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Staying Sane in a Crazy Job Market!!!

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By now pink slips or RIF notices have been handed out and the job market just got worse with a flood of experienced teachers looking for work. You may be asking yourself "Why am staying in this business?" or "How can I compete with the experienced teacher?" Only you can answer the first question of "why" here are some ways to accomplish the "how."

1. Get organized. Keeping track of what you did, when you did it and following up is crucial in your job search. I firmly believe that you need to write things down and track actions. How you do it is not important, just that you do it. I found a free networking job search database on line. You may want to check out at www.jibberjobber.com.

2. Set goals. Build your job search "lesson plan." Produce assignments to accomplish daily or weekly specific tasks for your job search. Give yourself firm deadlines and stick to them. Be specific in what you want to accomplish, like "Send a focused cover letter and résumé to District 007 by Friday" or "Thoroughly research 5 school districts by April 1st," or "Contact the local park district on Tuesday about summer employment" or "Turn in my interview suit to the cleaners on Saturday." Meeting specific goals will boost your morale and add momentum to your search.

3. Get started. Finding a job is a job in itself. Be disciplined, with dedicated time set aside to work on your job search. Hiring takes place 24/7 and does not stop during the summer months or over holidays. Districts are always looking for good people.

4. Seek expert assistance. If you are currently in a school, ask your principal or department head to give you honest feedback on your résumé or conduct a practice interview. Contact your school's Career Services Office for assistance in polishing up your application materials or for a practice interview. Staffing professionals can provide you with invaluable tips and feedback. Ask for help!

5. Keep it positive. The job search will test your self-confidence, patience and pride. It is important to recognize those feelings of doubt, accept that they are part of the job search process, and refocus your energy back to your professional goals. Turn that negative thinking into a positive, "I haven't found the right job, but I will" rather than "I'll never get a job."

6. Stay open. Teaching is a highly mobile profession. Stretch yourself and look beyond your comfort zone for opportunities. Just because you move out of state does not mean you will never see your family again. Teaching overseas is not a death sentence, but an opportunity to develop a cultural awareness, learn a language, become self sufficient and grow as a professional.

7. Relax. It's important to keep your job search active, but not at the expense of your sanity. Take respites to keep your attitude positive and energy high. Make time for enjoyable pursuits; unchecked stress can feed on itself. Treat yourself to a nice meal or movie, quality time with family or friends or simply set your job search activities aside for a day or a weekend. You'll come back to your search with a renewed attitude and energy to dive in again. While keeping up your spirits during a job search can be difficult and frustrating, you certainly are not alone. Most job seekers roll back and forth between the highs and lows associated with finding a new job. The key is to keep your head up and start again.

Opportunity and preparation are the key elements to an effective job search. Use the tips above to keep yourself on track for those opportunities you are preparing for. Success maybe just around the corner!

Phyl Naffziger
Career Counselor
Northern Illinois University

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