Starting Your Education Job Search
The fall semester is a great time to lay a firm foundation for your education job search. Take steps to secure references, update your job search materials, and determine how employers in your area search for aspiring educators.
• Develop strong references. If you are engaging in classroom observations or student teaching, remember that first impressions are lasting ones. Arrive early, dress professionally, and demonstrate ongoing curiosity and interest. Introduce yourself to the building administrators and thank them for the opportunity to observe or student teach. Be friendly and professional with everyone you encounter; it will not go unnoticed. As your observation or student teaching experiences continue, seek feedback. Directly ask your cooperating teacher if s/he is comfortable serving as a positive reference for you in the future. If the answer is unclear or negative, ask what you can do to improve.
• Keep your documents up-to-date. It is easier to update your resume while experiences are recent and memories are still fresh in your mind. Take time now to add summer experiences to your resume. After revising, seek feedback from your college or university career center as well as trusted contacts in the field. Remember that there is value in receiving conflicting feedback (see the recent post on Managing Career Advice). Keep track of experiences during the academic year and revise your resume in an ongoing way.
• Research hiring practices. Are you familiar with the education job search resources in your area? Where do your employers of interest post their openings? While regional and state-level job boards exist, many school districts have a customized application system on their own website. Does your college or university host an on-campus interview day or career fair? Determine the timing of events so that you have a sense for how your job search will fit with your class schedule and other commitments. If you plan to launch a geographically diverse search, familiarize yourself with certification requirements and job search resources in your states (or countries) of interest. Ask questions and seek out information so that you can be a well-informed job seeker.
Take steps now to prepare yourself for a successful search. Developing strong references, an up-to-date resume, and equipping yourself with knowledge of the process will make you a more confident and prepared job seeker. Potential employers will notice a proactive approach!
What other tips do you have for education students wishing to get a head start on job search preparation?
Assistant Director, Career Development
Webster University, St. Louis, MO