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Looking for new teaching jobs can be a huge undertaking. To make it a little easier, we’ve put together our favorite tips to help you find open positions, assemble a stellar portfolio, ace your interviews—and ultimately land your dream teaching job!
1. Toot your social horns.
If you’re searching for your first teaching job, this is not the time to be shy. All the connections in the world won’t help you land a job if they don’t know you’re looking. Everyone from your college classmates and professors to the teachers and administrators you met while student teaching can all prove to be great resources on job openings. Even Facebook and your social networks can be sources for teaching jobs. You never know … your aunt’s neighbor just might have an “in” for that open position in her district! Of course, if you’re looking for a new position while currently teaching, you’ll need to be more discreet. E-mails and phone calls to the connections you trust are your best bet.
What teachers say: “Take a long, hard look at who you know. Potential employers are more likely to trust you if one of your references is someone they already know and trust.” —Leanne K.
2. Cut through the clutter with your professional profile.
Schools often receive hundreds of applications to fill just one open position, which means they may only give each résumé a quick glance before deciding whether to toss it in the trash or take a closer look. That’s why you need to be sure your “professional profile”—the first one or two lines in your résumé—makes you stand out in a sea of job seekers. Instead of writing a “job objective” that simply states that you’re seeking an elementary school teaching position, try making your professional profile more descriptive by highlighting your certifications, strengths and accomplishments—like that your students scored above average in reading on the state exams.
What teachers say: “I include my greatest strengths up front—whether it’s attending RTI committee meetings, developing differentiated curriculum or collaborating across grade levels.”—Madeline A.
3. Put together a rock-star portfolio.
A great portfolio is much more than a three-ring binder packed with samples of all the work you did during your student-teaching semester—it’s both a reflection of who you are as a teacher and a gauge for how well you fulfill the needs of a particular job. With this in mind, you should build a general portfolio over time, and for each application, tailor it to meet the specific qualifications listed in the job description. Your interview portfolio should only include six to eight items you handpick for each job interview. So, if you’re applying for a co-teaching job, you may want to highlight a lesson where you collaborated with another teacher. Or if you’re applying for a position as an ELA teacher, you may want to show samples of a really cool book-report project your students completed.
What teachers say: “I make copies of my portfolio for each interviewer and leave it with them. I include multiple examples of lesson plans and student work. I’ve gotten an offer every time I’ve done it that way.” —Mandy M.
4. Don’t skip the job fair.
Education job fairs aren’t just for undergrads, and they can indeed help you land teaching jobs. Districts and schools wouldn’t waste their time being there unless they had active openings to fill. Fairs also let you check out districts you might not otherwise have considered. Plus, you have a chance to make personal connections with the administrators manning the tables, which helps you make a stronger impression than through an online application.
What teachers say: “To stand out at a job fair, look nice, neat, and together, and smile! Your first impression is important. Anticipate questions and rehearse your answers so you can speak confidently. Being articulate is just as important as having great credentials.” —Dr. Carol Rosevear, former superintendent, New Jersey
Check out our WeAreTeachers expert tips on teacher job fairs for more options.
5. Sub in the school or district you love!
We know subbing can be a tough gig, but regular substitutes are often a school or district’s first choices for new hires. And in a tough job market, subbing can be a way to pay the bills while giving your résumé a boost. Not only does subbing give you experience in the classroom, it also gives you an opportunity to network with administrators and fellow teachers. Administrators like hiring subs because they’ve had a chance to preview your teaching skills. And there is always the chance that consistent subbing can lead to a long-term or permanent position.
What teachers say: “Ask yourself ‘What can I do for the school besides teach?’ Any extras like coaching, directing, leading and performing can make you stand out from the crowd.” —Jessica L.
6. Up your ante through PD.
Believe it or not, you’re not always at the mercy of the teaching jobs market. You can increase your value as a teaching candidate by ramping up your education. Since it can be downright challenging to find time for professional development, you may want to consider online courses. If you’re hesitant about taking a virtual class, check out these myth busters for online PD. You can also start your advanced degree through NEA Member Benefits’ online degree programs. Being engaged in furthering your education not only makes you attractive to employers but also puts you on the road toward a higher salary in the future.
What teachers say: “If you’re planning on teaching for the long haul, look into pursuing National Board Certification. My state reimbursed my charges, and I receive a nice salary supplement each month for the duration of the certification!” —Emily P.
7. Make a move.
If you’re having a tough time finding a job and you’re up for adventure, consider a move. Some parts of the country with teacher shortages are aggressively recruiting qualified teachers. Districts and cities with teaching vacancies may even cover some of the costs of your move with relocation assistance. The U.S. Department of Education issued a report, “Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listing,” that lets you see geographic- and subject-area shortages for every state. Very handy.
What teachers say: “I couldn’t get hired in California after college. I applied to at least 10 districts. I was super-frustrated. When I finally did get hired, it was to come back and teach in Hawaii, where I am from.”—Farrah K.
8. Prep for your interview.
The best interviews are those in which you come across relaxed and confident—a principal or hiring committee may wonder how you’ll handle yourself in the classroom if you’re over-the-top nervous. But preparing for a successful teaching jobs interview takes more than Googling the top interview questions, because these days, questions are a lot more complicated than “Tell me about yourself” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?” In order to feel calm and collected, you need to do the prep work. Educate yourself on the school where you are interviewing, familiarizing yourself with the school’s test scores, special programs and percentage of students receiving free and reduced meals. You should also prepare to talk about your own strengths and knowledge of differentiated instruction, lesson planning, technology in the classroom, classroom management and parent communication.
What teachers say: “I loved having my portfolio with me. I took it upon myself and brought it out to supplement the answers I gave to different questions.” —Erin M.
What are YOUR top tips for finding new teaching jobs? Share with us below!