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Keep a Positive Attitude During a Difficult Job Search

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The teacher job market for the 2011-12 academic year is the toughest one I have seen during my 32 years in education. Even schools that need teachers may not have the funds to hire them. I still have hope that state governments will eventually provide the funds for school districts to hire the teachers needed to educate students from grades K through 12. But that funding may not come this year or even next year.

If your passion is to teach, keep this long-term goal in mind as you navigate a short-term job market with few opportunities for the coming year. As hard as it may be, keeping a positive attitude is extremely important in any job search, but it is especially so in a market where job vacancies in public school districts are scare.

A friend of mine who works in a senior front office position in the NFL (an organization with its own share of challenges right now) shared with me the number one quality he seeks in new hires, including new hires who are experienced veterans. It isn't knowledge, professional connections, years of accomplishments, or advanced technical skills. It is simply "a positive attitude." Of course, professional competence is important - he is not going to hire someone who has a positive attitude but lacks the skills to do the job. But the person's attitude is the first quality he seeks when considering applicants in the competitive arena of professional sports.

Likewise, school administrators seek teachers with a genuine, positive attitude combined with outstanding instructional skills. Nothing you don't already know, right? However, if the brutal nature of this teacher's job market is getting you down, your frustration may show when you do get the chance to interview. If you are frustrated by the current job market, vent to a few, well-trusted friends. You have every right to acknowledge the difficult job market you are entering. But if you find yourself constantly complaining to anyone who asks about your job search, there is a good chance that word will spread eventually to school administrators that your outlook on teaching isn't suitable for hiring.

Pay close attention to your attitude during what may be a prolonged job search, and do whatever you have to maintain a positive, professional demeanor.

-- John F. Snyder

Office of Career Services

Slippery Rock University of PA

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