Tips for New Teachers Securing a Teaching Position

by Nicholas Harrington and Richard E. Lange June 2009

Finding a teaching position for teachers who have just completed their student teaching practicum or are interested with seeking a new school district may find it more daunting than ever. With many more platforms of different kinds of communication modalities available, one needs to be skilled at using all of these various tools when securing a teaching position. The purpose of this article is to offer some timely tips on how to sort through and use many the various forms of communication to get yourself known and visible. Before you throw out the paper resume and believe you can go 100% electronic, take a few moments to read over our tips. Check back often to this link as we periodically will be adding more ideas.

E-Mail Netiquette - Avoiding Trouble Online

Email has helped our society connect in ways that we couldn’t have imagined just ten years ago. The ability to write a letter and send it immediately has changed the way we communicate. With this new conveyance of information, we must remember that there are several factors that one must be aware of. For example, tone of voice and facial expressions cannot be detected. A person must be judicious in how they express their feelings and words – written words are taken very literally. In addition, it is important to keep in mind the traditional conventions of writing a letter. Be sure to include a proper salutation (e.g., Dear Mr. Walker) and closure (e.g., Regards,). Avoid using “texting language” such as LOL, BTW, OMG, and so on.

Social Networking Tools

The evolution of My Space, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking websites has brought a new way to network. Unfortunately, many people take for granted its power! Photos, status updates, and discussions can be fun to share with friends and coworkers. They can also be detrimental to one’s image and reputation. Choose your online friends carefully, monitor your “profile” so that you don’t share any incriminating information, and be a good online citizen. And while you’re at it, try Googling your name. What did you find?

Market your skills and hobbies

Employers are always looking for what makes an employee stand out from the rest. If you have special skills, interests, and hobbies, be sure to address them in a cover letter. If possible, be ready to provide examples of your unique ability through sample work or demonstrations. Your distinctive talent may be the key to landing an interview and ultimately a career. Leadership skills are highly desirable – be sure to include examples of your work.

The Forever Interview

So, you think you have an interview coming up. Guess again! The fact is you will always be on an interview. As you meet new people and talk to old friends about your career, your professional values and morals will be constantly evaluated. You are out in the public eye – understand that there are people always watching. If your goal is to become a professional educator, you must act as such.

Professional Associations

One of the best ways to add more substance to your resume is to join at least two professional education associations. Just about every curriculum content discipline has a national and state-level association. There’s even a good chance a chapter that may hold meetings in your area. These professional organizations often have memberships for full time students that may be as low as $15 per year. Regular membership rates at the state level are often quite reasonable. Many school districts may even pay for your memberships.

Once you are a member, consider attending one of the many committee meetings that are the backbone of these groups. Don’t be afraid that you are over committing yourself. Many of these committees only meet a few times each year or may have a short term goal such as planning for a onetime event. It’s a great way to network and even get leads on possible teaching positions. Professional organizations are typically looking for input from new members and you may have more to offer than you realize.

Finding a reputable organization is quite easy. First, search through the group's national website home page where you can find state and local chapter affiliates. Read the group's mission statement and consider joining. Many have excellent monthly journals and newsletters that offer lots of practical teaching tips. Some even post job openings.

Stay calm during the interview

Easier said than done, but try to remain cool and calm during the interview. While the interviewer does expect some nervousness, be sure to debrief past interviews and highlight the successful parts to add confidence for the next time around. One way to build confidence is to research the school district’s mission or vision statement. Read some past board of education reports to know what current trends are taking place. Bringing up this information can help one look impressive during the interview. It shows great care was taken to investigate the school district. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions, such as, does the school district have a formal new teacher mentoring program to help you get started.

The Perfect Résumé

Résumés fall into two categories: chronological, work experience is listed in reverse date order and functional, work experience is organized into skill clusters with no dates. Both have advantages and disadvantages depending on how much experience you’ve had. No matter which one is selected, always include a cover letter explaining the reason for submitting the resume. It serves as an introduction, highlights specific qualifications and objectives you have for the job. Although formats can vary wildly, it would be best to look over several samples on line as well as check out résumé dos and don’ts. They may be more than one page but no more than two and appear only on one side of the paper.