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Yearend Job Search Review

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Much like the process used by student teachers after teaching a lesson, yearend is a perfect time for reflecting on our performance during the past year. For those of us seeking a career position, this means evaluating how we've been conducting the job search.

First we want to review the documents we're submitting to school districts. Have we taken time to research the mission, goals, demographics, and anything else we can learn about the district? Does the cover letter catch the reviewer's interest by demonstrating that knowledge? Has the resume been tailored to fit the specific desired qualifications? Have we been collecting letters of reference on an ongoing basis so we can choose to submit only the strongest recommendations? In a job market where supply outweighs demand, every detail can make a difference in getting to the next step of the search process.

Next, how are we building and maintaining our professional networks? Have I been staying in contact with professors, supervisors and alumni? Do they all know I am searching for any opportunity to become known and establish a strong reputation in a school, whether that means subbing or even volunteering? Have I been utilizing every opportunity to grow my network, even with acquaintances outside of the profession? It really is a small world and there are many connections of which we are unaware. Remember that the adage "it's not what you know but who you know" is based on some elements of truth. Build that network and recognize that those relationships are of mutual benefit. If you maintain those connections, some day you will be in a position to aid that person who is helping you today. I can almost guarantee it.

If the application documents demonstrate our qualifications and we've used our contacts wisely, we should be invited for interviews. Did I arrive on time and well prepared? Did I understand the terminology and questions being asked? What answers were delivered well and with which ones did I struggle? Have I developed better responses for the next time I'm asked a difficult question? Have I video-recorded a practice interview and reviewed my performance? Did my hair, nails, suit and accessories exhibit my most professional look? Did my facial expressions look natural and my body language look relaxed? Do I demonstrate confidence and look like a teacher who can take charge of a classroom of students or a room full of parents? Am I positive and enthusiastic? If there is any doubt about interview skills, we should check with our university Career Center to take advantage of any mock interview services they offer. It's probably one of the best resources we can use for improving interview skills and developing confidence.

Finally, are we taking care of ourselves? Putting ourselves out there, day after day, for public scrutiny can take its toll on even the most confident job hunter, which can lead to frustration, depression or anger. Let's remember to do what's needed to manage stress and keep spirits up so that our positive attitude comes through during the job search and the entire career management process.

--Diana Sanchez, Career Counselor, California State University San Marcos and
AAEE, Director of Professional Development

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