4 Ways to Apply Assessment Principles to the Job Search

Searching for a new job is not easy.

It is a time-consuming process. Whether you’re applying for a position where you have experience or you’re considering a role in a new field, submitting applications, providing work samples, and participating in interviews is an exercise in vulnerability.

Given salary and potential relocation implications, the process can be nerve-wracking. And none of that takes into consideration any extenuating circumstances around the urgency of your situation which may complicate the process.

In a situation greater than you, it can help alleviate unnecessary stress when you do what you can for the elements within your control.

While there are general tips and tricks available regarding the process, I can’t help but think of how assessment principles can support the job search process.

Having been on the candidate side of the table within the past year — and on the interviewer side currently — I see how certain elements of assessment can be applied to searching for, applying to, interviewing for, and negotiating for positions.


Just like a good assessment plan, your search should begin with articulation of what matters to you and what your goals are.

Just as you design with the end in mind, think about this position in relation to your career, not just the position unto itself. In going about your process, develop a plan and timeline for actions, keeping in mind your goals and aspirations.


Execute on your plan.

Adjust your approach as you experience any administrative issues or limitations. As when collecting data, monitor responses you receive (and don’t receive) from positions applied. Develop a calendar or checklist for follow up. If you’re submitting many applications around the same time, support yourself by adding reminder notes to your calendar or through a project management app


Make sure there is intentionality in your approach.

Analyze responses provided to you, while also asking the right questions to obtain data you need to know.

Make the process a reciprocal data exchange, telling the best story of yourself while trying to gather the information that you need. Be intentional in sharing — know your audience and the information they’re most interested in.

Before your interview, do deeper research on the company’s mission, values, and strategic plan. Asking thoughtful, well-researched questions lets your interviewers know that you can do your homework and that you care about the role. 


Demonstrate data-based decision making. Use institutional, industry, and geographical data to prepare to negotiate benefits and salary. Be prepared to reference or produce evidence for any claims or requests you have, and then be prepared to act once you have the information you need.

As you go along, don’t be afraid to conduct some formative assessment. The more organized you are in your approach, the easier it will be to self-reflect on progress or evaluate opportunities for improvement in your process. If you do not move forward in a process, ask why or what factors contributed to that decision. The worst an institution or employer can do at that point is not respond.

Like assessment, having a strong foundation is crucial. It helps prepare you for content to discuss and share in cover letters, resumes, and interviews. A solid foundation also applies to your knowledge of the institution or opportunity, which can make asking for or evaluating information easier.

Finally, prepare yourself for the unexpected.

Just as we can be disappointed or pleasantly surprised with assessment findings, the same can occur with our job search efforts. The interview you felt great in may not pan out. The institution that sounded great on paper turned out not to be the best organizational or cultural fit once you learned more. Alternatively, an amazing job opening may come along you did not anticipate. You may also build a professional connection who is able to provide you some authentic feedback related to the school or position you are applying.

Job searching can be tough, but don’t make it harder than it has to be.

Like assessment, there are ways you can set yourself up for success with planning, process, and preparation. You can also make the process work for you as much as it possibly can, affording you an opportunity to update your resume, leverage your professional network, and reflect on core strengths and areas for growth. Don’t forget: it’s ok to ask for support. There are plenty of resources and people available and willing to assist you in your process.

Joe Levy

About the author: Joe Levy (he/him) is the Executive Director of Assessment and Accreditation at National Louis University. Joe is passionate about data-informed decision making, accountability and promoting a student-centered approach inside and outside of the classroom. Learn how we can help get your students involved.