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Managing your Job Search

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In my last blog post, I discussed the importance of starting the academic year strong. However, an overly ambitious start to a job search can sometimes have unintended consequences. Many of the top frustrations job seekers encounter are related to the search process. Technology has changed almost all aspects of employment and hiring, but the changes have not all been positive. First, there are multiple online job databases for multiple schools, districts, states and general searches. Further, the availability of these online resources means that there are more applicants per position. However, increases in applicant numbers are not beneficial for schools and districts if the candidate pool is not adequately qualified. Therefore additional requirements and screening mechanisms are implemented and result in a more daunting process for job seekers. To navigate these processes and stand out in a competitive field, upcoming grads should consider these tips to simplify and manage a proactive job search.

Use technology to your advantage
Rather than being intimidated by online application systems or processes, take time to familiarize yourself with the tools available for your search. When applying to schools and districts that utilize a common application system, focus your efforts on these resources. Remember, all job boards are dynamic, so logging in every two weeks is simply not an effective strategy. Instead, always utilize email alert or RSS feed options within the various systems and databases to manage your search results rather than wasting time by completing the same search over and over.

Remember the personal connection
When applying online or outside your current stat, it can be easy to forget that there is indeed a person on the receiving side of your application and resume. Job seekers often express concern that applications enter an "abyss" once submitted or delivered. These criticisms are not without merit; however, a person will either review applications or will set up parameters to find specific applications. It is essential to put yourself in the place of the readers or hiring personnel. If your application has been presented as a generic document that could fit any applicant and be used for any school and for any position, it will not garner attention in the flood of similar applications. Place additional effort and time into your application materials so that you stand out as a qualified and genuinely interested applicant.

Utilize your resources
Some resources and opportunities are available just once in your lifetime. This is not intended to add to the pressure of your job search, but to serve as a reminder of the importance of prioritizing some of the events and resources at your disposal as a graduating and newly licensed teacher. Your campus and local teacher fairs, on-campus interviews, and networking events are established for you to effectively and efficiently connect with potential employers. Determine the dates of these events early in the semester and make arrangements to attend as needed. It may be impossible to meet with 50+ schools and districts on your own, but chances are good that you will be able to do just that within the upcoming fall or spring in the convenient span of a few hours on your campus or nearby. Utilize these events and resources available in your career center before graduating and make the most of these valuable opportunities.

Mike Caldwell
Director, Career Resource Center
Westminster College
Salt Lake City, UT

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