Searching for a job can be stressful and time-consuming. When I graduated college in winter of 2014, my plan was to substitute teach for the remainder of the school year in a few schools I was interested in teaching in. I happened to find a paraprofessional job at the end of February and worked as a parapro in a first grade classroom for the rest of the school year. In the summer I taught summer school at the same school district. I would love to say that helped me find a teaching job right away, but it didn’t. What it did do was give me experiences in different grade levels that helped me figure out what grade I wanted to teach, and were experiences that looked good on a resume. When I graduated, there were hundreds of applicants for each teaching job that was posted in my area. Thankfully things have relaxed since then, but it took me a few years to get into a school district I could see myself in for the long-haul. These are the tips I have learned through my experience looking for a teaching job over the years.
1. Look for jobs daily
Take a few minutes each day to check on the new job listings. In my experience, when a school knows that a teacher is leaving or retiring, they start posting the jobs as early as spring. Apply to the job early. Just because a posting is set to close at a certain date doesn’t mean that principals aren’t looking at applications and setting up interviews prior to then.
2. Go to job fairs
This is a great way to meet many people at once and there is a good chance that there will be principals and others that make hiring decisions there. Be sure to bring multiple copies of your resume that you can pass out to individuals you meet.
3. Perfect your resume
Often times your resume is the first introduction a principal has to you. Think about what sets you apart from another candidate and make sure to include it. The first grade classroom I was a paraprofessional for, was the pilot class for the district for Chromebooks for each student. I made sure to include this on my resume and the experience I had using 1:1 technology. What experiences do you have that set you apart? It is a wise decision to have someone proof read your resume also.
4. Design a portfolio
A portfolio is nice to have during interviews to show examples that support what you are telling the interviewer. Think about evidence you have for the answers you provide. Did you create an amazing lesson you want to share? What kind of data documents have you used? If you would like to check out what I included in my portfolio, click here.
5. Prepare yourself for your interview
Have an idea of how you would answer some of the common questions that are asked during teaching interviews. Think about your classroom management style, how you plan to communicate with parents, how you will build a community of learners etc. Make sure you also learn about the school/district you will be interview at. Many schools have a mission statement posted on their website that will give you insight to their values and vision.
6. Have questions ready to ask at the end of your interview
Asking questions shows that you are interested in the position. Keep in mind, you are also interviewing them and want to make sure the school is a good fit for you. You may want to ask:
- Is there a mentor program for new teachers?
- What curriculum is used?
- What kind of professional development is offered?
7. Dress to impress
You should look professional and well polished. A suit is always a good choice, but you could also opt for a professional dress or dress pants and a blouse with a blazer. It is a good idea to think about what you will wear to a job interview beforehand so you aren’t scrambling last minute.
8. Send a thank-you note within 24 hours of an interview
Don’t forget to send a thank-you note to the interviewer (and everyone in the interview) while the interview is still fresh in your (and their) mind. This allows you to reiterate the points that you made in your interview and is just one more way for you to set yourself apart from other candidates. I always sent a thank you email, but you could also send a handwritten (or typed) letter.
9. Substitute Teach
If you recently graduated college, I recommend substitute teaching. Not only does it provide you with connections within schools, but it also is a great learning experience. You have the opportunity to see a wide magnitude of teaching and classroom management styles and how other teachers schedule their day. It also allows you to familiarize yourself with many different grade levels which is nice if you aren’t quite sure what grade level you want to teach. It looks great on a resume too! (especially if you are applying within those schools)
10. Don’t be afraid to take a job that isn’t quite your “dream job”
Whether it is not your dream district or grade level, everyone has to start somewhere. I graduated school at a time when jobs were very competitive with hundreds of applicants for each job posting. The summer after I graduated I ended up accepting a position for preschool. While I knew that wasn’t the age I wanted to teach forever, it was a great learning experience and provided me with experience that helped me get my current job.
Thank you for reading! Good luck with your job search.