Classes may be over and my diploma is probably in the mail, but I still have a lot to learn. The job search process for education majors can be frustrating. The well-intentioned “what are your plans now?” questions strike a nerve as we realize that for the first time in our life, we really don’t know. But even in the midst of discouragement and uncertainty, it’s important to keep moving forward with what we know we should be doing. Here are a few things I’ve been learning in the job search process:
- With applications almost entirely online, the process is quite impersonal. So, if possible, do something to set yourself apart, like hand deliver your resume and cover letter to a district office and/or school you are interested in (even if an opening isn’t posted). Maybe you’ll meet someone important!
- Follow up calls- make them. There’s really nothing to lose. If there is an opening posted, I’d say call every 2 weeks or so to follow up. You can just say that you wanted to make sure they have all the information they need from you at this time and ask when you may hear about the next steps in the employment process. Sometimes a school may really forget to call you… you never know.
- When scheduling an interview, ask how long interviews typically run. This gives you an idea of the depth of the questions they may ask.
- Research the district, and especially the school, before you interview. What accomplishments and programs set this school apart and make you want to work there?
- More than once I’ve been asked (with some skepticism) how the use of smart boards is different from a white board or overhead. Be prepared to give example of an activity/lesson that requires the use of a smart board and could not be done without it (ideally something you have already done, not something you plan to do).
- Emphasize unique experiences that you have had and what you have learned (especially anything related to tutoring or working with kids- even if it didn’t seem like a big time commitment to you).
- Don’t bother making an elaborate portfolio. From my experience, you don’t need an exhaustive portfolio. I made a simple mini-portfolio with 5 documents and a table of contents. It was small enough that they at least flipped through it.
- Asking good questions gives you a chance to find out what it would be like to work at that school. What things are most important to you for your first teaching job? Write a few questions with that in mind.
- Ask interviewers what they like most about working at that school/district. I have found this to be a great way to hear about what they consider the school and district’s strengths.
More than anything, I have found great comfort in Proverbs 21:30-31, so I will close with those verses:
“There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.”