Finding a Job in Education

You've done it. You've gotten your education degree, you've settled on a specialty or decided to work as a generalist for a while to try a few different things, and you're ready for that all- important teaching job. Of course, you've checked out the requirements for state certification and you've done a lot of preparation for that testing as well. You may have already taken those exams, or you may intend to work in a state that gives the exams only to new hires as a final step.

While it feels like you've done every single thing required, sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring isn't going to land you the teaching job of your dreams or, for that matter, any job at all. Regardless of whether teachers are in high demand, or if the economy has made finding a teaching job more difficult, you've got to cover all your bases. Here are some tips to get you started.

First of all, you'll need to make sure your resume is in tip- top shape. Don't assume that the way you learned to do a resume in high school, or, if you are a mid- career transfer, the way resumes were done in your earlier years, is set in stone. The fact is, preferred resume styles change regularly. Do a little online research or pick up a book about preferred resume styles for educators. If you feel insecure about your ability to knock out a truly eye- catching resume, you may want to consult with a company or individual who creates resumes for a living. If you do your own, however, here are a few pointers. First of all, make a number of drafts as you fine- tune your writing. Remember that less is always more. No interviewer will be impressed by a three- page resume, unless every item on it is essential and written tightly. It's fine to create a resume that is a page or a little more. Be absolutely certain that every single word is spelled correctly, that punctuation is used properly, and that the layout you select is consistent. Nothing spells trouble faster than a resume that changes type face or size in the middle of the page, or one that suddenly begins using bold typeface for certain words.

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Do include extracurricular activities that are relevant to teaching. If you worked as a camp counselor, volunteered at a local children's hospital, have won a prize or two for storytelling or children's stories you've written, run a neighborhood summer arts and crafts camp, or done other activities that have made you a better teacher, be sure they appear on your list of qualifications.

Here's a big don't! Do not include irrelevant information that tells the reader something about your personality or social life. Spending your spare time as a tattoo artist, hair dresser, or world- class poker player will mark you as someone who isn't fully committed to teaching. Also, forget cuteness. Use a standard serif font in a size 12, such as Georgia or Times Roman. Do not use bold or italics, and whatever you do, don't ‘illustrate' your resume with smiley faces or pictures of flowers. Keep it professional, and be sure to include contact information.

Drop off the resume at those schools you'd most like to teach and be sure to introduce yourself with a big smile. Don't drop by first thing in the morning when buses are arriving, or late in the day prior to dismissal; doing so marks you as a novice. While you might be tempted to add a ‘bribe', such as a posy of fresh flowers or a fancy pencil, don't. Mention any specialties you have, or exceptional experiences—but only if the individual with whom you leave your resume asks you questions.

Be sure you've completed all required application materials on the district's website. A building cannot consider a teacher who hasn't gone through this all- important step. In most cases, the website application will require one or more letters of reference. The best sources are your teachers, who can address your particular talents from first- hand experience. Besides, these professionals understand how to write a letter of reference that will be read and understood. Asking your best friend or Aunt Daisy to vouch for your character marks you as inexperienced.

Do visit as many educational job fairs as possible. Carry at least a dozen resumes printed on high quality paper. If you have relevant supplemental materials, such as a newspaper article about a project you did with children, include that as well. A very brief cover letter highlighting your strengths is also acceptable, but do keep it to less than half a page.

One area job- hunters fail at is the interview. They assume that if they've been called for an interview, the job is in the bag. In fact, you might have been a strong candidate going in, and a losing prospect coming out. Read as much as you can find about how to interview well. As with resumes, the interview process goes through different stylistic cycles. Practice with a friend or co- worker. Anticipate questions you are sure to be asked, and prepare an answer you've memorized inside and out. But here's the trick: you'll need to deliver that answer as though it is coming to you for the first time, in a natural tone of voice. Remember that pauses are as important as words. Keep your voice at a pleasant pitch, don't speak too quickly (or too slowly), and whatever you do, don't interrupt the interviewer!

Going after a job is, itself, a job. Preparation and anticipation are key; know what to expect, and know how to deliver it!

Last Updated: 09/18/2014