonable”: Seeing a broad array of job descriptions can help you define what you mean when you speak of “reasonable” job expectations. Some schools demand the sun, moon, and stars from their staff, others much less. When you look at a job and say to yourself, “Wow! That’s just too much for one person!” you’ve begun to actively define your parameters for reasonable job expectations. That’s helpful in your current role, too.
- Opportunities for Extra Work: If you’re in a role in a school now, it’s highly likely that you’ve developed some expertise that could be useful to others. By lurking on job boards, you may come across opportunities for consulting work that would be perfect matches for your expertise and a chance to expand your reach as an educator and earn more cash. Make sure to check with your supervisor before pursuing a “moonlighting” opportunity.
- Your Dream Job: Although you’re happy where you are, it’s possible that one day someone will post your dream job on JEDJobs. Be alive to a special opportunity when that opportunity arises.
- You Never Know: There is nothing quite like the feeling of job security – knowing you’re doing well in your current role and having a good sense that you’ll remain with your current employer for the foreseeable future. But you never know what option might present itself or what situations may arise. It’s good to have a real-time sense of what’s out there so that you can be prepared to take the next step if necessary.
- Happiness Check: In the end, seeing all the other opportunities out there can serve to remind you how happy you are in your current role. Seeing what others do in their jobs can be a nice reality check that helps you reflect on what you like about your current position and current school. And if, on the other hand, the lurking helps you realize that you’re actually not happy where you are, that’s a helpful realization too. At least you’ll already be in the right place to do something about it.
Ultimately, lurking on a job board is just good practice. Sign up for a free account on JEDJobs.com and start lurking today.
[JEDJobs.com is a service of the YU Institute for University-School Partnership.]
Rabbi Maccabee Avishur is the Associate Director for Teaching and Learning at Yeshiva University’s Institute for University-School Partnership where he serves as an educational and leadership consultant to schools in the US and abroad and oversees the YUSP’s teacher recruitment and placement portfolio. Prior to joining the YUSP, Maccabee served as both a teacher and senior school leader in California, Texas, and Michigan. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @RabbiMacc.
cross-posted at yuschoolpartnership.org