Marketing Yourself in a Competitive Environment
Think differently about getting the message of your candidacy to the individuals responsible for hiring. In today's competitive job market where there may be hundreds or even thousands of applicants for each position, and with the advent of online applications, it is increasingly difficult to catch the attention of principals and human resource professionals.
How can you rise above the crowd of applicants? How can you share a personal message about your candidacy?
Consider creating a multi-media personal statement that highlights your personal vision of teaching, experiences supporting your candidacy, accomplishments, and credentials. Both iMovie (Mac) or MovieMaker (Windows) are easy to use and free. Think of creating a "commercial" that highlights the qualities you want to emphasize. Answer the questions "Who am I?", "What are my core beliefs about teaching?" and "What are my unique qualifications that will meet the school's needs?"
When preparing your new marketing tool, consider the following:
Keep it short: 1 minute or less. Someone reviewing your credentials for the first time may only devote 15-30 seconds before they decide to move on to the next person or not. The purpose is to get someone's attention, stand out from the crowd, and generate enough curiosity for them to look at your application and supporting materials.
Focus on your message: You must spend time seriously reflecting upon the essential message you will communicate. Customize your message to the school and job. Devote the thought and time necessary to develop a great message about yourself and how you can further the school's mission. Do your research and seriously reflect upon your unique qualities.
Make it interesting: Good advertising is thought provoking, raises the viewer's level of awareness, uses interesting graphics, and music does make a difference. Be aware of copyright when using graphics and music. If you are using pictures of others make sure you have permission. Consider your audience when selecting your visuals and music. You may want to consult with your marketing and multi-media friends for ideas.
Develop a strategy to get your message to those who you want to see it: Make sure the final product is short and that file size is suitable for web posting and email. Make sure you use a universal file format that can be viewed easily by both Windows and Mac computers. You can post it to your web site or even attach it to an email. You can create a DVD that leads with your personal statement and also has links to supporting documents. While there is some resistance from employers to candidates going outside the normal application process, it may be worth the risk to try unconventional methods of getting your message out. Use your network of contacts to help distribute your message. Remember, the receptionist, building secretary, or human resource secretary are important people in your job search. Teachers you know in the district that can share your "commercial" with principals can help get through the HR firewalls.
The idea of marketing yourself outside the traditional methods of a resume and application is not a common practice. It will take time to develop your message and create your marketing product. Allow 15-20 hours to create your first one. However, focusing your communication to a clear and concise message will help you when you do get that interview or have just a few moments to share your views at a job fair.
Roger L. Sanders
Valley Education for Employment System
Rt. 47 at Waubonsee Drive
Sugar Grove, IL 60554