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It’s April: Where is Your Job Search?

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The end of the semester is drawing near. Student teachers are completing their final assignments, and some students (primarily special education, bilingual, math and science) have already signed contracts. If you are one of the many who do not yet have a job, use April and May wisely to ensure that you will be teaching in the fall.

What should you be doing in April and May? Here are a few recommendations (many of which are based on material from AAEE’s Job Search Handbook for Educators) that we make to our students:

• Ask your principal to conduct a practice interview with you and give you honest feedback after the interview. This will give you great interviewing practice; it will also help you to understand what qualities principals look for in candidates.
• Since you can never have too much interviewing practice, contact your Career Services Office for another practice interview. It’s good to have multiple perspectives on your interviewing strengths and areas for improvement.
• Revise your resume to reflect new student teaching accomplishments. A resume is always a work in progress – it should be updated as you add new duties and achievements.
• Continue to monitor vacancies and apply for any that interest you. Vacancies may only be listed for a short time, so act quickly!
• Inform your Career Services Office that you are still searching for a job. Counselors may have suggestions for what you can do to maximize your job search potential.
• Attend remaining job fairs. Many career centers have copies of AAEE’s 2008 Job Hunter’s Guide that lists career fairs throughout the nation by months in which they occur. Your Career Services Office should also have notices of recently added or last-minute fairs.
• After you have had an interview, follow up with a well-written thank-you letter. You may want to have a career counselor review it before you mail it. It’s also important to follow up with employers whom you’ve met at job fairs to let them know that you are still interested in working in their districts.
• Keep in touch with administrators in districts where you have already applied. Phone calls, emails and personal visits to the school are the most effective ways of maintaining contact. Check on the status of the position and of your application. Don’t make a pest of yourself, though!
• Take advantage of any opportunity to visit schools that interest you. Attend events sponsored by the schools, such as spring concerts, fun fairs, district open houses, or even school board meetings.
• Vary your search methods. Don’t rely on just one method of looking. Use district websites, state websites, college/university job databases, independent websites for teaching jobs (Education Week’s TopSchoolJobs.org, for example), friends/neighbors/family with school district connections and even local newspapers.
• If possible, increase the parameters of your job search. When I was looking for my first teaching job I sought out every high school within an hour’s drive from my home. My thought was that I’d rather be commuting to teach than riding my bike to waitress.

Finally, don’t lose heart if you don’t yet have a job. Most first-year teachers are hired during the summer – June, July and well into August. I was hired in the second week of September for a position that arose when the school realized that it needed a teacher to diminish staff overload. Lots of things happen during the summer: budgets are determined, students enroll, and current staff members decide to take other positions. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Talking with people who tell you that you’ll never get hired will undermine your confidence and your ability to interview effectively. Have faith in what you can do, and don’t give up.

--Dr. Dawn Jones,
Online Education & Health Advisor,
Northern Illinois University, on behalf of AAEE

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